As a newcomer to the idea of community, let alone an actual breathing, cross-promoting community of writers, I’m struggling with putting myself on any level, especially that of my new peers. If I talk about me, conversation will be rife with humble brags and sweeping declarations of my mediocre prose-presence when what I’d like to say, like to believe, is that I am good at this silly hobby of mine. I know that I need to get over myself. And under myself. And basically all up inside myself. But do I have to let you watch? Perhaps rooted in years of a self-deprecating (and hyphenated) brand of humor, or perhaps just plain old low self-esteem, I just can’t separate the idea of self-promotion from metaphorical masturbation.
I tell myself that what I want is constructive criticism. I want to grow, to learn from those who are better than I am and to finally do something other than force my Facebook friends to read my recapped ramblings. What I actually want, of course, is for people to tell me that I’m already there, that my work is done and to list the reasons why. Convincingly.
After almost a decade of romantic retardation (masked in snark and wrapped in punchlines) I don’t have it in me to accept or even recognize interest in the real world. The same can be said for the words that I write. Even this. This happening right now. Every letter keyed is so loaded in doubt that I couldn’t possibly survive a second draft. Dramatics aside, I’ve never written a second draft in my life. What comes out is what comes out. Never linger, never lament. Obviously, part of me knows I have something to say and understands that if nothing else, my friends and family are willing to enable my need to be read. If not celebrate it. Honestly, if I leave my thoughts as they lay, I can always reference haste as an excuse for mediocrity. Everyone loves a loophole (JK).
So what do I expect, if I won’t agree to self-aggrandizing? To self-stimulation. Can’t we partner up? I’ll stroke yours and you stroke mine. No strings attached. But, even as I suggest no strings, I have an urge to end this. To end the relationship we’re having. I’ve always had an issue with length. Size matters, after all, and I’m set on five hundred words or more. Anything less and is it really worth our time? If I leave you with this, will you think I’m flippant? They, the overarching “they”, always say to leave them wanting more. But where’s the line? If I find it, can I cross it to ask you what you think? To make sure you’re satisfied with simply watching me do mine? I promise I’ll return the favor.
As I reach the edge of what I’ve already and arbitrarily decided is the minimally acceptable length, I know I’ll half-heartedly self-promote on social media. I’ll toss out a “share it if you like it” suggestion and hipster my way into making you believe I don’t care either way. I’ll phone it in, like you do when you’re alone. Just enough to satisfy but not too much to seem desperate. But alone and with others are disparate experiences. At least if I’m alone, I can control the outcome. No publicity might be better than exaggeration and subsequent mass letdown, right?
I bet these are questions Carrie Bradshaw had. “If we’re stimulating ourselves in front of our constructed community, is it truly indecent exposure?”