Sunday, February 12, 2006

Wit & Ego

Off the Shelf:

Folk of the Air by Peter S. Beagle

Sia's Post

I spent a golden morning in the park with my dog, and then came home and began working with my partner, choosing images for the lecture on Ephesus. The scanner just broke - poor, thing, we use it a lot - and the middle keys on the laptop aren't working, either. Time for a coffee break.

I surfed over to Vox (1) just now and deleted the link to this blog. I found that I was beginning to check my "stats" every day to see how many people were reading it. Not good.

If I start caring about how many people read it, (and, being Vox, they were sending them over in the thousands) then I might start writing these posts to get more and more readers. At that point, I write for approval or, worse yet, I might begin pandering for traffic. I know me well enough to know that I'd stop being honest. I might begin to feel that I need to write every day, even when I have nothing to say. I might write down some sexy Pagan gossip I know (and should not share) to keep their interest. In other words, I would be tap dancing to keep their affection. Very bad.

It's better for my work here if I let these notes be erratic and plain spoken, (some might say "dull") so that the essays I write later will (I hope) avoid all that. It's better to have the odd friend check in now and again if they so choose....or not. Better to let the Hoi Poli skip this blog entirely and read those public blogs of note. I've added a link to one or two public blogs I admire, and I'll add more as I find them. (I just got a note from Fritz about that. We're both addicted to reading the WildHunt Blog; young Jason is going places.)

An acquaintance once asked me why I write under my Craft Name when I'm so out and about as a Pagan in real life. The way they asked the question made it apparent they thought I was hiding something. I told them that I valued my privacy, which is all the truth they would have understood and that I cared to share.

The core truth safely nesting at the center of that statement (the one protected by the "truthieness" in my terse, deflective response) is that I am most concerned to protect my work from my own ego.

When I write as Sia, I have no concerns for what anyone thinks of me as a person. I don't need anyone's approval or applause. Their criticism can't hurt me. More importantly, their criticism can be taken in calmly, used as needed, and then heeded or tossed aside depending on it's worth. I can't do that under my given name and I've learned not to try. What counts is the quality of the work I do, not recognition.

The joy is in the writing, and in reading the writing of others. Rick Moody knows this. Here is a essay of his from The Joy of Reading Series over at NPR. It contains this lovely quote:

"I believe in the absolute and unlimited liberty of reading."

damn right.

As a writer I'm very much like the actor Dustin Hoffman plays in "Tootsie" who realizes that his persona "Dorothy" is actually a lot smarter than he is. The more he lives as Dorothy, the better he gets along with others, because Dorothy is forceful without being combative and tactful without being weak. I feel the same way about "Sia"; she's a much better person than I am in many ways, not least of which because she never forgets that someones soul might be listening.

People always ask me where I got such a beautiful Craft name. If I like them, I say it's because I steal from the best. The name belongs to the lead character in Peter S. Beagle's book The Folk of the Air. If they have read the book, (now sadly and undeservedly out of print) they will see that I'm poking fun at myself. If they haven't, well, I don't intend to explain.

Don't get me wrong, I admire people who can be themselves in public and who use their own names when they write. That's just not how my dysfunctional head works. Publicity is very bad for me. It's always been that way. This then, is my solution.

Speaking of publicity, a friend of mine in England is about to encounter a great deal of it soon, more than even he is used to. I'm not worried. My friend is one of those people who already has wealth and fame and the recognition of his peers, and he has always kept his head (and his manners), and he always will. I wrote this to him today:

The minute the Great Eye perceives you, Aragorn, you will be famous in a way you haven't ever been before. It's a form you haven't tasted yet, and you've had a pretty darn big plate of famous. I don't think that anyone can ever be ready for this. Even so, my money's on you.

I'm told that no one who hasn't gone through our media's form of laser tag can really know what it's like. I heard stories (back in the day) but these came from people who'd been through it all in a mostly medicated state and were just starting to grasp what had happened to them. Among your many skills is the fact that you know a great deal about this beast already, and can stand it's glare stone sober :-) Go get 'em, Tiger.

He'll do fine. And I get to watch.

Well enough of that. I'd better get back to work. I may be able to get these tools fixed in time to do the fancy lecture I envision using the images projected on a large screen via the laptop or it may be time for Plan B which involves giving a more informal talk using photos, books and post cards; rather like showing pictures of your vacation to friends in your living room. This is a problem only for my ego. (That again!)

I like technology and would have enjoyed doing a slide lecture in a dark room using these pictures in a large and dramatic format; something which would elicit gasps and coos. My Inner Teacher just loves that stuff. Oh, well. The pictures are great no matter how they are shown. So, the question becomes: just how many people are going to show up to a lecture on Ephesus at 9 o'clock in the morning, the Sunday after a Saturday night at PantheaCon, hummmmm? (3)


Since I can expect a smaller crowd - if anyone - it won't hurt us to pass a few pictures back and forth. I'll even bring in a few donuts to make it worth their while :-)


1. Aha! I see that Snakemoon has once again made the cover again with her article "I'm A Pagan, Ask Me About My Sex Holiday!" Good. She wrote that one for our newsletter last year, and after much discussion and fine tuning we published it in January. I usually have to nag her to publish later at Vox (she gets busy and forgets). This time I sent the link directly to Dio, their Editor, so she could read it, and hassle Snakemoon for me. As I thought, Dio was very eager to have it, and they featured it as the lead article, which was smart. It should be very popular.

I see she kept the Dorothy Sayers quote I gave her. Even better.

I'm encouraging Snake to someday publish a book of her collected essays. I will keep on her about that. At this rate, she'll be ready to publish in about a year.

2. Always have a Plan B, C and D. Sacrifice to the Gods of Chaos, and learn how to laugh at yourself.

3. It's easy to get a prime lecture spot at PantheaCon. Just do a lecture on sex. Or offer a panel on "What's wrong with X". So it goes.

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