I’m not going to write my second-person essay in the second person versus you’re not going to write your second-person essay in the second person. You tell yourself you’ll change it later. You’ll get a first draft done this way, because it’s easy, it feels right, flows better like this. Then I’ll change it back. She’ll change it back. You will. Or maybe no one will.
Recently it seems I can’t write anything that isn’t second person. It has caught my voice and won’t relinquish it; I begin everything with the gorgeous vagueness of you and then go back over it, painstakingly switching the you to she, or I, or whatever. And the fact that it could be whatever is what makes the you so alluring. You don’t have to make up your mind, or announce that you’ve made up your mind, with a you. It’s what writing can do that film cannot: introduce a character purely in terms of action, without giving them a face or body or gender. Even a bodiless voice-over in film has a gender. In writing, you can exist for pages, saying things, doing things, changing things, and nobody has any clue who you is. Sometimes that’s useful and sometimes it’s an easy way out of doing the hard work of creating character. Either way and both ways, I’m stuck on it. Read More