I’m almost positive I meant that whole getting used to being naked in public thing as a metaphor, but. . . Oh, well. Guess I’ll know better next time. Or at least remember what I was talking about from one post to the next.
So. Where were we?
Getting Naked In Public
I don’t mean that I actually want you to get naked in public. (Ah-HA! It was a metaphor. I knew it.) What I meant was that, if you’re going to become adept at memoiring your life, you’re going to have to get used to the idea that you’ll be talking about parts of your life — often some of the darkest or most embarrassing — that most sane people would do almost anything to keep secret.
You, on the other hand, are going to go looking for just such an incident, peering back into the depths of your mind and look yourself straight in the eye, take that embarrassing incident, huff on it a bit, polish it with your sleeve and then start showing it to anyone who will stop long enough to read. Those lucky readers will get to learn all about the time when you were six and you tried to tiptoe into your parents’ bedroom on Christmas Eve and accidentally saw the (to you) lifesize T-Rex skeleton you wanted more than anything else in the world glowing in the dark, especially the teeth with the glowy thing. And you screamed and screamed until your parents woke up, came to calm you down and say all the right things. But then kept laughing at you about it for the next forty-five years.*
And, in some cases, it’s going to involve sex. I’m sure (engaging sarcasm filters) none of you have ever had an embarrassing incident revolving around sex or love or unrequited love (disengaging sarcasm filter), but there could be some amongst your friends who might relate.
Makes You Want To Hide In A Tiny Space
Those things that make most people want to curl up and hide until the heat death of the universe just in case someone actually knew what you did last summer? You’re going to be digging around in the dustier bits of your brain, searching for those exact things so you can use them as the basis for a good memoir.
This is what I mean by getting used to being naked in public. Nothing to do with clothing at all.
Did you know that being naked in public is one of the most pervasive fears amongst American adults? (It’s not No. 1. Snakes are No. 1 for some reason.) However, being naked in public is a profound fear of most American adults. I think this is because being naked removes any sort of protection between you and the world.
The world can see you for exactly who you are. It can see your flaws and it can see your imperfections and it’s judging you. Or at least you think it is.
There is a difference, though, between nude and naked. At least there is in my own personal dictionary. Nude means you have no clothing on. There’s nothing salacious about it, nothing provocative. (As an example, dig into Discovery Channel’s misnamed Naked and Afraid “reality” show. It should be Nude and Afraid, but I’m guessing naked sounds better.) You simply are nude.
Naked, on the other hand, means that you are wearing no clothes and you might as well be transparent for all the good it does you to try and hide your secrets. Your personality and your thoughts all are on display for anyone who wants to look. If you’re like most people, you’ll do just about anything to avoid being naked if you can help it.
The Right Attitude
The difference is all in the attitude. If you’re going to be nude, you simply have to believe it’s no big deal. You might have something you want to show the world, something similar to what they have but different enough that it might make for a good story. Naked is being featured on an hour-long TMZ special and finding out the sleazebags have seeded your bathroom and bedroom with hidden cameras.
We didn’t start out afraid to be naked, you know. How many of you have ever had the joyous experience of trying to chase down a gleefully naked child sprinting for anywhere but where their clothing is? If you’ve been near a child, you’ve also been near a naked child. That’s just the way it is.
As we grow up, though, we begin to accumulate secrets. . . We begin to notice we’re different from other people and, because we’re human, assume that means we’re worse off than everyone else. . . We begin to wonder what’s wrong with us. . . And we begin to make a conscious effort to never let anyone (except under very special circumstances) see us naked and certainly not with the overhead lights on.
Wishing I Were A Nicer Person
At this point, a nicer person would suggest that he only is suggesting you get metaphorically nude to begin your excursion into memoir. I am not that nicer person.
If you want to succeed as a memoirist, you’re going to need to get naked. And what’s more, you’re going to need a spotlight pointed right at the dodgier bits of yourself. And you’re going to do it without feeling badly about yourself or even getting (eyes right) depressed over the whole thing.
Until next time, friends, when we’ll be discussing just what the heck I’ve been babbling about for the previous near-thousand words and what it has to do with writing. Promise.
And that’s the naked truth. (Come on, did you really think I’d be able to make it through this sort of post and not make that kind of pun?)
*While this is an oddly specific example of an embarrassing incident, the management would like to assure you it was completely made up and does not represent the real experiences of any actual person living, dead, or witting at a typewriter right this minute.