Dance of the ∞ veils Part Two

Brodsky says old men can only write a memoir or a diary. I tried a few sentences of a memoir, but making sense of the noise in my head felt too much like hard work. My days are full, I’m too busy for a diary. For years now I can only write if there’s at least a faint suggestion that someone might be interested in reading what I write. But a website blog needs content, which felt enough like an editor calling with an idea to get me going.
The posts come easily, though while I’m writing each post feels like the last I’ll have enough ideas to fill. I post Monday mornings. By Monday afternoon I’m writing another in my head. All I need is an idea and an opening sentence. But it always feels like the last idea I’ll have.
So far problems with self-disclosure haven’t stymied me: I’ve avoided thinking about it.
It helps that no matter how much tweaking I do after I write the first draft on Tuesday morning, I seem to forget what I’ve written when I close my laptop. I can’t obsess about what I’ve obliterated from memory. Which circumvents worrying about how I’ve violated that long list of things I’d forbidden myself to write about.
I’m a therapist. I’m trained not to talk about myself. Which is convenient, since I’m somewhat lacking in basic trust. Which is inconvenient, because it would seem to severely constrict my choice of things to write about. (When I used to write journalism I didn’t write about myself because I had nothing to say about myself, not because I didn’t want to write it.) I’ve told only one therapy client that I used to write fiction, and that’s because he’s a writer and I worried he might come across the republished books and think I’d been sneaky. (Decades ago, when I was doing a training internship, a client kept asking me to help him find an agent, so I suppose he knew I’d been a writer. In those days I was too green to handle the issue. I just ignored his requests.)
Who am I when I write? Therapist? Writer? I have no trouble calling myself a therapist because I have a license. I’m in considerable doubt about whether I’m a writer, not least because I don’t do it very often, not least because what I earn from writing wouldn’t feed a spoiled San Francisco mutt. Not that I earn much doing therapy. (How much I don’t earn from therapy was on my list of things not to write about.)
My truth is that the urge to write words that might get published is akin to a porn star exposing every orifice for a close-up. Once I start it’s hard to stop and I don’t obsess about the consequences. Writers (and porn stars, I think) need that sliver of ice in their hearts that Graham Greene referred to. I have that sliver, but mostly regarding myself rather than other people, at least nowadays. There’s a certain callous willingness to exhibit ourselves, and we’re only harmed by it if we think we are. Humans resemble onions with an infinite core. No matter how publicly revealed or degraded we are, however many layers are exposed, there is always more that no one will ever know. We’re only vulnerable if we think we are.
I couldn’t have written my first novel if I’d allowed myself to think about the consequences (what people would think of me) if it got published. I couldn’t have written my first novel if I’d allowed myself to think about the consequences if it didn’t get published. (Why am I indulging in this irritating mannerism that Didion uses to pad her sparse pages?) These days I’m more willing to admit to myself that there will be consequences. I’ll deal with it.

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