The Whole Truth?

In which I look at how much is too much and what to share.

I follow some authors on social media who put their political and social viewpoints out there for the world to see without qualms. I admire them for that. Many of them are popular, successful in their careers, and have continued success after airing controversial opinions. I have strong opinions about politics and society, but I’ve limited my sharing to clicking the “like” button and the occasional link to Snopes to counter sheer stupidity. I’ve never been comfortable sharing information about many aspects of my life or my views. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had security in my chosen career–I can’t afford to offend potential readers. Of course that hasn’t garnered me best-selling status either. Maybe it’s because I don’t do confrontation well. Of course, who does, and that really is a ridiculous excuse. Maybe it’s because I can’t express my thoughts clearly, and one can’t do rebuttals well on social media (comment sections aren’t conducive to civilized debate or discourse). The world is not made of sound bites. Of course, I do enjoy the sound bites and memes that make the rounds and reflect my views.

So I struggle between the what to tell you and what to keep hidden. In person I am very open about what I believe and what is happening in my life. That’s because I once heard a wise woman (Jennifer Crusie) tell a roomful of people at a conference the reason she doesn’t let her workshops be taped: (paraphrasing here) If it isn’t recorded, I can claim you all were high on mushrooms and don’t remember correctly what I said . (She is welcome to deny she ever said this). I’ve used that line more than once in teaching (toned down for my eighth graders to omit the drug reference) and also at our local sci-fi, fantasy conference, Bubonicon. If I say something and you don’t have it recorded, you can’t prove I said it.microphone-626618_640

Which leads me to this blog and social media. Here, I am writing down my words. Here the words are etched in stone (figuratively). Here, I can’t escape what I’ve said, and I have been smacked down more than once for something I’ve written and I don’t have the power or influence to combat negative repercussions. I still want to attract readers; I still want to be “popular”. I mean, they still invite Mel Gibson to the Golden Globes after some of the things he’s said. Brad Pitt is still listed as one of the world’s sexiest men and his social leanings are out there for the world to see.

So I don’t know whether I’m a chicken or if I’m cautious. What do you think?

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Ryria Chronicles by Michael J Sullivan (I mention this one again because it’s spoiled me for other books at the moment. I loved this series. Which is the reason I’m reading …)

Harry Potter und der Gefangene von Azkaban by JK Rowling (rereading an old favorite, albeit in a different language, because I know its good and won’t disappoint me after the above series.)

“Reality: What a Concept”

…One of my favorite quotes from Robin Williams.  In which I talk about the complexity of human personality and pay my own small tribute to the man.

I have always wanted to be one of those big personality people. You know the kind–the ones whom people gravitate toward at parties, at gatherings, even in the parking lots of schools and grocery stores. They can schmooze, talk, tell a story and entertain. Put them on a panel (like at Bubonicon) and they make every minute educational and exciting and filled with laughter.

I’ve tried to cultivate and work on having such a personality. I can succeed on occasion (rare occasions and usually when I’m on stage, literally or metaphorically, somewhere), but usually I just withdraw into myself, even if I have some modicum of knowledge about the topic at hand. I can write a mean essay, but simply having a conversation frightens me.  I am terrified of making a mistake because when I do, people point it out (Look, Gabi made a mistake!–seriously, this has happened more than once), which just makes me even more afraid to make a mistake and I withdraw further into myself. I love giving presentations or appearing on panels, but a private conversation…>shudder<.

That duality in personality–the outer appearance vs the inner perception–is part of the reason Robin Williams’s death struck me so hard. I thoroughly enjoyed his work and considered him an absolute genius (in every sense of the word), but no one really knew what went on in his head. I can completely relate to it. I know I can project an image of confidence and expertise, but inside, I’m a jellied mass of insecurities. We all wear masks of sorts. We have our parent masks, our work masks, our public masks, our friend masks. You can’t know what going on behind that mask. You can guess, but unless the wearer reveals himself, you can never be sure. So never assume a smile means happiness or that silence means stupidity. Reality is a deceptive term because those masks are a part of reality. They are real, just one aspect of the complex beings we humans are. Just be careful not to look at one and think you’re seeing the whole picture.

So when I lose myself in fiction , whether I am writing it, reading it, or watching it, it’s not because I don’t like my reality. I do happen to like my life, but I make room for the dreams. I like my fiction as big as the personality I described above. I don’t enjoy small, intimate stories as much because I do enough analysis of myself to satisfy my need to explore others. I want the big stories, the ones that couldn’t happen in reality, but when I experience them, they are real to me in that moment and magic exists, as do superheroes and sweeping romance.  And laughter; much much laughter.

RIP Robin Williams

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

The Cowboy and the Princess by Lori Wilde

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 

Overcoming Fear

The RT Convention was held this past weekend. It is a jam-packed weekend of authors mingling with readers, holding talks, and throwing parties.  I didn’t attend and I have to admit that a part of me wishes I had gone, but a bigger part of me is thrilled I didn’t. It isn’t that I don’t love talking to readers because I do. It isn’t the travel because I love to travel. It isn’t even talking about my books because I love to talk about my books and writing. It’s all about the crowd. I am not comfortable in crowds. Never have been. I see pictures of rock concerts and I nearly get hives. For all my political leanings, you will never find me at a protest because I can’t stand in a throng. The pictures friends posted about RT had me gasping and gritting my teeth. It’s funny because I have no problem standing on a stage or in front of a room and speaking (well, a few nerves, but public speaking is NOT my number one fear. It doesn’t even make the top one hundred–I can’t testify that I actually have one hundred fears. Hyperbole is one of my favorite tools.), but put me in a position where I’m hemmed in by people and I become very uncomfortable. That’s the main reason why I don’t dream of traveling to place like Singapore. It’s a good thing I live in the West (although you will hear me complain about Albuquerque’s isolation–you can’t win with me).

Sometimes you have to participate in events that make you uncomfortable, and I have been to RT in the past and I’m considering going next year. So how do I get through those situations? Well, I have a theater background and I put on a mask. Not literally. I plaster a smile on my face, pretend I’m the person who loves to be out there and act. Acting doesn’t mean that I’m not sincerely thrilled with meeting people; it’s simply my coping mechanism.

More and more writing/being an author requires you to put yourself out there–in person and on-line. I don’t mind the on-line. I never post anything I wouldn’t tell or share with you to your face (thus the reason I keep my politics off my professional pages). Authors are required to do a lot of their own promotion until you’re big enough that your name alone generates buzz. So I overcome my fear and do it.

I’ve met authors who don’t like technology. Fine. But suck it up and learn it because you need to use it (unless you already have that big name that generates its own buzz). I’ve met authors who are socially awkward; that’s something else that can be learned. I’ve met authors who were required to change genres; do it. Authors have to make major career decisions for themselves and be in charge of hiring and firing agents, or deciding not to take a contract, or deciding to take a contract. None of those are pleasant tasks. Yes, even when you think something is a positive step, your decision  comes with new anxieties or fears or responsibilities.

Bottom line: writing is a job and sometimes requires uncomfortable actions. Yes, it’s creative, but it is a job and no job is wonderful 100% of the time.  Unless you’re doing it as a hobby. In that case, ignore what I’ve said and just enjoy.

And if you ever meet me at a conference, please be assured that I am happy to meet you, and if you corner me somewhere semi-private, you’ll find I’m really not distant and I love to talk and share ideas and stories.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Boy with this almost daily blogging I’m not making the reading progress I usually do. so I’m still on Storm of Swords by George RR Martin.