Brad Green has tagged me to participate in an Internet meme that he’s calling Seven Degrees of Separation. The idea is for me to list seven things about myself and then tag seven other bloggers to do the same. Because Brad Green is a writer (and therefore must be expecting sheer literary genius?), I will now have to wage a terrifying battle against the urge to try to be incredibly clever and poetic as I write these seven things (thereby dooming myself to paralysis and shame as I become an Internet loser who never gets around to answering the tag). I will defeat this urge by completing the list, but I won’t promise that it won’t come out pretentious, or full of painful attempts to be witty. I’m usually not into this sort of thing. I’d like to act like I’m way too cool for it, but, the truth is, I’m pathetically grateful for the sign that someone reads my blog…
1. I love socks. Gifts of socks always make me happy, no matter how ugly the socks are. When I lose one sock in the laundry, I embark on such an intense search that I remind myself of that Bible story about the shepherd who only has one sheep.
2. My car seems connected to my body. When it gets dented, I feel physical pain. When I drive, I relish the connection of my feet to the machine. This would make sense if I drove a Lotus Elise, but I actually drive a 1997 Honda Civic.
3. The first thing I can remember writing was an (illustrated) story of two girls who beat the hell out of each other and then say they’re sorry at the end (Can’t remember how old I was).
4. I have five first drafts of novels in the proverbial drawer. I love to write, and I hate to revise (though I am trying to learn).
5. I did not own a computer until 2005. I wrote all four full drafts of my senior thesis in college in longhand, and accepted my roommate’s boyfriend’s offer to type it. I am now a technology journalist who specializes in writing about computers and the Internet.
6. I have pretended to be a man online on several occasions.
7. I can walk just about forever without getting tired or tired of it. I can’t stand any other form of exercise.
Required analysis of list construction:
It took me about an hour to choose seven things. How to be amusingly self-deprecating without making myself sound pathetic? How to talk about writing without sounding like a braggart (or a loser)? What tidbit will be odd and a bit titillating without making me feel ashamed?
The way I write about something shapes the way I see it, and the way a reader sees it. It’s uncomfortable to write about myself for that reason. This makes me think of Wired’s story on Internet-famous self-promoter Julia Allison:
Allison’s greatest accomplishment isn’t the volume of content she creates; it’s that she gets anyone to care about it. Her trick, she says, is to think of herself as the subject of a magazine profile, with every post or update adding dimensions to her as a character. “I treat it like a fire,” she says. “You have to add logs, or it’ll be like one of those YouTube videos that flame out.”
I was fascinated by this paragraph in particular. Since I was young, I’ve periodically “written” third-person narration about myself in my head, usually making myself into a heavily romanticized character full of brilliance and importance to the world (“She settles herself on the couch and opens her laptop. She is impossibly beautiful, her long, dark hair falling across one eye as she peers at the glowing screen. She doesn’t know it yet, but what she is about to write will be remembered forever.”). Part of becoming properly socialized, I think, is to learn to keep this sort of thing to oneself, as well as its close companion, the urge to paint oneself as completely helpless and lame. Like anyone who has a blog, microblog feed, Facebook page, and so on, I do think about how to present myself. But I avoid directly confronting the question. Wired got some flack for writing this story (people complained that it wasn’t an important subject), but I think it is important because of the mirror it raises. We all flirt with being self-promoters. That’s clear to me when I spend a tortured hour coming up with seven things about myself, or when I’m trying to fill out one of those cursed bio boxes when I’m submitting a story. Julia Allison provides excellent material for thinking about this issue, and clearly thinks about it herself.
OK, analysis over. Now, the final problem of choosing seven bloggers who might accept a tag from me:
1. Jason Stout
4. Matt Bell
5. The Weaklings (Is it cheating to tag a group?)
And, what the hell:
7. Julia Allison (I don’t know her, but, now that she’s come up in my analysis, I’m curious how she would approach this task, and it seems worth a shot)
Next post will be back to the regularly scheduled program of effusive rants on publishers and stories that I like.