On being full of one’s self

Earlier today, I got an e-mail from Cheryl Anne Gardner of POD People. I queried their site a while ago in the hope that they might review Entrekin. I figured they were just so backed up with books and reviews that they hadn’t had the chance to respond, which I understood; authors, self-published or otherwise, always hope for reviews of their books and so always query reviewers to do so, and I’d wager a book reviewers pile of books to read is similar in size, scope, range, and even quality, to editors’ and agents’ slushpiles. But the good news is that Gardner wrote me to let me know that she was going to review it probably shortly.

Which I’m just thrilled by.

So look for that soon.

I bring it up, though, because part of the reason Cheryl wrote was what occurred on the occassion of my first ever review. It was at the PODler (you can find a link in the archives here. Sorry, but I’d rather not link there myself; it only just fell from number 1 Google result, and I’d rather not put it back up there), and it was the sort of excellent for which a word like “glowing” is an understatement (“This is the writing of bestsellers.” So rad), and it was a thrillingly and overwhelmingly positive experience until a handful of anonymous commenters showed up to attack me.

Not my writing. Not my book. Me.

The most prevalent was the one I mentioned yesterday: “I won’t argue that Entrekin is a great writer,” which then went on to comment that I was “full of” myself.

I mentioned it yesterday and that I was happy it no longer came up as the first Google hit because can you just imagine an agent being intrigued by my query enough to hit Google only to find that as the first hit? I’d wager their first thought would be that I’m some prima donna author who thinks I’m the heir apparent to Stephen King and Jo Rowling and will become resentful when others don’t bow before my literary genius.

To which I say, in my best Wayne impression, shyaah!, not to mention: not!

Because seriously. I mean, what do you say to that? “Quite frankly, I resent the implication that I am full of myself. In fact, I am half-empty of myself, because I am a pessimist, and to fill the rest I seek meaningless sex, excessive alcohol, and the adoration of a whole bunch of people whom I will probably never meet except via the Internet (unless they come to an author signing).”

It’s kind of like being called defensive; if you defend yourself . . .

It’s probably silly to worry about, but I’ll admit it: I’m now past thirty and still worry about what other people think of me. I keep hoping that I’ll outgrow it someday, but someday continues to elude me so far.

But here’s the thing about one being full of one’s self:

I once heard that the difference between Eastern philosophy and Western religion is that the Western mode seeks external validation: from God, from the church, salvation through Christ, etc., whereas Eastern philosophy looks, instead, inward–toward the self. Toward the soul.

And that appeals to me. Which leads me to wonder if, according to Eastern philosophies, being full of one’s self isn’t a good thing? Or, at least, a goal to pursue?

I don’t know either way, but I’ll be personal for a moment, in a way I’m not usually, to tell you a story.

I went to a Jesuit college where I studied, among other subjects, theology (that my professor was a Jesuit priest trained as a Zen roshi might be why Eastern philosophy appeals so much to me). During that time, I became comfortable in my role on campus, in my role as a student, and then again in my role in commercial production. I won’t say I thought I had things pretty well figured out, and I read now the words I wrote then and I inwardly cringe, but, in a way, I felt somewhat full, I think. I was, largely, satisfied with my life.

And then September 11th. Which, I think, both emptied me out and made the vessel with which I was working larger (which, in turn, made it more difficult to fill). Suddenly, what had made sense before no longer did, and four years passed before I could really claim happiness again. Four years passed before I can really claim I felt full again. Satisfied.

And I remember the moment it changed again, when I realized I wanted to go to graduate school. It didn’t empty again, just made my vessel grow again, and so I drove across the country to Los Angeles, and I studied writing, and I began, again, to fill it. My vessel hadn’t grown so much as to require much fill, and then I published my book, and that helped it grow yet again.

And so I feel like the past few years have been a constant challenge of a growing vessel which I seek again and again to fill with my self. Each time my vessel grows, I seek new experiences, or new ways of seeing old ones, so that I can grow and fill it again.

It’s a challenge I have to admit I enjoy.

Full of myself? Sometimes, maybe. Perhaps. But when I’m really lucky there’s a little more room in the vessel yet to be filled, and the challenge of looking inward to do so is simultaneously one of the most difficult and most rewarding.

