Stripped Bare

striptease sur scene
Originally uploaded by _boris.

There can be something wholly seductive about writing. It can be so for the writer as well as the reader.

On the writing side, you are often unsure as to where your story will go. For example, this post, can at any time, veer away from my honest intention. I am in a constant state of anticipation and determination — desiring a certain word or direction but also perilously close to letting my ideas take a new, random way. Yet when I began this post, I knew where I wanted it to go … I just don’t yet know how to get there.

The writers I admire are brave beyond measure. They write with a ferocity that seers my eyes. They tell me the truths that others would keep secret. And they share the preciousness of their world in ways that invite us all in. Some of these writers are aware of the striptease that they invite us into; others work into it, becoming aware over time; and a final group play at striptease but become too self-conscious and laugh it off. But make no mistake. There is both art and desire in all these forms.

Though I am sure he would be horrified at the suggestion, Russell Davies is a master of striptease. His ideas flirt outrageously with the front row readers of his blog, hinting at something richer, more intense and just slightly out of reach. Suddenly, with a glance to the left, another thought careers across our line of vision and we are caught watching, gaping, panting. How does he do it? How does he sustain it?

Just take a look at his long work-in-progress posts on upcoming presentations. Watch how he starts slowly, drawing us in with provocation, gentle prodding and (what is that?) a purr … there are images, juxtapositions, finely arrayed graphics and a clever smile. But at the end, we find we get MORE than we bargained for … because for Russell, it is not just the tease, it is the full strip. He willingly pares down his ideas in front of our eyes. He shows the steps necessary to make it work. He shares, generously, the experience and ingenuity that has made him a leader in his field. And he does this with good grace.

This week, Russell’s openness and community spirit was put on trial. He was stripped bare at a time and in a way that was not of his own choosing. The nakedness hurt. But it didn’t stop him posting his reaction to it. And while I understand needing to hide for a while, I hope that he is soon back … feather boas and all.

Update: I forgot that my friend, Marcus Brown, is very angry about this. And with good reason … especially if these sorts of attacks become yet another way of censoring the ideas and collaborative efforts of others.

10 thoughts on “Stripped Bare

  1. Gavin, I really appreciate this post about what it means to open ourselves in such a public way. I clicked over to your links, read about what happened to Russell, and was appalled that he should provide fodder for someone to hurt. Our best writing is done, I believe, without censoring ourselves, without considering whether we are exposing ourselves too much or possibly offending someone who doesn’t agree with us, and the very act of doing our best writing is what leaves us so open to being, as Russell calls it, “slagged.” Thanks for writing about this. It makes me want to be even more open in my own blog, just to thumb my nose at people who don’t play well with others.

  2. I’m really curious to know what exactly he was talking about, or what was said about him. I guess that’s sort of the nature of the business, though, and we should be prepared for attacks, be they personal or otherwise, and be able to handle them gracefully. Russell’s seems to be doing so…

  3. Unfortunately Paul you are right. It is part of the nature of the business — and it helps to have thick skin.
    In Australia, this is called the “tall poppy syndrome” … once your head pops up above the rest of the crowd it gets lopped off. Don’t think I will ever face that problem 😉 … but the thing about blogging is that it does eventually reach a wide audience — and that visibility and profile can take some getting used to. I guess Russell didn’t realise what a big fish he is in this blogging pond.

  4. Gavin,
    I really like your take on this. There are risks and rewards to “baring all”. Whenever I share something, a little voice in the back of my mind says “you know, this could be used against you one day”—but I do it anyway.
    I think I approach blogging the same way I ride a motorbike. I know it’s dangerous—but I do it anyway with some degree of responsibility. I’m different for riding. While most everyone out there is protected by their automobiles—I’m riding along exposed and can be taken out in a moment.
    But I still do it because to me it’s freedom. It makes my heart beat a little faster and soothes my soul. Blogging in many ways isn’t so different. We put ourselves out there while others enjoy the safety of their anomonymity.
    But we also enjoy the freedom to express ourselves, to feel the joys of community.
    I was saddened by what Russell described and how it made him feel. But also know that when we ride, it’s best to throw on that leather jacket. That way in the unfortunate event that we have to put our motorbilkes down—at least we can minimize the road rash.
    And thanks for all the sharing you do Gavin.

  5. Genius how you have worked the striptease in with real purpose. I suppose that is what we do. We just have to be careful that in feeling the pressure of upping the ante that we don’t lose our selves.

  6. I also wonder exactly what the nature of the attack was–I wish he had linked to that blogger, but it had obviously upset Russell to an extent that he probably didn’t want to even look at it again.
    It seems like sooner or later we encounter hecklers on our blogs. You know, someone shows up and is at odds with what we’re saying. As bloggers who are all into the open dialogue with our audiences, we encourage the dissent within the comments of our own blogs.
    But it’s quite a different thing to find that there are people ridiculing you outside of your blog.
    If they disagree with you on your own blog, then you’ve got a lively discussion going, but if you find out that you’re being parodied on someone else’s blog, presumably behind your back, then it’s a sucker punch. You’re essentially stripped bare, not among friends who support your disclosures, but before a harsh and critical group that is not your own.
    I can understand why Russell was shaken, but I hope that he can brush it off and return to blogging as usual.

  7. Gavin, my friend, this is an excellent post and you mention some of my favorite writers too. Paul is a gifted kid with a huge mouth and even bigger ideas. That’s a beautifully lethal combination and I enjoy reading his rants when something gets his attention.
    I really feel for Russell. It sounds pretty painful and uncomfortable. I too hope that he’ll be back… and soon.
    I enjoyed the metaphor of striptease. It is so very accurate. We do strip away so many layers of ourselves in our writings- if we choose to. I know that I enjoy reading writers who “bare it all”. Like you a great job of that delicate dance as well.
    Thank you for this post.

  8. Hi Gavin,
    I’m a bit late on this one… Never thought about comparing writing to striptease. Excellent!
    Ideas float around and are indeed originaly separated from words. Trying to find the most appropriate way to describe / write about them is indeed a delicate exercise.
    I like what you said, as it pretty much perfectly patches what I feel when I write :
    – “…desiring a certain word or direction but also perilously close to letting my ideas take a new, random way. Yet when I began this post, I knew where I wanted it to go … I just don’t yet know how to get there” – That’s it!
    Also agree about Russell’s way to share ideas. It is brilliant, stimulating and full of insights.
    And honestly, I never thought one of my stories could be mentioned that way. Thank you for this great post! : )

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