Being invisible

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Are you invisible? Does anyone see you? In Mystery men, Kel Mitchel says, “Hey dad, I’m going to my room with three strange men,” and the dad says nothing. We know why he has chosen invisibility as his secret power. He is invisible to his father and so he might as well be invisible to everyone.

Being invisible can be a blessing. Let’s say for example you have a teaching job. For the most part, it’s best to be invisible as the people who run academic institutions tend toward a rather dim view of creative types. Being invisible in many jobs is a good thing. Being invisible can have its advantages.

Most of us have someone we wish would “see us.” In the writing world, those people are called the gatekeepers. Most people are seen but for something they don’t want to be their main identity. I have a friend who is a very successful therapist and is only now being known as a writer. Another friend is a YA writer who is now becoming more known as a poet. Even the very famous Dana Gioia is often referred to as a critic and the former Chair of the NEA. But he would rather be known as a poet. How are you known and how would you like to be known?

My friend Nicelle for example, probably feels she isn’t visible enough, but she is quite visible. She has read at venues all over Los Angeles, with Ron Carlson at the Players Club in New York; she’s reading with Gregory Orr and me at Poets House in the fall. She’s read at Seminary Coop in Chicago. When I was her age, I would have been quite happy to be as visible as she is now. I think she is doing fantastic.

Wondering whether you are visible at any given time and to the right people is absolutely pointless and can only send you round in circles when you should be moving forward.

If you start saying, most people think I’m just someone working at Red Hen and not as a writer, you’ll make yourself crazy. Who cares? Or worse yet, you just start concerning yourself with who actually sees you as a person and who can’t see you at all when none of that actually matters.

What you are supposed to focus on is very simple: Your work and your life which means sustaining the people you love and your own writing life.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re seen or not, what matters is your work. So keep writing that novel!

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Published in: on June 2, 2014 at 7:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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