I’ve been thinking a lot about the “don’t reveal too much personal info on your blog” concept. And though no one wants to admit this, I think I know where some of that idea comes from.
Several years ago I was fascinated by European royalty, especially the British royal family. Bought tons of books on Charles, Diana, the Queen, Queen Mum, etc. Read them all. Loved them.
And I read somewhere that one reason the royals kept to themselves (in the years before Diana) was to purposely preserve the “mystique” that kept them apart from the rest of society. It’s hard to respect a man you’ve seen coming out of the loo, so whenever royalty travels, all the restrooms are blocked off so that the royals don’t have to mingle with the common folk. There are zillions of unwritten rules such as “Never photograph the queen with her mouth full of food,” etc. Why? Because she’s supposed to be above the rest of us, she’s the QUEEN.
But truthfully, she’s a woman who eats and sleeps and has to go to the loo just like the rest of us. She inherited her position, and despite what you think of her personally (I happen to like her immensely), before becoming princess she did nothing to deserve the title.
Now . . . some writers are like that. They want to preserve the mystique of novel writing, so they don’t blog for fear they might reveal something too personal. When they travel and speak, they want to take dinner in their rooms and their speeches are filled with bits of poetry and talk about “the Muse,” as if inspiration were a fairy who deigns to light upon mere mortals only once every hundred years. You can listen for these folks talk for an hour and come out of the auditorium unable to relate a single thing that was said. All you know is that the speech was terribly pretty and acutely painful because it left pins and needles in your bum.
If one of these folks gives a “how-to” clinic, it’s likely to be filled with quotes from other writers and lots of philosophy about the novel’s meaning, purpose, and subtext. In other words, the beginning writer will not be able to grasp a single useful tool. Why? Methinks it’s because the Writer of Mystique doesn’t want others to realize that 1) he has to use the loo, too, and 2) anyone who has a measure of talent, a willingness to learn, and a bucketful of determination could write a novel.
When I started writing, I picked up a copy of DARE TO BE A GREAT WRITER by Leonard Bishop. Among dozens of truly wonderful tips, he included this:
“Make it impossible for the next generation of writers by claiming you work 14 hours a day, and rewrite everything a minimum of 74 times. Confess you have sacrificed family and friends to take long moonlight walks to commune with your creative muse, accompanied only by your loyal dog or parakeet. Research some obscure but scholarly European and Asian writers and claim they influenced your career.
“Rehearse a skill for blurting out spontaneous epigrams. They need not be relevant to the subject being discussed, or make much sense. It is the way writers are supposed to speak. ‘No one can be graceful walking down hill.’ ‘Parents are mills grinding out neurotics.’ ‘Only in the dream does one behind reality.’ . . .
“You are almost a genuine novelist. You have earned admission into a cult of national and international deceivers. The uniform is either attire so meticulously current you obviously employ a cadre of designers, or so disorderly that ‘rag-bag’ is your fashion statement. You are a novelist–the public stands in anticipation of your illustrious presence. Do not disappoint them by appearing to be ordinary.”
LOL! I believe–I hope–that Bishop wrote that tongue in cheek. All I know is that most of the novelists I know are ordinary people, just like me, just like you.
Catch you in a line outside the ladies’ room somewhere–