President, Joey Zeitgeist, Industries
A lot of writers I know like to write about themselves, even when it’s fiction. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s pretty much following that most basic tenet of the craft: write what you know.
In my own fiction, I didn’t adhere to that particular rule. After my first book, I stopped writing fiction in the first person entirely. Of course, every story you write is somehow an x-ray of yourself, even if not overtly. But I was assiduously trying to look outside myself, which wound up producing somber stories largely about dreadful things happening to decent people (who weren’t me). Little tales about individuals off the beaten path that not much of the public read, but nonetheless managed to win a number of awards.
Then, a few years ago, something dreadful happened to me—I went without REM sleep for 339 days—and ever since, I can’t seem to stop writing about myself. Some of that no doubt is a healing mechanism for the trauma I went though. The rest mostly derives from not wanting anybody else to have to endure a similar fate.
In the process of rediscovering the first person, I seemed to have tripped over the zeitgeist. Several strands of it, actually—or perhaps, more correctly, I find myself at the intersection of three busy streets. Apparently, a lot of other people have trouble sleeping and, just like me, many are prescribed powerful and addictive drugs under physician supervision. Or they try yoga as an answer, as I did as well.
Suddenly, I’m au courant. Nike is investing 100 million dollars this year to men into the yoga studio at the same time I serendipitously have a funny, instructional book coming out entitled Yoga for the Inflexible Male. When I began writing a medical memoir about my amazing sleepless jag, My Year of Sleeping Dangerously, I had no idea America was suffering from a sleep crisis as well or a withering benzodiazepine addiction problem mirroring my experience either, which I’ve written about, too.
Very strange. In a weird way I feel popular. Or that there are a lot of people out there like me. I sometimes wonder if trading the third person for the first person has somehow turned me into another person entirely. Probably not. I suspect this is just a phase I’m going through. My wife tells me I still forget to put the cap back on the toothpaste tube after I’m done using it.