Thanks, Elizabeth Wurtzel, (and the Kind Delusion-Dispellers at New York Magazine) for Clarifying a Few Things for This Aspiring Writer
This is fun.
I get to join the ranks of the “infuriated bloggers,” according to the New York Post, as well as all the head-scratching dissectors in venues like Jezebel and many other smart writers such as Alyssa Rosenberg who I have discovered in my own web-searching bewilderment, wondering, is this for real? Is it April 1st? Is there a punch line in our future?
Ok, so Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation and a few other books like (she said it, not me) Bitch, wrote a “piece” for New York Magazine called “Elizabeth Wurztel Confronts Her One-Night Stand of a Life.” It’s a stunner. There are lots of people out there who are full of completely justified No she didn’t!!!!s such as her references to herself as “45 and in the physical shape of someone about half my age”and it’s easy because she just does 3 gyrotonic sessions (an expensive, one on one pilates-type thing: cha-ching) a week, her incessant name-dropping, and references to her “early success,” her money, her Harvard education, her not-otherwise-specified-self-aggrandizing, her reference to women who are supported by men as prostitutes, not to mention her very sad and lame and undeveloped, but I think emerging premise that she has frittered away her life, and she kind of stands by it and has contempt for people who haven’t because at least she is authentic (or something?). In her second-to-last final, build-up to the finale graf she writes:
But this is it for me. I am a free spirit. I do not know any other way to be. No one else seems to live as I do. In a world gone wrong, a pure heart is dangerous.
When seeking answers to how this could possibly be happening, such a truly poorly-written and strangely insulting (if it had legs) essay-ish thing published in NY Mag, which is not a literary firestorm by any means, but is what it is….in looking around, I found another piece that literally blew my mind, had me reading with my mouth wide open, called “Looking Better at 45 than 25.” Jezebel perfectly sums up the thesis of this one as: “Why Are You So Ugly, Dear Reader? It Makes Me (And Feminism) Very Sad.” Those J-girls are funny!
The craziest part, and this is getting to my point, is that in reading the Harper’s piece I was not only dumbfounded out again by what Ms. Wurtzel has to say about women and looks and herself (i.e. “When I look at the meticulous style of these women [Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin: huh?] and then walk around Manhattan—New York City, the international capital of fashion and beauty—and see women in their twenties who have already given up, my heart breaks. I am not a mean person, but the sloppiness angers me because it is about a wounded world.”), but I was more astonished, and, finally, delighted to see that not only is this woman spouting inane ridiculousness, but she is recycling her own writing, re-using lines verbatim from other publications that printed her work. Like when she is trying to establish her street-cred (in both articles) she explains how yes, she grew up in Manhattan, but wasn’t wealthy, reminding us it was a different NYC then; this was the time when “Zsa Zsa Gabor got mugged at gunpoint at the Waldorf.” One could do a quick little Freudian sketch of all the lines she repeated and it would not take long to discover some emergent patterns: she is obsessed with her appearance and a longing for glamor (thus the Zsa-Zsa theme; she wants to be Zsa Zsa) and trying desperately to appear otherwise. She is like a sad little fly caught in the exposing, sticky strip of her own narcissism. But I digress.
The real point here, for me, the wanna-be writer one who wonders why my stuff is just not catching on with editors, at NY mag and beyond: Well. I get it. If this is what you want, or more to the point, if this is the trip yall are on, I give up. Hooray!
This is not to sidestep the very real painful truth that A: It’s a hard-knock life, B: My work is very particular, C: Some folks just won’t like it. That’s all cool and ok to varying degrees depending on the day, time of month, etc.
But there are some things I just can’t control. Like the confusing insanity of publishing such drek. And the fact that I really don’t want to be part of that world because it’s sick and deluded.
As much as I envy Ms. Wurtzel for being able to write for the kind of money they way she does, I also am realizing more and more that I would rather be sane than selected. Both would be nice, sure. Whatever about Ms. Wurtzel’s heart. Clearly the editorial world is not of pure heart. Duh. What is? And what is a pure heart anyway?
I am not likely to get an assignment to share my answers to this compelling question, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop asking it.