Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dysfunctional Writer -- Four Reasons

One of my many quirks is an inability to look at the fact that people read my work. Is it because I am painfully shy? Is it because of some fractured attempt to hide parts of myself? Who knows.

I opened up comments on my blog today. Those of you who have known me for a while realize this is no small baby step. I think I have kept my pen name / no comments / hidden address for so long because:

* Information management -- If I had published under my real name in the 1998-2004 time frame, I would have suffered a deluge of mail and other nasty intrusions that would have disrupted my life as a mother. One book in particular got an enormous amount of attention, became required reading at several universities and the international mail, well, I learned about places I had never heard of before. It was weird, like some monster banging on the other side of the wall.

I am so glad I put that wall in place. There is nothing I hate worse than an interruption when I'm playing Go with my boy (mostly because he moves pieces when I'm not looking). If I am private, hidden, secure under my pretty little pet rock, I do not have to mess with the publicity that flows from that work. Nice. Hear the quiet?

* Purity -- If I could die before anybody read my work, that would be ideal. I would not have to worry about anyone pointing out flaws. When you publish a work (at least traditionally) it is far past the editorial phase. When I am in the editorial phase, I actually get all the editing I need, thank you. Why would I want someone pointing out a flaw in my logic when it is too late to change it and it will be another year or two before they do a reprint? That is just not fair.

* Editorial Hell -- There is something torturous about not being able to actively edit your work. Once you put it out there for the world to see, you can not pull it back. At least, in some forms. (In this blog, I can edit to my heart's content so maybe that is why I am opening up?) When I give a presentation, I suffer at least a week's worth of obsession over, 'I forgot to include..." and "That sentence was poorly structured. It should have been..." and then in my tired mind's eye the words copy & paste, dancing around as I see the presentation restructure itself, but there is no release. I have been tempted more than once to ask that a meeting reconvene just so I can get it right. It is agony, sheer agony, I tell you.

* I question whether or not I really want to know what others think. One one hand, I crave that social-emotional high that comes from people recognizing and responding to me. In particular, I crave the confrontive commentary that puts those particular pieces of my brain in the refiner's fire. Oh, how I love that fire. On the other hand, they are my ideas and when I put them in print, I claim them. Keeping a pen name is a bit of a "Back off. I have enough voices in my life already, thank you."

Now, with that warm welcome, I open up comments.