Yes, you read it right. I’m going to interview myself. I find the concept of offering my thoughts on why I write or who I am to be not unlike walking into a cocktail party only to hear, “HEY! HERE’S A CHEESE SQUARE! ENJOY IT!?” as it nears your face, suspended by a toothpick yielding under pressure as it’s held out by a winsome host.
But this is good cheese. And today I am winsome.
So while I wait for me to show up, I’ll tell you a little about why I’m doing this.
I’d like to thank the craft of writing, in specific, for its generosity. Writing has allowed me to express myself in a way through humor, candor, fiction and other ways that I didn’t really think it could.
Oh, here she is. I can’t believe she’s wearing that. Really? Well, no one ever said writers were fashionistas. No one lied.
Me: Molly, I’m so glad you are able to take some time out of your busy schedule of being a mother to chat with us today. What you do is very demanding, I’m sure.
Other me: Yes, it’s very demanding. This spring in particular has been very difficult, the children —
Me: Yes, we’ll get to them later. What we are all here to learn about is writing and why you do it. Especially publicly. Why not paint? Or just you know, journal.
Other me: Well, ok. If we’re going to be technical, yes, what I write is public, but not everyone reads it.
Me: >snorts< Ya got that right.
Other me: Furrows brow, narrows eyes, purses lips. Right, so because no one, well, not everyone reads it, I still feel relatively safe in expressing myself. I’m also pretty secure in what I write because it’s largely benign and it’s often stream-of-consciousy.
Me: Did you say ‘stream-of-consciousy‘? Aren’t you a little sick of that genre? Don’t you ever plan to … plan or outline what you will write? Don’t you think you’re cheating a little?
Other me: Yes, I do tire of the stream-of-conscious genre, and I have sort of plotted things out, but I also find that when I plot things out, it’s not as exciting to me. I like to see what the page will show me. I did write a 75,000-word book last summer and it’s still in draft mode and I’m not sure it will see the light of day, but learned a lot. I learned that I had to organize my characters, create family trees, give background on characters. Not everyone can just show up on a page; we have people who show up in our lives, but that’s different. In a book, people expect context. In life, we’re more forgiving. I believe I will eventually move forward and self-publish this first book because then I can let it go and do other things.
But no, I’m not cheating. I’m writing and people are reading. Even if it’s only two people.
Me: Moving on. What’s the first book about?
Other me: It’s about growth. In many forms. Lots of authors will say their first book is a type of thinly veiled memoir, and I suppose I’m no different. Pat Conroy’s The Great Santini was his; The Bell Jar was largely considered Sylvia Plath’s memoir. That was Plath’s only book; she was a poet.
Other me: Hello? Hey!
Me: Oh, sorry. I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was thinking about why I am writing at all.
Other me: Hey, that’s my line. It’s not for the money, that’s for sure.
Me: Right. Sorry. Straightening in chair, taking a sip of coffee. You were saying… Plath was a poet?
Other me: Yes, she was and while her poetry is profound and wonderful,
Me: >blurts< You’ve never read her poems.
Other me: Fidgeting with hair, twirling it around index finger. I’m sure I’ve read some. In college or — Anyway, I was saying, that we owe a lot to Henry Miller.
Me: You were not. We haven’t gotten there yet. You were talking about Plath. You did read The Bell Jar, remember? Ah, screw it. What about Miller?
Other me: I was reading yesterday about Tropic of Cancer. I’m in a writing group, The Peevish Penman, and we were chatting about banned books and whether we’d read any or what we wish we had. I mentioned Lolita and Tropic of Cancer.
Me: Miller didn’t write Lolita, Molly.
Other me: I know that. Why do you have to be so nasty? I lumped it in with the books I’d not read. Man, lighten up. Anyway, Tropic of Cancer was pretty revolutionary. Miller threw the gloves off, so to speak, when he wrote it. It was the first of its kind. Highly charged, considered obscene, it was the vanguard of what we largely consider to be tell-alls and is very likely the wellspring of the sexual revolution, what we consider modern personal blogging and memoir writing.
Me: Oooh, I can’t wait to get into it. Can you say ‘consider‘ maybe one more time?
Other me: I know, right? Hey! Then edit it out.
Me: So Tropic of Cancer reminds you of your memoir?
Other me: No, not necessarily, because I haven’t read it, remember? But I think its existence has given me the guts, if I will, to go forward and be less fearful of sharing who I am with people. I’m not some repressed Boston Irish Catholic.
Me: You do write fairly personally. I mean, that post on PMDD and your family relationships and other lady stuff is sort of y’know, private. Why do you do that? Don’t you have any dignity?
