I have been thinking about this article since a friend shared it with me, a month or more back now. It's a wonderful piece, in its own delightfully twisted way, and has provoked a fair amount of internet discussion. The article describes the imaginary-but-all-too-real "Todd Manly-Krauss," a writer who uses social media to write smugly and blithely and self-servingly about even the least of his achievements--with a nauseating undercurrent of tone-deaf gender insensitivity.
Here's my standpoint--and it's a strongly visceral one. My toes literally curl in revulsion when I read anything, in the real world, in the style of Todd Manly-Krauss (hereafter TMK!). And not least--when I'm reading something I have written myself, or am even just reviewing an idea in my head, and my inner ear alarmedly senses that first beat of TMK intonation.
The truth is not something that pleases me. Because the truth is this: My fear of the TMK tone has stalled me out, and indeed inhibited my work, many, many more times than TMK writing has actually been a sin in which I've overindulged.
And that's the element that has led me to loathe dear old (imaginary!) Todd Manly-Krauss so obsessively this past month.
I'm not alone in my TMK fears. One person commented on Rebecca Makkai's article: "It’s the authorial equivalent of the Christmas card letter that talks about the family’s perfect year." Point taken. But this very real, fierce dislike of TMK--it feeds and spawns that wretched, powerful TMK fear.
And what, really, is so bad about getting a poorly written Christmas letter? I'd rather get a sheaf of Christmas letters--some poorly written, some good--than not get any mail at Christmas. I don't want my friends to turn the letter task into a process so lengthy, so weighted, so significant, that the letter would just absorb too much energy to actually complete, so--I never hear from them.
The same goes, somewhat differently expressed, for the writers whose blogs I enjoy. Don't get me wrong. Most of the author's logs I enjoy have a high proportion of really great posts. But they also have dopey ones too, ones I can recognize that the writers concerned are not expecting me to take too seriously.
TMK fear: it's just another hydra-head of the paralysis-perfectionist impulse.
Todd Manly-Krauss! Oh how I hate him!