Complexity and likability….The Fine Line Between Sellable and Sellout
Some of our best friends are leaving the country soon…..for good. She was my teaching colleague and friend for almost 8 years. He, her husband, was also a teacher and photographer. For reasons too exhausting, unjust and frankly not anyone’s business, he’s given up his residence visa…he’s Welsh. I try not to think about it much because it’s depressing and saddens me to no end.
N’s the most balanced and serene woman I know. She’s passionate in that quiet, rock like way that radiates in waves and anchors the people around her. She has the brilliant talent of being straightforward in such a kind manner that folks don’t realize she’s cutting through their bullshit.
She’s likable without being phony. There’s zero pretense in her despite the cool and level way she handles things. She’s sellable without being a sellout.
Needless to say, I’m not that person. In the first place, my genetics completely negate any serenity I may have. The anecdotal evidence of the crazy, Apache blood rage that exists in every single woman in the Montoya line is undeniable. Ask our husbands. Sprinkle in a dash of crazy Aztec Mexican heritage and it’s the nitroglycerin of passionate emotions. I have a little French/Danish from my paternal lineage, but I’m pretty certain it’s from the Norse Berserkers and does little to help matters. N gets that. She understands that I’m the warrior you want in your corner. My straightforward, no-nonsense demeanor isn’t judgment. It isn’t hostile….most of the time. It’s a strident defense of right, justice and just plain common sense. N has the talent of saying the exact same thing I do in a way that the squeamish, wishy-washy folk hear. I say wishy-washy folk to describe those people…and there are a lot of them…who can’t or don’t really want the truth.
I spent ten years in a marriage completely based on lies. I was convinced I was insane and that the hold on reality that I had must be flawed. This was systematic behavior modification designed to keep me down, weak, unsure. Thank goodness for that crazy Apache/Aztec/Mexican viking warrior blood. It allowed me to break out. Once you understand that you indeed know reality and Truth, you’re reluctant to go back. I have no problems with honest evaluation, as long as it’s HONEST. I’ve dealt with, worked with and maneuvered around people who are intimidated by my force, my presence. I’m not inherently likable. I know that. I’m funny. I’m a mesmerizing storyteller. I’m one heck of an entertaining teacher. For the general population, however, my brand of straightforward is like scotch…..scotch drinkers love the nose, the smoke, the peat, and the hints of coffee or vanilla, or for me, the port….Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, oh my! Most folks, especially women, don’t really like scotch….it bites.
It’s one of the reasons I can count my friends on two hands . They get me. They know when to blow me off and they know if they really want an honest opinion, I’ll give it to them….even if they might not like it. I’ll also walk through fire for my family and friends….I’ll defend them. Kill their enemies and tilt at windmills if they need me. N knows that. She values it. She sees me.
G is like me. Straightforward, no nonsense and buggered if he’ll white wash your bullshit. We understand each other. I can forgive him is unnatural abhorrence of pets….mostly because it’s hilarious to see his acrobatic retreat from our cats. We’re both competitive and motivated. We both like to win, though I dare say I might be on the more graceful side of defeat….except in Super Mario Bros. Don’t sit within arms length of me while we’re playing SMB….particularly if you’re Son 2 and delight in throwing your compatriots of off the ledge.
I adore these two people. I changed the brand of toilet paper I buy for these two people. I understand that N’s family is devastated. They have a two year old and a newborn. I know that they have legions of other friends who feel exactly the same way I do. My sadness is born from the place that knows that I’m complex and amazing, but complex and amazing is frequently not sellable. I’m hollow thinking about the loss of these friends because I don’t have many. I’m a tough sell, but worth every bit of the effort. One of the reasons we’re publishing the book ourselves is because we were tired of the “Where would you sell this book in the bookstore?” “If you could tweak this a bit, I think I could sell it.” “You’re a compelling writer, but I’m not sure if I could sell it.” One of the reasons I adore these two people is that they aren’t sellouts. Sure N has a unique talent for leading people to compromise and reasonability, whereas I have a talent for rubbing people the wrong way, but both of my friends have a deep sense of social responsibility and justice.
I’d hoped that N’s likability would rub off on me. I want folks to read my books. I want folks to buy my books. Complexity is nuance, flavor and variety….and sellable. I know that I’m not really losing them. Technology today provides multiple opportunities to stay in contact. Next year, I’ll have two more books out and perhaps a UK book tour in the works. The immediacy of face to face contact is what I’m losing, what we’re all losing…those of us who will watch this family depart.
I’m not certain how this all plays out for any of us. I do know that I embrace my complexity. I’m not boring. I’ll work on my likability because I do look forward to folks reading and enjoying my books. Sellable…..my writing, the stories I tell and the passion I infuse them with will prove out. Sellout……hmmmm……I guess I’d need to see the offer to really know. In the meantime, I wish my friends a grand adventure and hang on to the idea that things work out as they are meant to be. N will remain graceful and balanced. G will still be straightforward and motivated. They’re both battered, bruised and though unfortunate in the manner, wiser. I’ll stalk their Facebook pages and blog. I hope they’ll keep up with my blog, the books and my Facebook. I’ll look forward to any opportunity to see them, especially a trip to France. There’s no nice and tidy ending…..as a writer I bristle at that. Not the nice and tidy part, some times things aren’t tidy….have you seen my house? I suppose I’ll be glad there isn’t closure here. Complexity…..some times it’s tough.