Disclaimer: there will be hardly any origami, and no male genitalia available for viewing or download in this post.
The “origami penis” phrase arose in a meeting of the New River Writers Project, when one of our members mentioned that his life is “too boring to blog about.”
No, some of us countered, your life is not boring. Tell us about your eccentric clients! (I shall only reveal that he is a handsome fella of a certain age whose living demands he have extensive public contact. Not literal contact. Get your mind out of the gutter!)
The blog would have to be anonymous of course, someone added. You couldn’t reveal where you actually live. That’s true, he nodded. He paused. “I could call it the Handyman of Love,” he said.
We howled and moved on to the critiques, one of which was for a writer who’s hesitant about starting a blog without having at least a dozen posts ready to go. Another member joked that she didn’t really want to know what anyone else thought and would she have to receive comments on her blog? It was at this point that I slipped into writerly observation mode.
Ten of us were circled around a table; we all have stories in various stages of “polish” and professionalism; we write for a variety of reasons; we range in age from under-thirty to over-sixty.
But the humor within which we conceal-revealed our concerns led me to guess that we all share a worry that maybe we’re not unique enough, not literary enough, not funny enough, not interesting enough. Is this because we’re not in NYC? Because we don’t have MFAs from prestigious writing programs? Why do we think our lives don’t meet the “interesting-enough” criteria?
Robert Boswell noted, in the Taos workshop I reference here, that writers must steal ruthlessly from their own lives. Writing is an ever-spinning dance: between arrogance (sitting down and writing my stories is worth the time and energy and money!), and humility (if I want anyone to read my stories, I need critiques of my drafts). Sometimes the whirl makes me dizzy. I am a Goddess! vs. I am a sh*t-shoveler in the lowest circle of hell. And who am I to tell anyone else what they should or shouldn’t do?
I’m betting this is not a surprise to anyone who undertakes a creative endeavor. And as I write this, I’m thinking sheesh, so WHAT, everyone knows this, shut up already.
But the responses I receive to my words surprise and humble me, and that’s the thing: when we don’t share our creative acts, we don’t know what connections we’ve missed. The what-ifs are infinite. Every kind word suppressed because I felt self-conscious, every deleted phrase, every un-remarked-upon link between X and Y: each of these might have opened a whole other path to venture down. Not necessarily a better path, or a worse path, but certainly one with more connection.
Why do we shy away from those connections? I have found that people, on the whole, tend toward decency and kindness. Those who don’t are great “testimony” for our writerly selves. Tell your stories!
That fellow-writer with a boring life? He speculated about making origami penises as part of a handyman of love business and sent us all into a borderline-hysterical orbit of giggling. He inspired my words here. Connections galore!