A couple of days ago I decided that I needed an “About Me” page on the website. As most of you know, this is standard procedure for websites and blogs–a place for the creator of the site to say a little about him/herself and to state the purpose of the site. So I added one.
Now I’m having second thoughts. I need to clarify that what I wrote is not “the real me.” The real me is sitting here in her bathrobe trying to put thoughts together. The real me struggles every day to write. The real me spends an awful lot of time reading the paper in a comfy chair on the deck, where the real me stops reading to listen to the birds. (Today the real me is watching a stalwart swallow try to build a nest in the recessed light fixture.) The real me wastes a lot of time. But can I say this on my “About Me” page?
Several years ago when my friend Marge Barrett and I started teaching our classes at the Loft in Minneapolis, we decided not to spend the first class having folks go around saying their names and introducing themselves in the usual way because all of that ended up taking the entire first class period. In the long run, it isn’t that important what we did, or even wrote, before the class started. The main purpose is to get down to the business of writing.
By now, if we’ve lived long enough, we all have a lot to say about ourselves, and for the most part, much of it is in the past. So that is the reason I’ll probably take down the “About Me” page. It feels so past. It reveals such a fraction of who I am or even was. (“I’m Nobody,” says Emily Dickinson. “Then there are two of us./How dreary to be Somebody!/How public like a Frog….”)
Oh, and in case you haven’t guessed, that photo on the “About Me” page isn’t the real me. Here’s a more recent one, which since I hardly ever fish, isn’t the real me either.
The point I’d like to make: Let’s not compare ourselves to others (including those writers we see on book jackets) or even to our alternate or past selves for that matter. Our time is better spent simply writing–or fishing (another metaphor for writing.) Maybe being a Nobody isn’t such a bad thing–it allows us so much more freedom.
The poet William Stafford (“A Ritual to Read to Each Other”) has said:
“If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.”
― William Edgar Stafford, The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems
Writing Jumpstart: “The Real Me?” Go for ten minutes. Try this in your writer’s notebook for several days and see what happens. (I’ll continue to add these jumpstarts to the posts. What’s “ten minutes” in a whole day? If you feel so inclined, send me one of your ten-minute writings. See contact page of the site.)