“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me.”
― Kurt Cobain
Several years ago, in a season when the best-seller lists included more than the usual number of self-help books, a friend of mine joked that he was going to write one himself. His title: “How You Can Be Like Me.”
Lately I have been noticing more self-absorbed first-person writing on the internet and in newspaper op-ed sections. Often these pieces are written by young people in the throes of becoming full-grown adults.
The traditional rule in writing is, “Write what you know.” Many young writers mostly know about themselves, and so they write about coming-of-age moments that people over the age 30 remember from their own lives but don’t need to relive. Such writing dips a toe into and, at worst, submerges itself in navel-gazing banality.
(Yes, I’ve been there. Fortunately for me, my early self-referential scribblings never were published. And, yes, some may argue that too many of my later ones have been published. I can hear it.)
The real rule for writing is this: First go out into the world to learn about other people and their situations. Develop some perspective. THEN take to your keyboard.
There’s a website (which shall not be named) that dumps material into my email inbox every day. The website styles itself as a platform for several topics, including trivial, self-referential musings that are sincere but, to my eyes, unintentionally humorous.
In the last three weeks, I culled the following titles from that website. Naturally I plan to unsubscribe after I post this. Too much is enough.
Why Art Cures the Most Mysterious Disease of All
Art is more than a hobby. Art and creativity cure a problem that we all share at times — boredom. I’m not just talking about commercial…
Make people give a shit — without losing yourself
I’ve been blogging, starting businesses, designing, writing electronic music and playing punk rock for the past 10 years.
And the one thing… I’m sure about is that it’s tough to make anyone give a shit. It’s tough to make anyone care about the work that you do and why you do it.
We’re All Going to Be Lonely
Loneliness is a part of life, as natural as birth and death. Sooner or later, we all go through it. I’ve gotten used to my loneliness, and . . . .
Today I had to explain the concept of male privilege and it was profoundly disappointing.
I was talking to a person who, along with being a male programmer, is one of my best friends and someone I trust.
His confusion stemmed from two . . . . First, he didn’t think he’d . . . .
Be a bit f*cked up. People will like you for that
Let me tell you a story about a young man. He had a job he was good at, and he liked it. He earned a lot, though he wasn’t a millionaire — actually, he never wanted to become one, he knew that having more money won’t make him happier. His car of choice was new Audi SUV, he played squash to stay fit and travelled every other weekend.
By all means he had a successful career . . . .
I cried all day.
I cried walking to the subway. I cried on the subway. I cried when I got off the subway. I cried while giving a tourist directions to Chelsea Market; I think she may have asked me because maybe only true New Yorkers are comfortable crying in public here. I cried walking to work. I cried at work . . . .
I Read 3,000 Emails from 2016 Presidential Candidates and I Learned Nothing
Bombarded. Besieged. Tortured.
These are the three words that best describe the state of my gmail inbox since June 1, 2015. That was the day I began the The Presidential Email Project, in the hope that I might learn something about politics and the 2016 election from the high-minded discourse of the esteemed statespeople running for President of the United States . . . .
How to Be a Father
These instructions are for me. Your mileage may vary.
In some particular order:
You are officially no longer priority #1 or even #2. First rule about fatherhood is you never come first anymore. Them the breaks, breeder.
Baby first. Mommy second . . . .
How I try to stay balanced in a world I can’t always control
I want to be very clear with you. I am not a calm, placid lake. I know it’d be awesome if I was, but the truth is a million miles away.
Am I a pretty productive person? I’d like to think so. I get a lot done, and I write a lot, and I work hard, and every now and then I accomplish something. But being productive doesn’t put me on some . . . .
How I killed my art practice — then brought it back to life
I started painting regularly a little over four years ago. My depression and anxiety disorders had spun out of control, and in addition to . . . .
You make a choice. One way or the other.
It’s hard to get any kind of direction in your life if you’re waiting for a path to appear in front of you. I wasted a lot of time trying to look for what I was somehow “meant” to be doing, as if there’d be some kind of a cosmic sign.
This is something people ask me quite regularly. How did I know what I wanted to be and what I wanted to do? How did I know the right road to walk down? The general theme of it tends to be, how did I know what my destiny was? . . . .
I don’t know what my IQ is — and I don’t care
Honestly, I don’t. I’ve never been tested, I’ve never wanted to know. The topic doesn’t interest me in the slightest, and I can’t think of any situation in which knowing it would be of any use to me . . . .
The writing I have described is by no means the exclusive province of young people. Here is another article I encountered on the same website in recent weeks.
Nothing can prepare you for finding your first gray pubic hair. Honestly, how can you prepare for something you’ve convinced yourself will never happen?
If I hadn’t been so tired, I would’ve . . . .