Thursday, March 26, 2009

Me on YOU!

My most excellent friend, writer Donna George Storey, has been examining different aspects of the writing life in a kind of intime online writers' workshop and has focussed on the second-person narrative voice for the past few days.

I weighed in, having written a few stories from that POV -- one that is curiously almost universally maligned -- including a little tale entitled "The Lonely Onanista," which has enjoyed some success despite the fact that it uses a voice one is supposed to avoid at all costs.

I said that in my mind the YOU of second-person placed any prospective reader right in the "driver's seat" -- a good thing! They'd just land there from above, in position -- sitting, knees bent, hands up with fingers curled as if already gripping the steering wheel -- like in old television commercials. (Or am I making that part up?)

I go into some detail about the background of the story and why I chose that particular voice to tell it.

Check it out, you!

And thank YOU, Donna, for giving us more food for thought!

Thank YOU, Erobintica, for the video inspiration!


T. Elle Harrison said...

I love writing using the second person. I think it gives the story a sense of urgency; puts it in the now, now, time register in a way that first person or third person cannot.

Donna said...

No, thank you! It's always a pleasure to host the Onanista.

EllaRegina said...

Hi, Elle! Well, of course I agree with everything you said. ;-) What I'd like to know is where this POV got such a bad reputation in the first place? I think we need a 2nd-person March or an activist group.

Oh, Donna, you are so ever-giving! My cup runneth over, truly! And I appreciate your thoughtful analysis of these writerly issues. They are very enriching and refreshing.

T. Elle Harrison said...

I think it's because it's hard to maintain. At least for me it is. Sometimes it can feel a bit contrived if you don't do it right.

Neve Black said...

Excellent, as usual!

Great insight on this POV perspective, little chica. :-)

Erobintica said...

Youuuuuuuuu send me

T. Elle Harrison said...

My word, Sam Cooke sends me...

Jeremy Edwards said...

"Me on YOU!" is sooo perfect a headline for this!

I think we need a 2nd-person March or an activist group.

"Our campaign for second-person erotica cannot succeed without YOU."

EllaRegina said...

I'm back!

Hi again, Elle! I don't have any useful advice on this other than to sort of put yourself in a trance. That's how it felt writing this story. Also, for whatever reason, I guess this voice comes naturally to me. This is not to say that every second-person story I write is completely successful. And, some people (readers, whoever they may be) are just dead against it.

Hi, Neve! Thank you! Again, I don't know that I have any special insight per se. I can just try to give an honest analysis of how it happened that I used this voice and what it signifies to me in terms of writing.

Hello, Miss Erobintica! Oh, such nice words! Thank you. And what a great video. Hmmn. I think I shall embed it in the post!!!

Yeah, Elle, he was good, that Sam Cooke! See, he knew all about you!

Hiya, Jeremy! Thank you! The original title was "I talk about YOU!" but then I thought this was funnier and had a sexual double entendre so up it went. Thank God Blogger keeps the URL of the original post even if you change the title (the URL includes the title). Otherwise there would be complete havoc, I swear! Yeah, let's start handing out leaflets. We need YOU! could be an alternate slogan but people might think they're being enlisted into some sort of army. An army of second-person erotica writers! ;-)

Emerald said...

I liked what you said at SFW about speaking paradoxically to one certain person even though you were writing in a public medium. It made perfect sense to me. :)

Sorry I was late reading this, btw. Behind on my blog reading the last couple days!

EllaRegina said...

Hi, Emerald!

I'm glad what I said made sense! Yes, it's an interesting paradox.

I think also -- and this just came to mind now -- that one can use this "trick" of writing to one person as a way of making the whole idea of writing manageable.

Sometimes it can be paralyzing, while trying to write, if one starts envisioning an "audience" of readers and all the possible baggage that comes along; those kinds of things that detract from what one should be concentrating on -- the writing itself.

So, in this way, instead of getting on stage and speaking to an arena of people, you're focusing on "talking" to a single person. It helps with the writer's equivalent of stagefright.

Now I'm not sure if that made sense!

Emerald said...

"that one can use this "trick" of writing to one person as a way of making the whole idea of writing manageable."

Definitely. I was actually thinking after I posted it that that often seems to be the way one writes anyway, or an aim writers may take, in that we may want each reader to feel like we are speaking only to her/him.

Yep, that made sense to me too. ;)

Of course, sometimes it has seemed to me also that I wasn't writing for or to anyone at all — it was just coming from me. Each story/instance would be unique, it seems to me!