Vulnerability, I’ve realised, is not a common core personality trait. It’s taken me years to understand and accept this. I’d always assumed that everyone would respond to my transparency with matched openness: I see your crazy and I raise you two quirks.
No. Over the years, especially my previous blogging years, I’ve felt much like a peep show. People peer into my little world and have a bit of a giggle, then they drift off congratulating themselves on their own sense of propriety, making slight adjustments to the layers of garments they wear in order to hide their own flaws. Push-up bras, jock straps and trench coats, all in response to my nakedness. It became rather disconcerting. Maybe, I thought, I’m nothing more than a flasher. That shady character who walks around the neighbourhood, suddenly exposing himself to anyone who chances by. What is he hoping to achieve? TMI is offensive. Apparently.
Vulnerability is not profitable, I concluded. And so, I’ve spent years trying to learn a different trade. Fiction. The art of trading truths through slight of hand. I’ll steal your preconceived ideas by replacing it with a new perspective. And you won’t even know when or how I’ve done it.
The story teller is the master pickpocket; he’s, Fagin.
But I’m no good at it… not yet. I’m still, Oliver getting found out by those I mean to swindle. I’ll keep working at it. Please, Sir, can I have some more…
Recently, after submitting several stories to a man who has been charged with ‘making me better’, I had a bit of an epiphany. He, after slopping through the short stories I feel are my best, pointed to the runt and said, “This is the best. I love this one.” But, it’s the oldest story. The one I wrote when I was still flashing my good bits unabashedly. It’s about vain imaginations, and nipples and masturbation.
“This is your voice. It’s the first time I’ve actually heard you in a story,” he insists.
My true writer’s voice is a masturbating pubescent flasher. Right. Of course. Chekov be damned.
I shouldn’t be surprised. In my physical life, I find every opportunity to be naked. I sleep in the knick… always have. I can’t actually abide pyjamas. What are they, and why do they exist?! I swim naked every chance I get. The best moment of every day is when I get to whip off my kit, and just be in my skin. I can’t help it, clothes feel foreign, and an imposition.
And so, here I am. Returning to the stage I know I can perform well on. The Vulnerability Dais. I guess I’ll write my truths and take my chances. You may like it, you may not.
The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say — Anais Nin.