“I awake from a long, deep sleep
In a leaky little boat on a wide blue sea
I spy no islane, rock or shore
And the sea, she’s a-comin’ to me through a hole in the floor

And the tide come in and the tide go out
And the waves they came toss my little boat about
And the sky turn black and the sky turn blue
I got no pail, no sail, no anchor, too
Just a leaky little boat

And as I wake I look around
I have no notion where I’m bound
So many different colored boats I see
Are all leaky, lonely, and driftin’
Just like me

And the tide come in and the tide go out…

I spy no island rock or shore
And the sea keeps a-comin’ to me through a hole in the floor
Of my leaky little boat

Alone, adrift together are we
Slowly sinkin’ in a deep blue sea
But we smile and we wave
And we say, “I’m afraid…and I love you…and here we go…”
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, “Leaky Little Boat”

(update: edited to paraphrase the anonymous quote in question, for Google-rific reasons)

15 thoughts on “On being full of one’s self

  1. GOTHAMGIRL

    “Because seriously. I mean, what do you say to that? “Quite frankly, I resent the implication that I am full of myself. In fact, I am half-empty of myself, because I am a pessimist, and to fill the rest I seek meaningless sex, excessive alcohol, and the adoration of a whole bunch of people whom I will probably never meet except via the Internet (unless they come to an author signing).””

    That’s NOT what you were on My space for????? Well, you should have made a blog explaining it then because I got three e-mails from people who thought I was your sister pretending not to be your sister. One of them at least has issues because she told me what she wanted to do to you and asked if you were into it. I’m gonna go into details but if I realy was your sister I would have been scared for life. Who asks a guys sister permission to do that stuff?

    Joking aside I think when people google you they will find this site which will be good… and those blogs of you where I put you in drag… Anyway you know what conclusion they will come to? “Wow, this guy isn’t even published yet and already he has fans, stalkers, and enemies!” or they simply won’t care. short of someone writing “Will Entrekin sunk the Titanic!” I don’t think there decision to publish your book or not publish your book (knock on wood) will be based at all on what some anonymous person’s insults said. It’s gonna be based on what they think you can do as a writer and what your book says to them.

    I think some times you can be proud but never overly so. You have pride the same reason anyone else would; accomplishments to be proud of.

    You do realise if your published they will expect either you or some one else to make a My Space page for you? I won’t put you in drag this time though. I don’t care how much you or your publisher begs for it. Not. Happening. Ever. Again.

  2. LISA

    “I once heard that the difference between Eastern philosophy and Western religion is that the Western mode seeks external validation: from God, from the church, salvation through Christ, etc., whereas Eastern philosophy looks, instead, inward–toward the self. Toward the soul.”

    I hope that eastern philosophy continues to grow into more and more western communities. I find it’s a much truer way of being. And I’m glad you got a bit personal with this. The way I see it is, I am my own God – I’ve always felt that way, like if there is a God; it’s inside me. It’s up to me to make myself happy, satisfied, etc. In my opinion, I’d rather believe in something I know, and to know me is more important than anything.

  3. WILL ENTREKIN

    @Gotham: ha! But no, that was one of the reasons I left MySpace; I feared my motivations weren’t clear. As for what my motivations, in fact, are: sharing my writing, pretty much. I don’t want anyone to adore me so much as the words, and I’m just putting those out there.

    @Lisa: I think we’re all reflections, or conduits, of God. I think we’re also mostly in agreement with slightly different interpretations of the same idea. Which is, I think, how it should be; faith is as individual as a tongue print, and I don’t think the way to holy is the same for any two people.

  4. FIBERKITTY

    Where the heck did the past three years go? Wow. I remember reading your blog before your trek across the US.

  5. WILL ENTREKIN

    @Fiber: I was going to correct you, because my trek was in May ’06, but then I remembered I started blogging in August ’05. So, once again, my readers are way smarter than I am, even when it comes to myself.

  6. FIBERKITTY

    We “met” at the Writers Who Don’t Suck group on Myspace. You critiqued one of my poems and then there was a huge battle of wits between you and and a guy who I don’t remember. He brought in some friends to say “yeah what he said” which prompted you to write me apologizing for thread-jacking or whatnot and ask if I would horribly mind a friend-request. I have an excellent memory for random knowledge and conversations (both written and spoken) but don’t ask me what I made for supper a week ago.

