“Come see the red bird, Mom!”

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First, to the news: I’m pleased to announce that Girl Runner is going to Greece! The book has been picked up for translation by Thines Editions. This brings the foreign sales of Girl Runner to eleven languages, plus the US and the UK & Australia. I know. Astonishing, huh.

Every once in awhile it comes to me: thousands of people have read Girl Runner. Thousands of people have taken into their minds this story shaped by my mind. That is a staggering thought, and comes close to fulfilling what I’d hoped to achieve, in thinking back on my early years of hoping to become a writer. It was to be read. Those people who’ve read Girl Runner aren’t thinking about me, Carrie Snyder, they’re thinking about her, Aganetha Smart.

I think that gives me a certain amount of flexibility too, in terms of the choices I intend to make in my career, the projects I intend to pursue, their variety. I see myself as someone who can shape-shift to some degree, with a malleable voice, rather than someone who has a very distinctive style and voice and subject. I can use that in positive ways rather than seeing it as a weakness, but it’s a talent more readily used by someone who doesn’t have a big personal public profile. These stories come from me, but they aren’t me. Or more precisely, I am not them. I am just the mediator, in a sense, or perhaps the medium, the interpreter between worlds.

Ultimately, I’d like to be read because I send out into the world interesting, creative, curious, insightful, moving, maybe even life-giving stories.

It’s a lot to ask. Because it means I want my writing to be excellent. It puts the weight on the writing, and is my writing good enough? Is my thinking deep enough? I don’t honestly know.

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For the purposes of achieving this goal, I’m challenging myself to direct attention and energy onto the books that I write, and to otherwise be at peace with my authentic, ordinary self when asked to appear in public. It’s my problem, not anyone else’s, is what I’m getting around to—I’m the one who has been dissatisfied, in the past, with my public performance or persona, always thinking that I should be more charismatic, more out there, more … well, more not myself. Recently, I’ve been trying to let go. And I’ve found myself surprisingly content with being adequate, average, competent at the jobs that are not within my main area of expertise. I’m not splendid or charismatic on stage, but what I can do is make people feel comfortable in the slightly awkward formal environment. My sense is that that’s something I’m able to offer, and that’s good enough. Forget trying to shine or, much worse, to outshine. It’s not who I am. I’m more of a cozy fire in the fireplace, a friendly candle on the table, a light in the window to show you the way home, here to make you feel comfortable in your environment.

So. Let go. Let go of chasing fame in any way, shape, or form. And keep writing for the writing in any way, shape, or form.

xo, Carrie

Travels with daughter
Unmarked moments

8 Comments

  1. In no way do I want to undercut your good thinking and process around being yourself–in no way at all–but I’ve heard you read and you have a lovely presence and a beautiful reading voice. Absolutely be yourself and deal with your own issues, but know that you are also a pleasure to listen to.

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    • Thank you, Susan! And I didn’t mean to suggest that I’m deficient at reading, etc., (and in fact, I really love the reading part of readings!), only that I tend to be hyper-critical of my own performances and by setting the bar a bit lower, even it means aiming for adequate, decent, not-half-bad, it somehow eases my mind and frees me to focus my energy on the writing rather than sweat the rest of it.

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  2. Your question, “Is my writing good enough?” reminds me of what C. S. Lewis says about originality. (Forgive the unreconstructed sexist language of the 1940’s!)

    “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” And, “No man who values originality will ever be original. But try to tell the truth as you see it, try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work’s sake, and what men call originality will come unsought.”

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    • This is wonderful. Thank you, John.

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  3. I read this, and found it insightful as always. Then I see the red bird again on my newsfeed. And go Wait! What about the red bird? So here I am reading it again. Oh. I kick myself a bit. I think that I am just like the ladies my friend heard leaving the Barnes exhibition of fine art in Toronto some years back. One says to the other, “But I didn’t see any barns.” Anyway. You are so great. Bye!

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    • Thanks, Heather! (Did you see the red bird?) 🙂

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  4. Hi Carrie,

    I have thought of you as holding a candle and of your writing as a light. You inspire me by attending to your craft, daily. I enjoy your honesty, your elegance, and your gentleness. xo Anne

    Reply
    • Anne, reading your comment yesterday felt like receiving a blessing. Thank you for taking time to reach out. I hope your writing practice is thriving. xo, Carrie

      Reply

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