January 21, 2005
How My Book Got the Better of Me
by David A. Zimmerman
Bless me, blogger, for I have sinned. It's been several weeks since my last confession . . .
I do look at Strangely Dim as a sort of confessional, in the sense that a confessional allows you to reflect on your missteps and try to calibrate your next steps. I was told once by a professor that the early church practiced open, communal confession until wealthy and influential Christians pushed for more privacy. At that point the church moved the sacrament of confession into booths, and confessing publicly became passé. Eventually, in the name of the "priesthood of all believers," some Christian movements abandoned the practice of confession altogether.
I have to say, I'm pretty comfortable with the idea of never confessing. I bawled like a baby when I made my first confession--and I've been a much badder boy since then. But on the other hand, we lose out on something precious when we decline to acknowledge--to ourselves, at least, but more urgently to God, and arguably just as urgently to the people in our lives--that we have sinned in our thoughts and in our deeds, in what we have done and what we have failed to do.
For example, since my book's release I've come to expect anyone who claims to care about me to read it, relish it, follow the links to all the supplemental stuff, and tell everyone they know about it. In my mind, Jesus has told his followers: "Go therefore into all nations and sell people of every tribe and tongue copies of Comic Book Character."
Since the book's release I've become unusually sensitive to the argument that comic books are lowbrow literature. Some of my defensiveness is understandable, of course, but I tend to take such an attitude as a personal affront, even though prior to and even since the book's release 99.999999999999999999999 percent of the earth's inhabitants had no idea that I exist.
Since the book's release I've exploited many of my relationships. I've sent free copies to a good number of people in hopes that (a) they'll tell everyone they know how awesome it is (and perhaps, by extension, how awesome I am) and (b) they'll invite me to speak at their events so I can look and feel like an expert, sell more books and shore up my apparently quite fragile self-image. I've actually, as part of the publication process, categorized the people in my life as either "influencers" or not so that I could make the most "strategic" use of a budgeted "influencer mailing." Some of the people on my list I don't even know; I simply know that they're "influential."
Since the book's release I've been distracted from my job, my wife, my parents, my siblings, my church, my friends, my hobbies, myself, my God. I've googled myself countless times, I've snuck a peek at all sorts of sales data that I ought not have access to, I've even forgotten to tend to my cats' litterbox--and trust me, after a few days that's almost impossible.
It feels good to give all this some air. Not that I've changed my habits at all, but at least I'm not hiding from the truth anymore. And really, once you've pranced around on film in a spandex body suit, hiding anything is pretty ridiculous.
Thanks. I feel better now. Buy my book.