  7. SIMONE

    I really enjoyed reading your blog today. For some unknown reason it struck a chord with my own life and my ride on the “current” of life. Reminded me of a quote I once read:

    When the tides of life turn against you
    And the current upsets your boat
    Don’t waste those tears on what might have been
    Just lay on your back and float!
    ~Ed Norton – The Honeymooners

    You are who you are in life. Don’t let anybody into that space that say’s you’re not good enough, you are right where you should be right now! 😉

  8. WILL ENTREKIN

    @Simone: I’m glad, and I like that quote. Thanks for sharing it. And also: thanks for that reminder. Sometimes it’s really good to have, and one loses track of it, slightly.

  9. GOTHAMGIRL

    Well it deleated my comment first time around. Technology hates blondes. I’m gonna try not to make comments at 4 am. My comment above has more mistakes then what even I consider to be okay.

    You do realise that if Entrekin becomes a brand name like Stephen King you will be in the same boat you were in when you were on my space right? One day you will here Fox or Warner Brothers wants to make a film out of one of your books. You’ll be thrilled of course. They offer you a limo but you just got your Aston Martin V12 Vanquish and you don’t want to leave your baby home. They offer you coffee, tea, the blood of the inoccent (it’s Hollywood) but you pass. Your eager to hear their thoughts on it. You here what they have planned. You’ve seen the last two movie of the director they have lined up, one of his movies bomb but the other made all the tiny particles of your being experience a infinate amount of happiness, so your unsure. As your talking with one of the producers who have pushed this meeting forward you get the idea he might have you confused with another writer. You ask him a few questions that he should know since he plans to poor a few million dollars into the project he dosn’t know the answers which puzzle you. After a bit of chit chatter he confesses he hasn’t actually read any of your books, but he’s heard your name alot and didn’t want to let you get away to another companie. This guy dosn’t know what you write or care but he wants to turn one of your books into a movie?

  10. WILL ENTREKIN

    @Gotham: I’ll bet that happens more often than we know. Like when Brannagh remade Sleuth last year with Michael Caine and Jude Law; Harold Pinter adapted the play without having read the screenplay of the previous movie (and maybe even the play itself).

    Then again, I want the option for first crack at the script, anyway.

  11. GOTHAMGIRL

    @Will: I purposly made up something likely. My point was that you got out of a boat (my space) while trying to in the same boat (name branding). I mean if you were going to publish with a fake name and only went to book sighnings with a bag on your head I would get the whole “Quiting my space” thing. Unless of course you quit my space because you had the Merry Band of Stalkers and the Not-So Merry Band of Stalkers but not the means to hold them off where as a famous writer you would hopefully have the funds to repell them to a safe distance.

    I just don’t get rebelling over the small fame of my space while trying to obtain the fame of… real space. However, I may be in “look into it more deeply mode” and completely over analysing the situation. I’m gonna stop their…. yeah….

  12. WILL ENTREKIN

    @Gotham: I thought I had explained it before, but perhaps I meant to and never did–it really was a matter of a different audience. I really didn’t think that the majority of MySpace’s users were interested in my writing/books; I found it unlikely that anyone likely to be watching A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila would actively want my books on their bookshelves. Like, for instance, you don’t walk into a McDonald’s to hand out coupons for the local steakhouse, you know?

    Plus, there was the Rupert Murdoch/NewsCorp thing. If HarperCollins wants my book, I’ll sell it to them, but otherwise, I’d rather not be part of that machine, in pretty much any capacity.

  13. GOTHAMGIRL

    Yeah, you kinda skipped over the McDonals analogy. I always thought, though, that your blog attracted the only smart people (as well as a few nuts; both freindly and not, but still).

    I don’t get, though, how your trying to get away from one machine but seem at the same time to be making your own. Least that’s how it seems to me. I don’t know. I’ll just wait till you have succeeded. Maybe then I’ll get it. I think I’ve wasted too much of your time trying to get this explained to me.

    Just go here, kay? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmdCR6jkYjU


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