Thursday, September 4, 2008

Nudity, Writing, and Being a PK

So Brenda sent me this blog entry awhile ago, and I'm just getting around now to commenting on it. It's a fascinating take on the nudity analogy for writing, in an effort to explain why writing is hard for some people.

As I read this, I realized that I was always cautious in what I said to others when I was growing up, but over time, I've become more comfortable with both saying and writing, though are are still things people don't get to know.

As a kid, part of the cautiousness was my personality, but I think a lot of it had to do with being a PK (that's a pastor's kid, for you uninitiated in the initialisms of the world of Protestant denominations). We lived, mostly, in small towns, and everyone knew what the pastor and his family were up to all the time. So I lived a somewhat-public life. The frequent analogy is "living in a glass house," which is remarkably similar to the nudity analogy.

The point is, I think, now that I'm all grown up and blessed with receding to being a regular church member, this upbringing both taught me to be more and less private about what I say in both spoken and written forms. One realizes, when looking back at glass house living from a blessed distance, that it's not such a big deal if people know that you're going to the store, or if you like a certain kind of fruit.

Other things, of course, as one learns from glass house living, can be more damaging to oneself and others to let out, and one is naturally cautious about those. But the thing about glass house living is that one learns strategies, after years, to realize what's really important to keep private vs. what's somewhat personal, but isn't such a big deal to let others know about.

One realizes, when looking back, that this training prepares one quite well for the writing life and its inevitable need to disclose some things, but not too much. Incidentally, I also think it's prepared me for all the weird social modalities that come up through communicating on Facebook.


Andrew said...

Hi, Deb,

Enjoying your blog--albeit silently thus far. Just wanted to say that the nudity thing, or something like it, is possibly the single biggest barrier I encounter to writing. Particularly the version Anne Lamott personifies as the lady looking over your shoulder who says, "Well, THAT isn't very good, now, is it?"

Occasionally I can get her to shut up, or ignore her long enough to get something on the page. And then I see that, well, actually she's wrong. I guess in the other analogy, I find that I look good naked...!

Deborah Leiter said...

Hi Andrew,

Somehow I feel like I should be thanking you for "coming out of the non-commenting/lurking closet," which is of course another disclosure-related analogy that makes it highly appropriate that you chose this posting on which to do so. :)

And yes, I also struggle with that critic Anne's so beautifully described, at times. But I'm starting to get around her, more and more. And I'm realizing my PK youth (beyond developing my hatred for stereotypes) is an asset, most of the time, in doing that. Which I find delightfully ironic.

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