So I was driving my mother to work yesterday, and started discussing something about other people’s descriptions of my writing that seems to crop up fairly often. It’s become obvious enough that I actually NOTICED it.
Me: A lot of people call it “wild.” But… I mean, it’s all deliberately crafted, right? Why is something that undergoes sixteen drafts still considered wild? I went to school for this. I write plenty of crap. I make a lot of mistakes. I try to fix it. How does that make the writing wild?
Sita: Face it. You’re wild. That’s cool.
Me: Well, I may be wild, but how does that make my writing wild? Anyway, I’m not sure I’m wild. I drive at exactly the speed limit. I follow the rules.
Sita: You have your own fashion. You don’t follow convention. You often don’t comb your hair. In some people’s view, that’s wild.
Me: All right, all right… So maybe my hygiene is questionable and I wear weird thrift store clothes and rhinestones. HOW DOES THAT TRANSLATE TO MY WRITING??? People who don’t even KNOW me call my writing wild. What am I doing that’s so WILD?
Sita: JUST OWN IT! YOU’RE WILD! YOUR WRITING IS WILD. MOTHER BEAR SAYS SO!
Me: FINE! I’LL BE WILD! I’LL BE WILD ‘CAUSE YOU SAID SO, MOTHER BEAR!
That was that.
The thought may still trouble me some, that I’m doing something I don’t know about and am not even trying to do that’s immediately recognizable to strangers–but at least the memory of my mother laughing at me and yelling at me is there to mitigate my troubles.
Sita does remind me of my ferocity sometimes. I have moods she calls my “Wolf Girl” moods, all bite and slash and rip. Maybe that comes through in the writing too. Maybe I am, like she says, passing some boundaries in writing I didn’t know existed, like beluga whales who don’t know which ocean they’re in because it’s all one ocean, or coyotes that don’t recognize property lines or that the farmer’s chickens aren’t theirs by right. I sure as heck can’t see it. And I actually think it’s dangerous to be so unconscious of my own medium. I think it’s important that I know what it is that I’m doing. Especially by the sixteenth draft!
But maybe that’s what other people are for. To tell you that you’re wild, and so is the work of your hands. You don’t necessarily have to believe them. After all, we all get to have our opinions. And then argue about them.