In 1988 I published my first book, a story collection titled Bad Behavior. I wrote the book in part because I was trying to understand/interpret the world and trying to find a way into it. For me “the world” was New York City which I loved or at least liked a lot more than where I’d come from, Michigan. I liked that I could be invisible in this huge place full of such various people, to be quiet and just take it in; because I was young and quiet, people would say and do all kinds of things around me that were amazing to watch and hear.
But I wanted to do more than observe, I wanted very badly to connect with this world, to be in it. I could go out and sometimes get into the club but then I didn’t know how to talk to people once I was there. People would walk up to you and say things that, even when they were polite, felt like challenges to some kind of duel! For me it required a lot of courage, especially given that I was usually alone. I often felt baffled and humiliated but I still kept trying.
Then I wrote this book and suddenly I was connected, so connected, not only to the broader society but to people’s inmost thoughts and feelings. It was wonderful, awful and confusing. But mostly wonderful. I had not only helped myself; incredibly, I had helped other people understand and connect. Not everybody! But some and “some” was enough.
Many years and eight books later: I have never been on social media because it is hard for me to understand or trust. It’s like a club where you can’t see anyone, can’t hear their voices. You can’t just be quiet and watch, because there is nothing to see but typed words; you can’t see or sense the person they come from. So being here too requires a lot of courage. But I still want to do it for the same reason I started writing a long time ago; to connect with people. Again, I’m negotiating a world that I don’t understand and I’m guessing a lot of you don’t either; I’m hoping we can figure something out together and enrich each other doing it.
I’ll be posting twice a week, on subjects from fiction to incel phenomenon to gorgeous worms at the bottom of the ocean. I’ll also be talking writers and other people trying to figure things out.