Thursday, November 18, 2010
Impropriety and Profanity: That's What I'm All About. Secretly.
Recently, I've been thinking about what it means to be a writer. I've resisted thinking about it in the past because it screws with my sense of identity. This has less to do with me thinking about myself as a writer, and more with my general ideas about what it means to have a static sense of self. While writing has long been a part of who I am, the identity alongside that has been modulated many times. So how does this one aspect of my personality make itself fit into the overall package?
The short answer is—I have no idea. It's also a lazy answer, because I have some clues, of course. One of the ideas I find most intriguing is whether my identity has shaped my writing, or whether it has been the other way around. I was doing that thing the internet seems to have been made for—browsing Facebook—and read something someone recently posted which inflamed my easily flammable temper. This promptly made me to set my status to something which contained a volume of profanities. In retrospect, that instinctual retort made me wonder: do I consciously separate my idea of who I am with my identity as a writer?
I admit it, my writing personality thinks it can say anything. It frequently does. Things that might get me arrested in some countries, or other opinions that incline people who don't know me to look at me with cemented concern. Others, like family—I think they're just used to the things that have been coming out of my mouth for a long time. I sometimes question if I should continue saying these things; politically incorrect jokes, remarks about topics like sex and gender that I sometimes think might make people think I have no sense of morality. And then there's that old chestnut Religion. God knows, I've earned the right to make a stink about that topic. I have the Reformed Protestant scars to prove it. Do I say these things because I want to make someone care, or am I just venting?
Should writers speak?
Such vexing questions, and no half-drunk wine in sight. It makes it harder, having to think about this sober. Hemingway may have had a point.
For the time being, I might have to make peace with the fact that I don't feel entirely comfortable thinking of my self without taking into account the 'writer-identity'. Maybe that's lazy in itself. Or maybe it's a way of validating whatever it is I feel like saying. Validation—another tricky subject. Do I write because I want to be justified? This is definitely not going any further without the presence of alcohol. But it does make me wonder about the motivations behind the physical act of writing. Clearly, it is something that some are better at than others, that some have preposterous talent for, and still others use to produce drivel of the highest calibre. But I can't help but think that writers may just have a different kind of guts, a kind of chutzpah that they think renders them in a light where anything they say or do elicits a particular reaction. You know; oh—it's because she/he is a writer. That might not be such a bad thing. It lets us get away with a lot of strange shit. However, sometimes I can't help but feel people aren't really listening.
Maybe that's why I don't always offer information about myself as a writer when making new acquaintances. On the other hand, that might just be me imposing upon myself a type of identity I think others will inflict upon me based on what I tell them. You can see the conundrum, can't you? All of this might not matter in the end. The real question is really whether I like to think of myself as a writer. Do I accept the clichés, the preconceived ideas about "people like me"? Yes. Because strangers, be default, will never know you. They can (and will) form opinions on first impressions. Some of them will even say stupid and irrelevant things to you. But as A Writer, I have the right to respond however irreverently or improperly and without propriety and blame it all on the fact that I'm One Of Those People. And that suits me just fine.