Kryptonite: Part 2

by Cooper Young

Right! So, I said “tomorrow”, but as should be clear from my absence from both Twitter and here, I’ve been terribly unwell as of late. Like, for weeks. Trying to get back on the horse, but it’s not easy. Anyway, here goes.

Last week I posted a question: what is your least favorite writing topic in the world? Everyone has one. Some people can’t do sex.  Some can’t do graphic violence. Some can’t kill a major character (a reticence which I, who killed the protagonist 3 times in my first novel, will never understand). I knew a woman who couldn’t deal with a character being falsely accused of something.  Everyone has their thing, their kryptonite. It turns us from writers, scholars, or students into useless zombies staring blankly and somewhat terrified at our screens or pages, all hope lost.

Mine happens to be centered around a single word: I.

A friend (now sold with profile pic, Twitter account, and actual name accessories! :O ) is helping me write a pitch for Descent. As part of this, he asked me to cobble together a short bio, something around 400 words. Nothing huge.

This was, oh, a month or so ago. At least.

I remember having to do peer-reviews of essays in my 12th grade English class, college application essays, to be exact.  I ended up with one written by the guy who sat next to me.  Every sentence on the page started with the word “I”.  Every last one.  All I could think as I read it was “If someone forced me to write like this, my head would explode.  Hell, it feels kind of burny just looking at this.  How on earth did he manage this?”

My problem with it wasn’t that it was poorly written (though that didn’t help); it was that I could not imagine any human being comfortable making that many direct references to themselves. Something about it seems so…immodest. I don’t mean to say that it’s how egocentric people write; again, I can’t do it and I’m hardly the humble type. I merely mean that writing about myself, specifically when it comes to definition of real identity, is something staggeringly difficult for me because it makes me feel nervous, self-conscious, and exposed.  There’s something very naked about the word “I”.

Note: Strangely, this does not cause me any problems writing fiction in first person. “I” is fine, as long as that “I” refers to Halai Bareth or Cassandra Azariel or whoever else.

Am I crazy here, or does anyone else have this issue?