Other me: I have tons of dignity; but what I’d also like to say I have is guts. Look, I’m not out there being totally explicit and boring and oogey about it; I do have a sense of humor about these things and the fact of the matter is that hormones suck, aging sucks, sometimes our parents suck and if someone doesn’t like it, they can pack up and go home. I’m not for everyone. And I really don’t care. I’m not in this to offend anyone, but I’m sure as hell done trying to please everyone fer crissakes.
Me: Ooooookaaaaay. Sooooo, given that, when will you commit to the book and sort of really get going on it? You do lots of blogging now and I know the social media thing is a huge distraction for you.
Other me: Don’t patronize me. That’s not entirely fair. The social media thing is a distraction by definition and by its mere existence, not by my action. I’m not texting while driving or checking my email constantly or tweeting my face off. When I worked in public relations and merger communications, we had a phrase —
Me: Zzzzzzznnnnznzzznzznznnnnnggngnnnnzzg. Sorry.
Other me: I’ll be brief and this will make sense: the phrase was “Create the Need.” And it was all vapor and glass and mirrors. We would create the need (or someone else would come up with the concept of the product) and then sell it; make it seem as though life without it was absurd, impossible, insane even. Social media is no different than that. You’ve heard of “FOMO” — Fear Of Missing Out? Same thing: it’s the concept that we need social media: that I should be doing more of it, that I should be engaging more in it, that’s the distraction, and it feeds on itself and creates a type of vortex of need. I hate need. I strongly dislike the concept of need. It’s out there, I know; and I’m a needful person at times, but I really believe we are at our best when we are resourceful and active. I don’t need to be a monk on a mountain in Tibet to have a better sense of who and what I can be.
Me: You say that a lot.
Other me: Say what?
Me: That line (dumbing down voice to make me sound like Homer Simpson), ‘be a monk on a mountain in Tibet…’ — that, you say that a lot.
Other me: That’s because I believe it. The bottom line is that no amount of tweeting is gonna make me a better writer. It’s all a façade. It’s a ruse. China doesn’t want us to be productive; China wants us to tweet. I guess I just have to stop preaching and talking about it; stop analyzing it, intending it.
Me: Riiiiiight. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Stop intending to be good, just Be Good. Stop intending to be a writer, just Be a Writer.
Other me: right. Because it’s all bullshit if you don’t do it. Anyone can talk about it.
Me: It’s the doing that makes it real.
Other me: Right. So what else is in the hopper?
Me: A book about motherhood.
Other me: Oh, no. Really? What? There aren’t enough books about parenting and motherhood and bloggers out there? Really? You think what you have to say hasn’t been said yet? Have you seen the book shelves at Barnes & Noble devoted to funny, poignant, clever and smart mothers?
Me: crawling into a hole. No. I try not to look at them.
Other me: Why? You need to know your market.
Me: Oh, I know my market. Plus, I have to remember why I do any of this.
Other me: FINALLY. We get to the crux of all this. WHY? Why do you do any of this?
Me: Because I can. I’m not in this to get rich.
Other me: Maybe you should be.
Me: I’m rich enough. I have wonderful friends, my health, my children are —
Other me: We’ll get to them later, but honestly, Molly. You don’t want money? Fame? Income?
Me: Income, yes. I would gladly take income. Fame? No. I am totally cool without it. I don’t need the world to know who I am. I was just talking to my oldest son in the car yesterday on the way to crew practice and we were talking about Steve Martin and how he got tired of all the travel and he just wanted to work and write. Not be on stage…
Other me: Annnnnd?
Me: And it was then that I realized that I don’t need fame. Fame! I wanna live forever… I wanna learn how to fly FLY! … But no, I don’t. I have done a lot of soul searching and I have come to three conclusions.
Other me: Just three?
Me: For the moment, yes and I hope they’re the ones that stick. 1) I believe that I am a good writer, finally. I’m good with it. I can get better, always, but I’m confident now. I am. I don’t need a bazillion dollars and a ton of fans to tell me that I’m good at something. This has taken a long time to allow. And even though I’ve allowed it, I’ll still waver in my convictions. 2) That the way I tell things is specific to me. No one has my eyes and my brain and my way of telling things and I don’t have anyone else’s way. It’s a fantastic thing to be able to say that; it’s quite liberating. And 3) that writing contests and keeping at it and continuing to get better is the only way I can really show myself who I am.
Other me: Who are you?
Me: I am me and you are we and we are all together.
ps – my other interviews: