Wednesday, June 18, 2008
And J.D. Salinger is totally reading your blog, Dude.
I was reading Smoking with John Colvin (his story, Sister Earth, is breathtaking!) on the Smokelong Anniversary issue and loved this question and his response:
You're a reclusive writer whose work I don't often see. Where do you keep yourself?
Well, I'm flattered that you chose the word "reclusive." It makes me feel like I'm hanging with Emily Dickinson and J.D. Salinger.
I started thinking about being a reclusive writer. Because I do consider myself one—in real life anyway. I live on a mountaintop. I avoid contact with people as much as possible. I mean, I’m sure Emily had to get out for milk and eggs now and again. She probably had to say hello to people. I do that too.
The one thing reclusive people have in common is fear. Some of us are born that way, our eyes blinded by the light of the world at first breath. I’m that way. Dickinson was obviously that way. I remember the scratch of Pendleton wool against my face—breathing the scent of the Chanel #5 my mother wore. I hid when introduced to new people, using her as my shield. Feeling betrayed when she pushed me forward.
“Say hello, Rosie.”
People are terrifying. They really are. They still are.
Theater taught me how to project outside of myself. It taught me of masks and how to become my own choros. So, I was able to participate in the world using those skills. We all do this to some extent, but for introverts it’s a survival technique. You either master it or become something weird people cross the street to get away from.
I’m done with that now and can sit on my mountain and be still.
The Internet allows me to connect with the world in a safe way. I can be an extrovert here because there are no sweaty palms to press, strange cheeks to kiss or—you know—actual physical closeness with people. I can let you get to know me here, because—you know—you aren’t actually looking me in the eyes, making me uncomfortable. Making me wonder if my fatness is grossing you out. Or if you noticed I’m missing some teeth.
All you see here is my mind, which is my best feature.
I wonder what Dickinson’s specific fears were. Oh, sure, we know about the death thing—who isn’t endlessly fascinated with death? What was her “glass of water”? That small human want every character needs to be believable beyond whatever epic task or conflict set before them.
Anyway, I’m thinking old Emily would probably do just fine in the Internet age. I’m pretty sure she would have been as disappointed by her EHarmony matches as I was. But I’m pretty sure she would give it a try, just for hoots as I did. Mine were hilarious. I’m pretty sure she would have been a blogger. And I think she would have let the world get to know her. She’d never have to leave her room—except for milk and eggs and a loaf of white bread.
Oh—check your stats—‘cause J. D. Salinger is totally reading your blog, Dude.