Number of stories: 5
This is okay, I am telling myself. The week’s been kind of interesting. The weather is changing. The rehearsals for the play this weekend have intensified. The kids had..stuff…to do. I WILL say, though, that at this point my brain is working faster than my hands, or time, will allow and the story ideas are starting to get backed up like the line of a gas station on days the price dips. I could complain, but I’d be that douche in car number four who keeps honking for no good reason.
Besides, it’s been an interesting week.
It started off kind of nice. I had another acceptance. So you know I was starting to feel good. There there was this whole notion of being a “kept” writer being thrown around. I had been tweeting and Facebook statusing about. There had been a Salon article, and then a Dame response, and then more and more and more and it was turning into this big kerfuffle and you know me. I have opinions on kerfuffles. I talked to K.K. I ranted about it to friends. I thought about it in private. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it didn’t really matter. The idea of “privilege” and having to “own” it..I mean. There’s layers, but that’s a dim bar and chocolates at midnight kind of conversation. An exploration, if you will, rather than a definition of position. I said that. And then an editor over at Brevity asked me if I could write something on it. And well, I could.
So I did. Opine that is. Wrote the thing. Sent it off. The next few days were an avalanche of response. Some good, a lot of bad. Well, Let me rephrase that. It was intense. The response, the opinions. I was taken aback.
Now here’s the thing. I am not exactly worried about people’s opinions. Over the years, I have developed a thick(er)…ok thick(ish)…skin and accepted the idea that writing will have to mean inevitable putting my insides out there to be looked at, examined, judged. That whole “it’s so personal” debate. But the thing that surprised me the most was how so many readers (and it was mostly men) seemed to hang on that word: “Privilege” and went to town in very eloquent and smart-sounding rhetoric which should have been an excellent point of debate for me, but wasn’t. They had missed the point entirely.
This got me thinking. Was it me, writer, creator or argument, TEACHER of argument, for God’s sake? Had I just flushed ten years of teaching and the many, many, years of learning before that down a drain? I felt as if I had stepped out into the street, huge holes in my garments, and tried to pawn myself off a well-dressed person. Or something like that. Had I let myself down?
Or was it simply the consequence of public debate. Sticking my nose in. Having an opinion. I see it often enough with news, politics, religion, race, and now clearly in the idea of being privileged and having an opinion on it which is different from others. Could be this was a hot button issue, one of those things that stirs deep sentiment, just rubs you the wrong way, and maybe you don’t even know why. The Dame article had certainly done that for me. In fact, it was the entire reason I was in said kerfuffle.
So, what could I have done?
My Pakistani side goes something like this: Serves you right. You should have spent more time on the piece. Clearly, you don’t like to work hard enough. You mailed it in. Seriously. What were you thinking. How DARE you look at me when I’m talking to you? This is disgraceful. You are a much better writer than this. How will you ever live with this?
My American side (more on this some other day) goes: You put your opinion out there. Of course people will have reactions. You write how you write and you have to stay true to your own opinion. Own it. Say it. Move on. And please, look at me when I’m talking to you.
So, predictably, I landed somewhere in the middle. I am finding myself paying more attention to what I write in (a la own instruction to students) and owning my opinion anyway. I feel a little like a moustachioed fighter coming out of the ring after a brawl. Scratched up. Weary. But wiser.
I think that could be a good look.
Ps: That thing about paying attention, that does not apply here. I was thinking it should, but K.K and I always say: “our rules” so there we are. Our rules.