Pride and Prejudice

Some years ago I attended a training session in Boston. I’d never been to Boston. Funnily enough, just a few weeks before, I’d met an author at an event I was working – a delightfully eccentric, older (than me) man with a sharp mind, voracious curiosity, and less than average enthusiasm for diplomacy. It wasn’t that kind of encounter but it was really great conversation.

“If you’re ever in Boston…” he’d said.

So one evening I made arrangements to meet him at a bar in Cambridge and we picked up where we’d left off. I felt a bit like an ingénue and I had the vague impression that he was quietly amused by our somewhat clandestine meeting – drinking Chardonnay and talking about our careers in a dimly lit bar.

“You should be a writer,” he told me late into the evening. Flatter me again! But I looked at him and I told him the bald truth.

“Honestly? I have nothing to say.” And I meant it.

He threw back his head and laughed until he caught his breath enough to cough, “That’s marvelous.” He then pondered for a moment and said, “I’ve noticed that nice people don’t make very good writers.”

Huh.

So what did he mean? (Anybody need a thesis topic?) I’ve tossed around the idea that maybe whether you’re an artist or an entrepreneur, creativity requires a certain amount of hubris – the courage to be an amateur, the ability to fail against your own standards, and enough “I don’t give a damn” to put it out there anyway. We can’t be artists without doing art. We have to show up.

So am I going to be a writer? Who knows and frankly, does it matter? What does matter is that I have something to say and that, now and again, I say it. I don’t want my inner life to be a silent movie playing to an empty house. And I don’t want to abdicate a role in the conversation around me because I don’t know what I have to contribute.

Mother Sugar, you saved me a seat. This is me pulling one up to the table.

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5 thoughts on “Pride and Prejudice

  1. I’m quite liking the image of the clandestine meeting in the dimly lit bar! It’s funny the idea of ingenue. There is something romantic about it, alluring, and hopeful. The older I get the more I wouldn’t mind being one again. Think of it, romantic adventures, scintillating conversation! And yet, during my ingenue days, I resented what felt like a blind spot. I remember wanting more than anything to be the wise old hack. I feel like I’m closer to that end of the spectrum these days.

    I have said the same thing as you- I have nothing to say. Maybe that’s why I went to fiction. Because I could make stuff up. I think there is a kind of confidence that comes with writing nonfiction, especially. I admired all the folks who did it, wondered how they balanced narcissism with their art. But just think how fascinated we always are by other people, and the only way to indulge that is when people share a bit of themselves. Revealing is the only way to connect. Via this post, lemon tart, I have new insight into you, me, us. I’m buying a ticket to your film.

    • That’s funny what you say about wishing you could feel like an ingenue again because I feel that way all the time! I’m not sure whether that comes from being lower on the ladder at work, being a woman working with mostly older men, not having kids, not having a partner or (more likely than not) just a lack of confidence. I spend a lot of time walking through life wide-eyed still and I’m sometimes torn between really trying hard to force myself to give it up or just embracing it as part of who I am.

      Thanks for buying a ticket to my show. We can sit in the audience together and eat popcorn in rapt suspense. LOL.

      • i was about to say embrace it, and then I thought there was a time i might have said, give it up! And really, it’s both. Whatever keeps you happy and sane and thinking. And may I say that I’m feeling rather ingenue-like in the company of all the mother sugars.

        o God. Popcorn with fake yellow stuff. miss that. they only do salty here. at least no mayonnaise.

  2. “What does matter is that I have something to say and that, now and again, I say it”. This, to me, is what being a writer, or an aritst of any kind, really is about. Telling yourself over and over again, reminding yourself when you’ve already heard it a million times, that you have something to say.

    And you do!!! I for one am so glad that you are saying it. Don’t stop!

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