If writing a book about writing a movie about a book you once wrote about yourself isn’t the ultimate act of narcissism then doing a 65-city book tour promoting said book must be. I’ve never been more tired of any human being than I am of myself these last few weeks. It’s endless talk about why I wrote a book and why it’s important. Each night I give a presentation and two days each week are filled with radio interviews in which I explain why this book matters and why people should part with twenty bucks to read it. It’s a sad existence, but the truth is, with blogs and twitter and facebook, it’s just a commodified life that most of us are already living, that is to process our lives to be openly praised and criticized by neutral onlookers. So why do it?
Here are a few confessions and observations and justifications regarding the act of writing about yourself:
1. Confession: There is something in me that wants to be known by others. I share my life to have other people read about it, put down the book, look me in the eye and say “you exist.”
2. Confession: Half the time, if not more than half, I am full of bullshit. I share what will make me look good. If I am vulnerable, I share just enough vulnerability to be perceived as vulnerable, rather than to actually humiliate myself so that others can talk more openly about their own insecurities. I also leak in my accomplishments, and I’ve become a master at it. I don’t even know I am doing it half the time, and the other half I strategically list my accomplishments so that they come off as dismissive or “in passing.”
3. Justification: By exploring my own feelings about life, I am actually exploring the human condition, and in writing I try to find something interesting about “us” rather than “me” and so by reading about me, people are actually reading about themselves. I believe this is actually true of the memoirist. If they really wrote all about themselves, nobody would care.
4. Justification: More people can engage a first-person narrative than a preachy sharing of principles.
5. Justification: I didn’t make myself, I’m not taking credit for my existence, so what’s the difference between talking about myself and talking about somebody else?
6. Observation: I’ve actually known a few memoirists, and I’ve found them to be very humble people. Usually. And I’ve met even more people who write preachy books, and I’ve known them to be arrogant. Maybe if they talked about themselves more, they’d realize they’re just grunts like the rest of us. Also I think some of these people are actually afraid to have you know about their real lives.
Anyway, I will keep this list going. Feel free to include your confessions, justifications and observations as you process why you write about yourself. It’s fun to be human, I think.