Thursday, October 4, 2012

Putting Yourself “Out There”

Maybe because I was born last, I learned to stay out of people’s way, to not be a problem to others, to be quiet, blend into the scenery, and not call attention to myself. And so here I am, X number of years later, a writer, which requires a special kind of putting yourself out there, of presenting yourself to people. Even people who never knew of your existence until you popped up in front of them. It’s not enough to heckle the people you know; you have to also do it to complete strangers.
We artists can tend to not be social critters—which comes in quite handy when the crafting of our artistry needs to get done. Mostly by default, we’re polite and humbly meek. We typically try not calling attention to ourselves. It’s best when we’re off others’ radars. But art requires an audience, which means we artists can’t keep our output tucked away somewhere; we have to publicly display it.
Awhile back, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, a poet of my recent on-line acquaintance, sent me a copy of her just-published work, to review. In the thank you card she included, she wrote, “It’s so hard for me to put myself out there this way,” but that my openness and excitement toward her work, “went a long way toward making it seem ‘okay.’”
I recently asked her about this, because Rosemerry is very definitely, “out there,” what with readings, workshops, co-hosting a monthly video-taped program with Telluride’s Wilkinson Public Library, various group poetry performances, and also published work. (She has yet another collection, coming very soon.) Her reply mentioned the paradox of the scariness of sending deeply personal and intimate work into the world; yet there being little real risk, because the ego isn’t so involved. She concluded with, “I guess my point is that it is a stretch to ‘join the big conversation’ as I like to say, but at the same time it begins to feel dangerous not to. We are all in it together, and if it rises up to join in, then join in!”


  1. Hey dear Eduardo, thanks for opening up this conversation. It's such an interesting one. I am not sure if I were clear that there is a possibility, the more we risk with our writing, the more authentic we are, it is that authenticity that disarms the ego. The ego is so interested in making it better, making it bigger, making it "mine." But I think an authentic voice can transcend that--now we are writing about things that are quite intimate, but not necessarily personal. Does that make any sense? Because it has happened to me, I understand what it feels like when it is happening. The ego is the only one that wonders, "I wonder if anyone else will like this." But the authentic voice that comes through us is utterly unconcerned with this. Which is why, though the writing that comes from this place is quite intimate, there is no risk. What is there to lose? Only things that the ego cares about.


  2. Thank you for that follow up, Rosemerry. You've opened the conversation still wider.
    THAT'S the paradox I meant to mention: The more intimately we write, the less it's about us. Another version of specificity in the writing making it more universal. Or, as Papa Hemingway said, "Write hard and clear about what hurts," although the hurting aspect is definitely not required. That electrifying sensation throughout the nervous system of hitting the truth.
    Am I closer, now, to your mark? To the truth you're wanting to convey?