Next month, a short story of mine will be appearing in the inaugural issue of The Young Raven’s Literary Review. You can preview an excerpt from “A Fruitful Tale” here: http://www.youngravensliteraryreview.org/
The preview also includes an interview in which I talk about my major creative influences as well as my major crush on the character, Daniel Deronda (seriously, it was a very good day when George Eliot decided to tell Mr. Deronda’s story in 800 glorious pages. I honestly believe his existence cancels out all the whiny douchebaggery of any Charles Dickens hero).
Most of me is excited for the world to read “A Fruitful Tale” next month. It is a story that I needed to write, and, it has delighted and helped my inner circle of friends. If it has helped and delighted me and those I hold the closest to me, I’d be a short-sighted story miser to keep it from others. But, there is simultaneously a small bit of me that is currently going: “OH GOD. OH GOD. OH GOD. I’M EXPOSING BITS OF MY INNER LIFE TO STRANGERS. I FEEL SOOOO NAKED AND VULNERABLE AND THAT NAKEDNESS AND VULNERABILITY IS SUPER PUBLIC AND THAT COMBINATION IS JUST THE WORST. WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF?”
I shouldn’t be surprised that this small bit of me has such a big worry. I am putting a piece of fiction into the world, and as a writer, I find writing fiction to be much more exposing than writing non-fiction. In non-fiction, I can direct my audience’s gaze, neatly hedging in their reading experience with carefully articulated facts and emotions. The pronoun “I” can be used to create intimacy, but it also can be used to control. I am letting you into my head. And I am tightly controlling your perception of my narrative.
That’s not how it is when I write fiction. There is something about a narrative which is created from abstraction that leaves me and my most inner of inner lives completely naked. I’ve been writing fiction since I was ten and this truth still surprises me. Creating a fictional story turns off the hyper self-aware part of me, leaving me to show my audience only how I feel. Fiction cannot be distracted by a sequence of exterior events—it is crafted from the ideas and joys and muddles that are always flowing through my body. Writing fiction is as interior as I can get, and with me, deep interiority is tied to inarticulate notions of privacy, intimacy, and vulnerability.
Gah, so utterly terrifying.
Yet, so utterly exhilarating.
Since fiction is such an exposing craft, it allows me to give words to that which is most private and unsayable for me. By articulating this, I get to see me and my desires and my longings better. Which, in turn, helps others to see themselves and their desires and their longings better. My willingness to tell a secret story swirling around in my subconscious will help others to be brave and start telling their own.
And knowing that my vulnerability in fiction may help others, makes all the trouble worthwhile—even though there is still that little bit of me breathlessly rambling on in all caps.