Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Writer's Double Self
"I am sensible of a certain doubleness by which I can stand as remote from myself as from another. However intense my experience, I am conscious of the presence and criticism of a part of me, which, as it were, is not a part of me, but spectator, sharing no experience, but taking note of it; and that is no more I than it is you."
Most of the students in the class are in the same writing program that I am in, but there are a couple of non-writers in the class, and one of the non-writers asked if all writers feel that way. The question was tossed around a bit among the writer-types, and then the discussion moved on to other things.
But I sat there remembering myself as a 4-year-old on the beach in Morro Bay. I can picture this so vividly. I was there with my brother, my mother, and one of her friends. We were on the small beach near the intake vents for the PG&E power plant. I was walking along the beach, looking at small stones and shells, talking to myself, and what I was saying was a third-person narration of my actions. "She looked at that rock, and then she walked over closer to the water, and then..." Or something like that. I have a conscious memory of many such narrations that I spoke--aloud or in my head--as I went through childhood. My mother overheard me and asked what I was saying, and I had no idea how to explain it to her--I just knew that it was something I liked to do. But I couldn't articulate that at 4, so I just shrugged my shoulders and kept walking along by myself, talking inside my head.
I don't know if all writers have that sense of double self, but I know that I do, at least some of the time.