Doug Cornett is a writer and teacher living in Portland, Oregon. He enjoys books, ping pong, and watching the Cleveland Cavaliers. His work has appeared in Vestal Review, Superstition Review, Propeller Magazine, and elsewhere.
Gertrude Stein famously said, “I write for myself and strangers.” I write for many reasons. One of these is to become estranged from myself.
Often in daily life I intuit a firm sense of who I am, what I think, why I behave as I do. My motivations and desires seem transparent to my conscious will. My “I” is singular, intentional, tangible. Say, for example, that I’m hungry—I go to the freezer, open it, and grab some ice cream. Pretty straightforward, right? Sure, there are a few rare times when I open the fridge door and blank on what I wanted; how I even got there. “Senior moments” are coming a little early for me, maybe. But mostly my body and its desires seem to synch up in a way that leaves little room for existential questions, despite plenty of everyday qualms and frustrations.
Now writing is often a completely different story. I set down a few sentences and immediately things start getting hairy. Should a character be a blonde, brunette, or ginger? If she has an Afro, then what else might I be implying? Are these implications based on stereotypes or do they add depth to a character? Should I even