Friday, October 11, 2013

Smoke and Mirrors

About three years ago as my oldest child started high school, my life became much busier than I had thought possible. But having my first three children in three years put them close enough in age that the older they get, the more they are doing. I soon realized this busy life was my new normal. With this realization came the necessity to sacrifice certain expectations of myself like a clean house, or cooking magnificent culinary masterpieces for dinner. Instead I learned to do the bare the minimum to make it look good. Yes, that meant things get shoved in closets or under beds when we clean. Thus, I created my smoke and mirrors and kept up the appearance of being able to do it all. I was the great and powerful Oz with my mystical ways.

Well, this week my brother moved in with us. He is staying with us until he can find a job here and then get his own place. He has been very helpful around the house. He has been cooking dinner and cleaning up. Yesterday I came home to find him cleaning the kitchen. But not only was he cleaning the kitchen, he was moving all the small appliances and looking in the cabinets and finding a mess like I don't think he ever imagined. I suddenly felt like the curtain had been pulled open and revealed me as a fraud.

But as I allowed myself to think about how I felt about my brother learning this about me, I realized I wasn't embarrassed, neither did I feel guilty. I knew I have been doing my best and was giving my attention to the important things in my life, my children. So when I walked in and saw the mess I smiled at my brother and said, "Welcome to the family!" It was kind of nice to show him that I'm not perfect and I don't really care to be. After all, the wizard of Oz became even more interesting after we found out he was just a man.

I've been thinking about how this applies to writing. I first thought about marketing our books and ourselves. There are a lot of smoke and mirrors when we are marketing. We need to highlight the positives and accentuate the amazingness. But sometimes, it's good to show our fans and followers a little peek inside the curtain. Letting them see you as a normal person like them allows them to relate to you. Also, in our writing itself we create worlds and stories that we think people want. But we can't be afraid to reveal pieces of ourselves in our writing as well. We need to open the curtain and let our heart and soul creep onto the pages.

What other parallels can you draw from this analogy? What other ways do we create images from smoke and mirrors?


  1. This is great! Yeah, I don’t have any skeletons in my closet, but I do have piles of junk! I just finished reading “Anderson Cooper: Dispatches From the Edge”, a memoir written by Anderson Cooper about 2005 and about things that have happened in his life. As I read it I was really touched by how honest he was- he has a lot of demons, and he admitted that he doesn’t necessarily chase the news stories with the purpose of bringing the light of truth to the world- he said that often it was just because he felt so numb and he just wanted to feel something, anything, even if it was horror. It’s a great book, and it was refreshing to read because so often people in the media seem to want to paint this picture of themselves as one thing or another, and his was just the honest, sometimes ugly truth. Our flaws make us human, and when we expose our flaws it helps others better connect with us. Something important to remember. :-)

  2. That's so true. That book sounds amazing. I'll have to check it out.

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