Stepping out, into pseudo ‘lime light’
Being a writer, keeping a distance, yet still, opening up to the wide wonderful world
study me as much as you like,
you will not know me,
for I differ in hundreds of ways
from what you see me be
behind my eyes and see me
as I see myself,
in a place you cannot see
Can you imagine yourself in a little cabin, alone, writing diligently for lengthy periods of time? Is it possible to keep that private world out of the minds of the readers for whom you are writing?
Let’s say that is your plan. Even though the movie, Secret Window comes to mind, you are a reasonable, rational person, more or less. Even if you are ghost writing or writing under a pen name, chances are pretty good that you can’t keep all of you private.
In the Paris Review article, Haruki Murakami, The Art of Fiction, John Wray writes about his interview with this infamous (albeit trying to be private) author. He portrays Murakami’s world as being a rather allegorical one, in relation to his works of ‘fiction’.
Yet, Wray also argues that no author’s body of work has ever been more private. Murakami did, apparently go to great lengths to keep it so. He lived away from his native country of Japan for years in an effort to secure a measure of distance from his public image.
Different techniques are employed by writers to separate the viewpoints of different characters. Narrative distancing is one of these methods. Usually this is implemented in works of fiction but it serves a purpose in the non-fiction genre as well. It effectively creates a space between the reader and the narrator. Murakami integrates narrative distancing exceedingly well. Careful moderation of style and the type of information shared can expand or limit the distance between the real-life writer and the reader as well.
The omniscient third-person narration is an interesting type of narrative distancing which Murakami uses effectively and frequently. Yet, I get the distinct feeling that some of the narrator’s ideas, thoughts and feelings are literally part of the writer’s personal belief system. His novels inhabit the liminal zone between realism and fable, writes Wray.
Allegorical symbols such as empty wells and an underground city are pervasive in Murakami’s fiction. They may be part of non-fiction genre yet we tend to speculate that there is a touch of Murakami, the private person, blending into the plot, as well.
In the real online social and writing world — and that is very much of the 21st century human community — writing inherently promotes connections, whether you actively seek them or not. These are connections of thoughts, feeling, ideas or just an intuitive vibe. It does seem that being a private person and publishing are two concepts that— when we try to hold them together — always contradict each other, to varying degrees.
Further, through the process of consistent, frequent writing, the author’s personal voice is inherently empowered. The writer is then less likely to actually want to be private as the inner self becomes stronger in this process. Even if the writing is in a journal with a key lock, less personal privacy is deeply rooted in the today’s world of putting words on the online ‘page’.
It takes some balancing to minimize the personal loss and maximize the gains. The ‘less-than-private’ essence of who I am, is often unintentionally, conveyed in tidbits, or more ‘whopping-bits’. The reader, of course, can then translate at whim. That is a risk we writers must knowingly take.
This ‘putting it out there’ is a brave step forward into the realm of being open and vulnerable. It requires being ok with some exposure, both good and bad, wrong translation and maybe something close to accurate.
And, we accept this because we are reaching out to learn more about the world, about our readers and our ‘selves’. In the writing process, the more guarded and private one is, seems to equate to less personal growth and connectivity overall.
Being proactive is a healthy way to settle into this busy world. It is the balancing act we step into every time we settle into our cozy, quiet nooks to embrace what we love to do— write.
🕊 Namasté, Leah