Monday, May 14, 2012

A New Platform, a New Vista, and the Terror of Defining Myself

I’m building my writer platform.  I suppose I should say I’m improving my writer platform according some guidelines I found in an email from Writer’s Market.  I should say right up front that I find this rather terrifying for at least a couple of reasons.  One, putting even a slice of my personal life in the way of the public makes me so nervous I feel like I’m going to puke.  Two, since I started writing fiction (and probably before) I’ve told myself that following someone’s formulaic approach to any artistic endeavor is the kiss of death.  This may be true in some aspects of making art, but it’s clear to me now that both of these aversions have been defensive.  If I’m going to be a writer whose work makes connections in the writing world, I’m going to need to start actively putting myself out there, and formulaic approaches are sometimes the best way to learn new things.

So, here I go.  I ask only that should anyone read this, please do not take anything I say too seriously.  I am painfully aware of the way words limit and reduce the truth to an abstraction, and I also like to blatantly make stuff up and am often sarcastic.  A good amount of fiction may find it’s way in here as a result, and in a way, it’s all a fiction once it’s put into words.

The first task in this approach to platform building is to define yourself.  I once met a girl at a party who asked me to do this, and as a guy who’d recently graduated from the University of Chicago and had started defining himself as an artist, I treated this question with eye-rolling disdain.  I didn’t actually roll my eyes, but I did laugh and immediately cut the legs out from under the question in typical U of C fashion.  It went something like this: If I start offering definitions, then you’ll start to get ideas in your head that will put me in a box, and those ideas won’t necessarily have anything to do with who I really am or what I’m likely to say or do.  I’d rather we forge ahead without too many preconceived notions.  Let’s start smaller, or better yet, let’s just get really drunk.

I later made fun of her (behind her back, of course) for asking this absurd question.  Obviously she’d touched a nerve, and in a way, I still feel there is something potentially pernicious about defining myself, but only if I take the definition too seriously or expect that anyone else will.  I think, in the end, I’ve long been afraid of making claims that I’ll have to live up to, feeling that if I don’t live up to them, I’ll find myself scorned, spurned, detested, abandoned, mocked, and alone.  In a word, I’ll find myself alone.

I found this platform building exercise on Robert Lee Brewer’s blog, My Name is Not Bob, and he went about defining himself by writing a list.  I hate lists, unless they are totally tongue and cheek, but I’m going to start off following his format anyway and see where this takes me.

Name (as used in byline): David Driscoll

Position: Self-employed fiction writer (indeed, another way to say unemployed), blogger (occasionally), editor (of work done by my writing acquaintances), occasional guest teacher, occasional guest lecturer

Skills: Fiction writing, poetry writing, meditation, yoga, self-inquiry

Social media platforms: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Blogger (others to follow)


Writing: Published in numerous literary magazines including: Mississippi Review, TriQuarterly, Eleven Eleven, Inkwell, Main Street Rag, P-Queue, and Backwards City Review.  Selected for inclusion in New Stories from the Midwest 2011 (Indiana University Press).  Runner up in the 2006 Whiskey Island Fiction Contest. 

Education: Master of Arts in the Humanities from the University of Chicago (2006).  French Language Diploma for Level Superior I at the Sorbonne (2001-2002).  Bachelor of Arts in Economics (with honors) from the University of Chicago (1999).  Completed the requirements for graduation in Law, Letters & Society at the University of Chicago though the school did not recognize double majors at the time (1999).  Dean’s list of distinguished students each academic quarter at the University of Chicago.

Athletics: Captain of the University of Chicago men’s soccer team (1998).  Team MVP and Offensive Player of the Year (1998).  Two-time UAA All-Conference Selection (1998, 1997).  Division III National Semi-Finalist (1996)

Interests: Writing, reading, meditation, yoga, family & friends, English Premier League soccer, movies, psychoanalysis

Who am I?:  I am neither my body nor my mind though most of the time I fall into the trap of thinking I am one or the other.  On a conventional level, I am a writer and a husband who is soon to be a father.  I own pets and plants.  I am a person who yearns for a sense of deeper connection and am finding it as I learn to let go of my fear.  Turns out the connection was there all along.

There.  I did it, and I did it with minimal amounts of sarcasm.  The above is in no way comprehensive, of course.  That would be impossible; all I mean to say is that I consciously left some stuff out.  I did it though.  Now onto my writing work.

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