Thursday, July 28, 2011

Alas, Poor Lem
Let's just get this out of the way first.   Yes, I do have tickets to the midnight screening of Cowboys & Aliens.  I've been waiting a year for this film and I didn't want to have to wait another day.  Hell, last night I dreamed Shane Vendrell was a Jedi and was flying around the galexy with Obi Wan (Ewan McGregor--it's the one part of my Star Wars roots I just can't seem to stay true to, sorry) on a quest to avenge Lem's death.  Oh, and Jedi Shane was in love with me.  I dream in really bad fanfiction.

Point is, I'm staying up past my bedtime, and I even have a snap-front western shirt I fashioned into a dress to wear.  Liz Ellis over at The Insatiable Critic kindly agreed to host my review, so I'll post an update and you all can duck over there when that goes up.  Liz is awesome.

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I wasted way too much time reading The AV Club's Silly Little Showbiz Book Club yesterday, (that is, before I realized it was by my arch-nemesis Nathan Rabin) but in reading Nathan Rabin hate on Chris Farley for being Catholic and tearing off melodramatic, angst-ridden prose like sheets of cheap toilet paper in the Taco Bell bathroom, I had a breakthrough of clarity and realized that my Creative NonFiction mentor Jaed Coffin had been right--snarky prose is for douchebags.

Rabin's style consists of, if I may borrow mentor Coffin's wise words, shitting all over everybody and everything.  He hates Catholics,  he hates people who don't know who Belle and Sebastian are, he hates everyone who isn't as smug or as darling or as bald as he is.

And I used to write much the same way.  I was better than everyone, smarter than everyone, smug and pretty to boot.  You can see it in some of the prose I have over on the sidelines there.  And even though I resented being called out on it the first time (figuring that he was just not as good/smart/smug/pretty as me) I realized later, especially listening to Jaed talk about respecting the stories and the people you're interviewing, that a guy we called "Brospringer" behind his back was actually right.  And he was not only right, he was a genius for bringing honesty and respect and not being a privilaged douchebag back to CNF.

When you're writing CNF, you are basically saying to the audience, "I have something important to tell you about myself.  My life is so important that you have to listen to me."  Whether you're writing about your parents dying or your drug addiction or going to the movies or listening to records, you are already being kind of a dick by expecting that peole care about what you have to say.  If you're good, like Kevin Murphy, you make your stunt into something universal, something all the readers can connect with.  If you're a dick, like, say, Dave Eggars, the audience is chained helplessly to their chairs, forced to listen to you scream in their face MY PARENTS DIED AND THAT MAKES ME SPECIAL!!!!!  I SHOULD BE ON MTV!!!!  LOOK AT ME!!!! 

It is my goal now, as I write this blog and as I write essays, to step away from the snark that gets me laughs and look at the subjects of my essays, whether they're myself or my ex-boyfriends or my wacky family, with the kind of respect that makes my readers say, "wow, she has rendered that in a way that I can relate to."  I'm just sick of being a jerk to my readers--they don't deserve to have all that negativity thrown at them.  I want to learn to tell them a multi-facited story so they can decide for themselves if my ex-boyfriend is a dope without having me screaming HE WAS A JUNKIE OTAKU LOSER, CAN'T YOU SEE THAT?!?

That isn't to say I won't still be snarky.  I'm not perfect.  I will probably still say sarcastic things about my mother and my ex-boyfriend and Nathan Rabin.  But my goal is no longer to be the smartest/smuggest/prettiest girl at the dance.  Mr. Rabin already has that covered.

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