This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Have a Story Worthy Week"

Last Labor Day weekend saw us with neighbors and friends barbecuing hot dogs and hamburgers as Real Americans do.  I brought a winning broccoli slaw and ended the night with a massive strudel-like apple pie from Costco.  I mean, really?  Can you get any more cliché?  It was lovely.  The hosts were our surrogate grandparents up the road, they throw a fine party.  As we picked at the last crumbs from the massive strudel pie, our surrogate grandmother's daughter asked me how my writing was going.  She relayed to me a conversation she had with another neighbor of ours.  Apparently they were talking and he wondered aloud about what I was writing.  Then, she told me, he blurted out, almost giggling, "For all we know she could be writing an erotica novel!"  I was agape as she mimicked him: older, dorky, and unassuming.

I like to look good, and sexy is something I aim for, when I aim at all.  I don't try much else than being comfortable these days.  I bend, lift, and hip sling an ever chubbier infant all day, cook, sweep and do my best to keep busy making things happen.  Yep that's me, another sweet cliché       

It made me uncomfortable, as I'd just spent the better part of a conversation specifically looking into the eyes of said neighbor-fantasizer's wife because I didn't want to acknowledge that his eyes were lingering too long on my tits.  I guess what I want is a bit like wanting someone to read your mind.  I don't want to attract attention from everyone, just the ones I do want to attract.  That's hard to control and sometimes, when I'm getting looked up and down I feel like I'm being seen right through.  I wonder what is seen.  I imagine what is known.  Of course, nothing is, but I do get the sensation that something about me has been found out at times.  Today I was still thinking about this story and wondering, had he heard me mid-screaming orgasm? Had he read some sexy story I'd written online? I shook off the notions, as I write using names other than my given full name when writing online.  I protest to Hadj, saying unconvincing things like I'm a nice girl!  

I just have to accept what I don't want to.  I have some thing.  There's an overtly sexual energy to me and I can't seem to turn it off at will.  I don't even know it's on until something has made me feel terribly wrong and icky.  So I guess it boils down to guilty conscious.  No, I'm not currently writing an erotica novel, but I have written erotica.  I am feeling the itch to write about some of my understandings regarding the evolution of a BDSM relationship again.  It's all there, simmering just under the surface as, apparently, my tits are simmering just under my shirt.

What I am writing has been published on this blog for the most part.  A lot of what I need to express falls into the highly inflated category of creative non-fiction.  They used to call it memoir, but that must have been seen as sounding too soap opera or something because, with David Sedaris and those who followed, a new genre was born.  Creative non-fiction is so astoundingly popular now it's making novels seem like an even more beautiful form, if only because of their comparative rarity.  It's everywhere.  To name a few of my favorite creative non-fiction style, literary radio programs, there's The Moth (whose motto is the title of this post), This American Life, and Radiolab.  In my casual reading on the web it seems like this genre explosion began with my generation, or the one just before mine. 

I've been watching season two of Mad Men online lately and there was a super short bit recently that struck me.  They got some college age kids in the office to pitch to them the word on the street.  These "kids" had a sixty or something page manifesto from their pals at Michigan State University.  The idea behind this manifesto, the ad agency interns for hire said, was that their generation didn't want to be told things.  They wanted to feel.  They didn't want to hear, "Drink cola, it'll make you feel peppy."  They wanted to have the ad itself make them feel peppy.  So these kids are hired on and they make a radio ad for something or other and the add winds up being great.  It's some kind of Brazilian Tropicalia music with the name of the product dreamily sung in here and there.  They equate breezy exotic beach music with the product being sold.  It seemed to me that this was an example of the birth of "the brand."  The ad agencies probably were told something like what this scene depicts in the early sixties and they tried it and it took off.  By the time the hippies sobered up, realized their revolution had been largely ineffective, and they now needed to either buy a farm or get a job, the brand machine was in full swing.  I think that's interesting.  My generation was raised on advertising and it's been said that the pissy mood of Generation X was due, in part, to the branding of their environments.  By the time I was consuming media, it was done.  

So I'm drawing a conclusion that the feelings being created during the hippie era of advertising gave way to entirely constructed environments, meant to evoke certain feelings which would then evoke certain responses.  The memoir, or creative non-fiction genre, might be a way for the children raised in these plastic environments to talk back, to say, "Hey, I have personal ideas that don't revolve around an artificially erected experience."  (Ad agencies have responded to that anti-capitalism back lash quite adeptly, turning to crowd sourcing as a way to get the target (aka consumer) involved in the creation of the advertising being used to sell this or that.)  

I heard an author interview, with Gary Shteyngart, a few months ago that really stuck with me.  I should read the new book he was plugging, Super Sad True Love Story, because I've referenced back to that interview a few times since hearing it in May.  He said many memorable things (among them, how Mad Men's writers are indebted to the precision of novels) and one of the things that stuck with me was this:    "[Everyone] is a writer now.  You know, everyone's a writer.  Nobody wants to read, but everybody wants to write.  These MFA programs, we can't, you know we can't turn them away.  There's just millions of applicants.  Everybody wants to be a writer.  It's this huge culture of self-expression."  

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