Shadow of the Groundhog # 2: Psychic Content

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Identification with the Work

By writing, publishing, and promoting Seen & Not Seen, I have stitched myself up. Every writer does this. (I would say every serious writer does this, but that seems a bit pompous.)

Tom DeLillo once wrote something politically incorrect about how writing is like having a deformed child dependent on you.[1]

Writers create an artifact that is an extension of their psychic being—of their soul. It is the child of their experience. If they publish, they send that part of them out into the world to represent who they are. Readers gain a sense of the writer by reading the work. If the writer promotes it, then he must stand by the work and allow it to represent him. He is identified with it.

But the child is not the man. The act of creating it (which is also an experience), of sending it out into the world, if done rightly, has already freed them of the energetic charge of the psychic content of that particular work.

To still be attached to one’s psychic content after discharging it is to miss the point of the experiment—or so it seems to me.

To be identified with it, even more so.

And yet, the book has my name on it. However much I try not to identify with it, the book is forever identified with me. Whatever anyone says about “it,” they are also saying about, and to, me—or so they think, and so it feels to me.

So then, sending the book into the world is potentially the completion of the dis-identification process. It allows me to erase the past, by first identifying it, then identifying with it (and being identified with it), and finally, by dis-identifying from it.

 

Owning ambivalence.

What I need to do is to own my ambivalence about “success.” To be consciously divided as I solicit the world’s attention, approval, and favor, rather than unconsciously divided.

This will significantly reduce my investment in the kind of responses I get.

A rejection—or even an “ignoral”—is only ever painful to one half of me. There is another half of me that has the opposite reaction—that is relieved. So maybe the relief and the pain can cancel each other out, leaving just enough room for honest and simple curiosity?

 

[1] I actually got this via David Foster Wallace, in interview: “The best metaphor I know of for being a fiction-writer in the middle of writing a long book is Don DeLillo’s Mao II, where he describes the book-in-progress as a kind of hideously damaged infant that follows the writer around, forever crawling after the writer (i.e. dragging itself across the floor of restaurants where the writer’s trying to eat, appearing at the foot of the bed first thing in the morning, etc.), hideously defective, hydrocephalic and noseless and flipper-armed and incontinent and retarded and dribbling cerebro-spinal fluid out of its mouth as it mewls and blurbles and cries out to the writer, wanting love, wanting the very thing its hideousness guarantees it’ll get: the writer’s complete attention.”

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If you would like to help this groundhog to see past his shadow and be ready for the Spring—not to continue repeating the same day over and over—you can help me promote the book/myself by liking it on Facebook, following me on Twitter and retweeting my tweets, commenting at this blog, telling your friends via whatever social media you use (and even old flesh and blood-style), and of course, pre-ordering the book (later).

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