Monday, February 13, 2012
You Aren't What You Write, Part 2
Jason Diamond wrote a piece called "The Barista's Curse" that was published in the New York Times last week. Poor Jason Diamond. He used to be a barista. (Boo!) Now he is a Real, Published Writer. (Hooray!) But he keeps running into people who knew him as a barista, and they are disappointed that he isn't making cappuccinos anymore. (Boo!) Stupid people! Don't you know that Jason Diamond has DREAMS?!
Jason Diamond wants everyone to know that he isn't a barista anymore. (He has been published in the Paris Review! Well, on their website.) Here is the crux of his challenge: "I’ve had to explain to a dozen former customers that, no, I was not a professional barista, that, in fact, I was freelance writing the entire time. True I had worked at Think Coffee, at Joe, at Jack’s in the West Village, at Kudo Beans (which became The Bean and then became a Starbucks) and at both of the Union Square Starbucks. In total, I held jobs at nine different Manhattan coffee shops and three Brooklyn ones. But I had bigger dreams all those afternoons I worked the steam wands and milk pitchers. I’m not just some guy who once poured coffee into your paper cup."
Jason Diamond has two problems: 1. He doesn't understand that, by definition, he WAS a professional barista, and 2. He doesn't realize that NOBODY is "just some guy who once poured coffee into your paper cup." Jason Diamond wants us all to know that he was *different* and *better than* the other baristas because he had "bigger dreams" than the others. And those "bigger dreams" were dreams of being a Published Writer.
But who cares? (Aside from Jason Diamond, I mean.) We are all always more than the pieces that make up our identity. To my mother, I will always be a little girl. To my classmates in high school, I will always be a nerd. To people at the Red Bird Mall in Dallas, Texas, I'll always be someone who worked at Naturalizer Shoe Store. And all those things are reality--small pieces of reality.
Being a Published Author can mean a million things. But it doesn't make you any more important than a barista. It means you do something well enough to get published. Good for you. But it's just a job. Your dog doesn't care. People who love you will be happy for you, but they won't love you *more* because of it. Please remember that. It's the only way to keep the ego out of your writing. And your ego is your enemy--it holds the Demons of Fear and Pride in its grasp, and those things will eat your writing alive. Let go the ego. The writing is the writing. You are you. This--writing--is just something you are doing. You are also breathing. Which is more important?