A palm reader once told me that as a writer, I would never be as popular as Danielle Steel. “But,” he said, “ if I wanted to continue my navel gazing, I was free to.” I didn’t really mind that he put me and Danielle Steel in the same sentence, but the phrase “navel gazing,” did make me wince. Was that all I was doing? Was I not contributing anything? That was 15-years ago. It’s funny what you remember and what sticks over the years. The truth is, I do spend a good amount of time reflecting on my life, the people in it, the experiences I have, and what my relationships teach me. Call me a navel gazer, that’s the material that shows up in my writing, and often in my blog. This is also what I teach other people to do.
The challenge lately is that a lot of what I want to explore feels terribly personal and uncooked to me. I’m fascinated with intimacy and alternative, non-exclusive relationships. I’m exploring, sorting out new relationships, asking myself who I am and what I want. The blog, which has always been a place to share and examine my world, doesn’t feel like the right venue for this work. Even my ex, who is usually so supportive of my writing told me flat out, “Do not publish that piece,” after I’d read him something that I thought was funny and brave and interesting. “People are going to misunderstand you,” he added.
He wasn’t the first person to raise an eyebrow. I’d sent an earlier version of the blog to my good friend Lisa Jones in Boulder, an awesome writer and someone who often looks over my work before it goes out.
The header of her email back to me read: “I’m exhausted and cranky, so if you only want good news, don’t read on.”
Of course I did, and she told me that I hadn’t written anything that I hadn’t written before, that I should back off the subject until I found a new way to talk about it. And also, because she really is my true friend, warned me that my use of words like “vulnerable and naked” were overused and not very interesting. “Find some fresh language,” she suggested.
Okay, so she was cranky – but let’s cut her some slack. By her own accord, she is menopausal and maybe she’d stayed up too late with her husband watching T.V. in bed, possibly eating ice cream – and the sugar rush and subsequent come down would’ve made the next morning hard. But she was right, everything she said was true and she spared me the embarrassment of putting something out there that really wasn’t ready for prime time.
Honestly, I was relieved to be pushed like this by my very smart friend, who said, “it’s fine, but it’s not good.” It had me step back and consider what I wanted to say about intimacy and these non-traditional relationships.
There’s being brave and dare I say, there’s being foolish – not in a bad way like stupid – but I think certain subjects benefit from a little more thoughtfulness and respect from the writer – that’s me – so that I can work out the layers, step back and step in. I don’t want to dash this material off like a can-can girl on stage for two minutes, flipping up her dress and running off stage in a 700 word blog. It’s not fair to the material, it’s not fair to me – who fears being misunderstood – and it’s not fair to the reader who just might want to read something intelligent about intimacy that is outside of their comfort zone. It is my real hope to contribute something thoughtful to the conversation and not just navel gaze. I’ll keep you posted.