The Real Me?

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.

A Turtle Nobody

A Turtle Nobody

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….”)

The Real Me?

The Real Me?

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 StaffordThe 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.)


8 thoughts on “The Real Me?

  1. Perfect timing and a continuation of our conversation yesterday. I’m going to start looking for the Real Me today and will let you know if and when I find her!

    • Thanks, Susan. Writing does help because so many “me’s” show up on the page (from characters, to narrators, to who can predict?). Every day is a new beginning and the search continues. So good to see you yesterday.

  2. Yes, yes, yes. The real me is who I am at this moment. And yet, I attended 2 readings Saturday. I thought differently about the work I heard because I’d learned that the novelist had been a Dean of Students at UNCSA. That explained the extraordinary amount of research he’d done, and the lengths to which he’d gone to do that research. At the 2d reading, I know I heard a poet differently because I’d learned that he’d been a critic for a couple of decades; that, unusually, he loved the college at which he now taught; even that he’d given a lot of Fs recently. (Although I hate grades, his reasoning for handing out the Fs was right on.)

    • Good point…”who I am at this moment.” Today in yoga class, the teacher ended with a meditation to remember during the day: “I am timeless and ageless.” In each moment, this seems to be true.

      Also it is true: the lens we see through does alter what we see. I think about this sometimes when I read a published piece in a magazine. If that same piece appeared in a writing workshop, it would be looked at differently.

  3. The real me? I don’t think I’ve met him yet. I’m still trying to figure myself out despite being a “seasoned” citizen. My wife thinks I’m conceited and that I repeat myself too much. Gee, I’ve always thought I was a well-educated guy who can’t stop teaching. Once a teacher always a teacher, I guess. At least I do know I’m a writer. If I stop writing, I stop breathing. That much I’m sure of. Maybe life is just one long self-discovery trip. I’ll have to think about that after I take my nap.

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