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Are you good in small doses or hard to really know?

Not dead, just annoying

Oh, hey! I’m not dead. I am still writing. I’ve just only been writing book-related things. Which is to say, I haven’t been posting on the internet. Why? Because internet writing feels like self-promotion, and self-promotion makes me feel ~revolting~.

That said, I do have book-related things that I will be talking about soon, so it occurred to me I should probably spruce up my internet presence. If you’ve followed my career for a while, you’ll know that instead of posting useful content about my writing, I mostly just draw stick figures. So I sat down to create some useful content today and instead drew, yes, stick figures. You are probably thinking, “Aha, Laura, these self-destructive tendencies are not very good, are they?” To which I would say:

Self-promotion makes me uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable, unfortunately, makes me weird. I don’t mean “quiet.” I don’t mean “awkward.” I mean weird.

At no time do I feel more uncomfortable than when I am asked to talk about my books. But if self-promotion makes me uncomfortable, writing, conversely, makes me hugely comfortable. I just sit there, drinking my coffee, tippity tapping away on my little keyboard. And because I am so comfortable when I’m Author Laura, Author Laura is allowed to be serious. Author Laura, in fact, would love to be taken seriously. She has THOUGHTS and FEELINGS and wants to be KNOWN.

So you see my conundrum.

Author Laura wants to be taken seriously. Promotional Laura does not want to be taken seriously. What I’m saying is, inside me are two wolves. One is Beowulf. The other is a stick figure.

Last year, I read this Paris Review article by Sophie Haigney (which I found via Haley Nahman) about a game Haigney calls “Dichotomies.” It starts with the premise, “There are only two types of people in the world.” Then you offer two categories. Thunder or lightning? Boring or annoying? Moss or lichen? Babe or darling? Hiya or howdy? I find this sorting immensely satisfying. I love it when my friends and I respond with conviction that we are the same (“We are both so annoying!”) or tease out some difference that feels profound (“We complement each other because you hold a grudge but I stay naïve”).

The dichotomy I find myself returning to most often is, “Are you good in small doses or hard to really know?” I feel, in my bones, that I am good in small doses. I’m not mysterious or elusive. I am loud and vulnerable, like an upside-down turtle with a megaphone.

I think this is why I write, but also why I’m so uncomfortable with self-promotion. If one really wanted to be mysterious and elusive, one probably would not write feelingsy books. I read feelingsy books because I want to know that other people have had big feelings, and then I write feelingsy books because I believe the existence of such books will offer some comfort to someone somewhere (and/or because I want my internal landscape to be known). But I am uneasy asking someone to actually engage with what I’ve written for fear that they think I am too much.

It’s funny, that I would be afraid of this, because when framed within the confines of a dichotomy, I feel a sense of pride at my too muchness. I would rather be good in small doses than hard to really know. Maybe that’s what’s so appealing about the Dichotomies game: Not that it celebrates the qualities you’re proud of, but that it foregrounds the qualities you’re afraid of and turns them into a community. No one wants to be told they are annoying. But it’s immensely satisfying to have a friend turn to you and say, “We are both—so—annoying.”

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