I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this problem. I can’t be. The real problem is, of course, that most of those who have it aren’t out giving advice or helping the rest of us figure out what to do about it, due to the nature of said problem.
The problem? Feeling like a phony, like I’m strapping a mask on every once in a while to go pretend I’m some friendly little chatty Cathy who loves everyone and wants to be everybody’s pal. Of course, perhaps that feels phony because it is phony. That is in no way my actual personality or attitude. I’m a deep seated introvert and people watcher, who finds most social contact – but especially social contact that I have to initiate – almost actively painful. Some people have claimed I might be autistic or suffer from Aspergers or some other alphabet soup disorder; I tend to be simpler: I’m a distrustful and solitary creature.
Now, that doesn’t mean I can’t interact with other people. When someone else starts a conversation or otherwise indicates to me that they have the desire to interact, well, gosh, that’s easy. I have a springboard, something to work from, a touchpoint to indicate what the purpose of that situation may be. But going the other way – no matter how interesting the blog post, how much that tweet made me laugh, or how awesome I think your shirt is while we wait in line at the 7-11 for our morning coffee and cigarettes – is something that’s almost impossible and prone to giving me migraines.
Of course, as someone who, in theory at least, would like to encounter individuals in the wide world who might one day have an interest in reading the things I have written, and who despite his own self-loathing and feeling that his literary efforts are perhaps a cruel joke at best is aware that there will never be a judgement (or a paycheck) if others are not made aware of those efforts existing, that means I don’t get a lot of choice. Unless I had a bag of money lying around with which to hire a PR professional, anyway. *glances around* I don’t see that bag, so…
But when I do manage to click that “Reply” button, or the “Quote Retweet,” or muster up enough self-confidence to think that my answer to a question might actually be worthwhile, I have to fight rising tides of self-hatred and then stare at the words on the screen (or replay the words in my head) and say “Ugh, is that me? Ew, ew, ew, ew! Get it off me!” Then go find a bathroom and a straight razor so I can slice off the false face that I feel I just put over my own for that half second, no matter how trivial.
I feel that way about the writing itself, a lot of the time. That my talk of being a writer, a novelist, an author is just a sham, something to hide behind. It doesn’t matter that there’s a pile of books with my name on them that people can buy and read, or how frequently or not they do or don’t do that. They’re just smoke. I’m supposed to be hiding behind a rubbish bin or serving nasty spaghetti in a cafeteria, not dumpster diving through 100+ year old books by day and beating back my laziness, self-hatred, depression and disabilities to keep trying to type at night. That’s what I was meant to do, and I know it. Being anything but a gutter-dwelling troglodyte, let alone voicing such wishes, is a pipe dream, a fancy play that I may occasionally understudy for but that I am never going to be the headliner in.
And you know what? Even as I say all of that, I know it’s not entirely true. I want to be more. I want to do better. I want to be something other than the creepy guy in the corner staring everyone down and I want to be the friendly, wordy guy that people might actually enjoy interacting with once in a while. I just don’t know how, or won’t let myself. And it’s driving me crazy.
Sorry for the psychobabble, folks. Just having issues coming up with something actually applicable to write about that doesn’t involve vampires dropping soft-serve on Twihard chick’s heads and trying to beat back the pesky sorrow that comes every year around this time.