Wednesday, July 4, 2012
I may be a writer, a memoirist, a blogger, even, but I'm not keen on the spotlight. I feel more whole writing about other people's books, other people's victories, other people's big moments, than I do writing about my own. (How not to sound smug? How to make it clear just how grateful I genuinely am? How to telegraph what is always true, that I recognize the transient nature not just of glory, but of life itself?)
But sometimes I'm interviewed, and sometimes I'm asked to observe, to comment on trends, to make predictions. I love those conversations, but I don't love me afterward. I worry that I have unduly generalized. I worry that I haven't been clear. I worry that, in a small clip of a long interview, I may sound unlike myself who, in conversational real life, spills out into tangents, identifies the exceptions to the rules, and broadcasts not just tolerance but curiosity. I worry about inadvertently spiking a topic with a dash of Beth controversy. I don't wear controversy well.
Let me state for the record, in case I goof, in case I become unclear. There is never a single best kind of book, a single best category, a single perfect specimen. In every genre and every sub-sub-genre, arfulness can and does exist. Do I wish that sentences—their quality, their shape—mattered more than they sometimes do? Yes, I do. Do I wish that millions of people were reading something other than Fifty Shades of Grey? Yes. Honestly. I do. Do I wish that I saw more people reading unexpected books on the train, on the subway, at the beach, that a greater variety of authors found their audiences, that fads didn't always rule? I wish that, too. Beyond that, however, I celebrate this fact: good, even great writers are at work in every genre.
The interviewee version of myself is still a work in progress.