I have a lot of confidence about my writing when I sit down to craft stories about other people.
Not so much, when I need to write about myself. If you follow my blog, you know I’ll share my rough spots as much as the shine. It’s who I am: a real person, being as honest as I can be.
The past week, however, I’ve been working on essays to send out as guest blog posts. The entire idea of these ‘blog tours’ is to get out in front of new people and say something to make them seek me out and buy my books. So as I craft each essay, I’m re-reading them and making sure they fit in the frame of ‘will this make me or my books appealing?’ And weighing the books over myself, at least at this stage in my authorial journey.
It’s a very uncomfortable way to write. I have to polish the rough spots. I have to not seem like the vulnerable, fragile ego that I am. I have to market myself in the first person. As awful as it is to write my own bios and profiles in the third person, at least there’s the mask of distance to make all the puffery seem legit. But to write braggadocio in the first person feels like the worst social faux pas.
I’ve written (well, re-written) three such essays. ‘Essays’ sounds so clinical, but when I was thinking of them as ‘blog posts’ my structure fell apart, so ‘essays’ is how I’m framing them to write better pieces. My favorite of them is the one where I rip my shirt open to expose my heart, cast my shame upon the ground and beg the reader to stomp on it. My second favorite is the one where I focus more on the creative process, handing over all credit for my work to an unstoppable force of nature. But the one where I straight-up set my humility aside and pretend to be confident about my work? Oh, it makes me wither to re-read it! The coat of high gloss it received feels so unlike me, even though the words are my own and as carefully considered as the others. I tried to focus on the passion I feel for my book. The giddy feeling I get when someone new is about to crack the spine on it for the first time and to highlight what it is I expect them to find inside. Tried to make it as authentic as I could while still feeling like the emperor in his new clothes as I handed it off.
I’m curious to see if it comes back praised or condemned by the editor. Writing about myself and allowing no room for self-depreciation is a new form of brave, I’ve decided.
I can be brave. I’ve been told being as honest as I typically am is brave, but it doesn’t feel brave. To me, it’s a form of writing that allows for easy retreat. But this pennant-staking-the-ground prideful business feels so dangerous, as if by staking that ground I will find myself like so much Wile E. Coyote on the wrong side of a cleaved cliff face (and like Mr. W. E. Coyote, it doesn’t matter how carefully I choose which side to stand on). Being brave isn’t about what other people are afraid to do. It’s about what I am afraid to do. So I’m stepping up and attempting this challenge. It’s just a few essays. Each time I write a book. Which I plan to do a lot. *deep inhale* So I guess I’d better get used to it, and get over it.