I’m sure I’ve covered this topic before, if not here then in conversation with fellow writers, at the very least. Possibly to my students, or at readings. You’d think it was obvious, but apparently it’s not, and thus, I need to say it again (caution: Rant ahead. If you’re not up to it, feel free to skip this post and come back tomorrow for a list of Sunday Pleasures instead.)
A writer. is. not. made. up. of. what. she. writes.
Can you hear that? Shall I say it again in a different way?
This. word. is. not. me.
It’s just a word. One of a thousand I could have chosen. I write fiction. I tell stories. Everything that comes out of my fingers and lands on paper is just a single, tiny, slivered facet of who I am.
When I write about sex, my job is to arouse mind and body. When I write about death, my job is to make us all remember why it’s so wonderful to be alive. If I write about family, or spouses, or siblings, or travel…I have a job. It’s to make the reader come with me, to visit and see and fall in love and hate all over again. When I blog here, on this blog that is designed to showcase and highlight my writing–mostly my erotic writing–it has a purpose as well. To promote my work. To help others understand the mind processes that go with writing. To explore the behind-the-scenes of story making and promotion and marketing and submission.
Yes, the words are MINE but they are not ME.
Do you see the distinction there? The words are carefully chosen, they have a purpose. They are not me puking my insides onto the paper or onto this screen or into this blog post. They are there for a reason, to create a reaction within the reader. If I wanted to show all facets of myself, I would. But I don’t. We writers are private people. We only let you see what we want you to see. If you think that’s all there is, if you think this word–sex–or this one–body–or this one–fuck–fully defines me in any way, shape or form, then you are incredibly naive to both how marketing works and to how the creative process works.
So, why the rant this morning? Mainly because I’ve had enough of this chick, who anonymously has been stalking my blog and posting negative words about me (the me that she thinks she knows based on nothing more than my blog posts), about my writing and the writing of those I love, about the places where I teach, my age (for some reason that I’ve yet to figure out) and, well, just about anything she can try to dig her fingers into. I thought she was gone after my subtle hint at stalking on a recent post, but apparently not. I don’t post her comments anymore–I do believe in freedom of speech, but I also don’t believe in letting someone try to knock me around for no good reason other than to see if I’ll scar or scare (I won’t, by the way). I thought the lack of attention would turn her elsewhere, to find some other bitch to poke at, but that hasn’t worked either.
So, I’m taking a different tack. I’m turning the experience into an essay, because that is what I do. I’m starting to work backwards through the paper trail to discover this person’s identity. I’m making it clear, here and elsewhere, that I’ve had enough.
So, to catch you up: The posts started early last fall. I, of course, have kept a record of them, because I’ve had people like this in my life before and I know the drill. She calls herself LUCY, and her first few comments were thoughtful, if not a bit aggressive. I have to say she’s gone from thoughtful to purely in-my-face. Truly, If I had to guess, I’d say I know her in real life (or I did at one point–if she’s who I think she is, then I actually knew her about ten years ago, which boggles the mind, but also explains, perhaps, a bit of why she has such a very large stick up her ass when it comes to me.)
Want a taste? Here are a few of her comments, some posted previously, some not (note: these are full posts, unedited and unchanged by me, out of respect for her. I picked comments at random from the many that I have, so this doesn’t give a full picture of the situation, of course. But, then, as I said earlier, words never do.)
I mean, what is your problem? Were you so unloved as a child that you resort to the grim tactics of sado-masochism- perverse and grim realities? Have you no compass for real love in your heart? I pity you woman, through and through. How very sad, your life. Get out of this business; forget the harsh upbringing you obviously had: did no mother love you, Shanna? Come clean. What gives with such a beautiful woman as yourself? Why so perverse? Cool you think? Think again.
WHY WOULD ANYONE REWRITE “THE GIFT OF THE MAGI” in erotic terms? Is not a thing sacred? I am saddened. Please do your own original writing and stop slandering something that’s just, well, good. Christmas, recall, is about goodness. What have we lost? Never you mind. Get on with your said adventure … Wipe it all out — with eroticism! It’s all good, right? Eroticism rules!!!!! Indeed. It’s all that matters to you folks. Fair enough.
Are you out of your mind, Shanna? Auto-erotica apshixia? Have you no shame? On this sick planet of ours? You’re proposing, what? Take a deep breath and be thankful. Do not, please, take hold of an awfully private part and hold your breath. Your relationship with the world is awfully odd, kind of sick, you know? Haven’t we enough of this kind of thinking? Is this what you call, healing, in your world? Auto erotic suffocation? Don’t think most of us can relate.
Oh get a grip! An early suicide? You hardly knew her, Johnny! A remnant from your past, indeed. Good ploy to get your die-hard, tell- me-again, how dearly you love me, oh, translucent woman, YOU. You fit the bill for any sympathy. I suppose I should say, by all means, enjoy the outpouring of support for your putatively beleagured, year-long state. Where is your reality, old girl? Ever raised a child? Looked for a second outside of your depressed state? Looked outside of your own self? Oh come now.
Please. Learn to love more fully, once and for all, and honey, that don’t include pornography. That don’t count. Sign me: Lucille.
So much sex? What else might preoccupy the lovely Shanna, at what is it now, AGE 36? Gets kind of redundant, I know, this same question coming from your antagonist, but I mean really, child, what SHALL you do when old age sets in upon you? You are getting no younger. Develop some kind of life apart from your pseudo-love of sex. Sex is great, okay, and all, but your OBSESSIVE preoccupation, plus the fact that this is your money in the bank — ALL THIS SEX! — should weary anyone, no less yourself. Any other story to tell, dear one? Try it some time. A story without sex.
Here’s the thing that both boggles me and fills me with a bit of odd pride. My job with this blog is to talk about my writing, to entice and arouse and interest people in what I do. Apparently, it worked. It worked too well, as it seems to have convinced this woman that I am nothing other than a sex machine, that I have no issues (or I have a ton of issues, depending), that I am unloved and that I don’t love, that I am all body and sex (which, admitted, would be a lovely lovely dream some days, but is hardly the case).
I won’t even get into all of the assumptions about my life, about what I write, about what I believe. They’re just so far off base that I don’t have the time or energy to try and correct them.
And I don’t want to create a bash-fest, either, as easy as it would be. So, please keep any comments thoughtful and let’s have a discussion instead. Here are the things that I want to explore with this:
- Do people judge you solely on your writing? Either on a blog, or an essay, or your fiction? How much of your writing is ‘really you’?
- The web creates a space for us to put ourselves out there (as professional writers or as people, however.). If we’re using the web to our advantage (to promote ourselves as writers, etc.), are comments like this just part of the price we pay for our decision to put ourselves out there, to open our skin for the general public? I mean, it’s one thing to knock someone and to try and tear them down when you’re hidden and anonymous. But to open yourself up, to use your real name, to show yourself, flaws and all… to me, that’s incredibly brave and scary, but it’s also part of my job as a writer.
- Have you dealt with stalkers/hatred/misplaced love or lust due to your writing or your online persona? How did you handle it? Did it work?
- What other topics does this experience bring up for you?
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’m going back to the real work, the thing that I love, the carefully chosen words, the mask-making, the fiction building, the laying down of letter after letter to spin a tale.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
“Honey, if it ain’t your tail, don’t wag it.” ~Unknown
PS – Drop-dead gorgeous mask images by this artist.