Behind the Scenes: It’s Not You, It’s Brie

Before I set out to write “It’s Not You, It’s Brie,” I tried to think of ways to not only improve my writing, but to also produce content. I’ve gotten stuck on the last few short stories I’ve started and I wanted to try something different.

I began thinking about how a lot of visual artists (illustrators, painters, etc.) will often do self-portraits. There is also that well-known adage “write what you know.” So I combined those two ideas and somehow ended up with “It’s Not You, It’s Brie.”

It’s probably the weirdest piece I’ve written — assuming we don’t include that erotic Narnia fan-fiction I wrote in middle school (that’s not even a joke. I still have it — maybe I’ll post it here someday 😅). Despite that fact, it came to me very easily and I wrote the entire first draft in one sitting. Which was awesome, because I was in a hella rut before that.

I tried to make the character of Brie as real as I am, which ended up feeling very strange. I tried to be self-reflective and honest and interact with thoughts that I have on a regular basis. I’ve been doing freelancing recently (and barely getting paid for it), so the overall topic came easily.

I am also notorious for either being very distracted when I’m doing something, or hyperfixating on a task and ignoring everything else around me. Because of this, I’ve overbrewed my fair share of tea. While the exact sequence of events in the piece did not actually happen, all of the events have happened to me at various times.

Cat on the keyboard? ✔️

Almost sent a really rude and snarky email? ✔️

Ruined two cups of tea back-to-back? ✔️ ✔️

Interestingly enough, while I was writing the piece, the character of Brie kind of separated from my actual self. I started to think of her as an integral part of “It’s Not You, It’s Brie” and not as just a reflection of myself. When I’m writing any kind of personal essay, that never happens. It always feels very obviously like I’m writing about my self and about experiences I’ve had.

I also got the chance to interact with the Reddit user who took my favorite cat picture because of this story. While I also found out the cat eventually died (😭😭😭), I was still excited to interact with her owner, because she kind of felt like an internet celebrity to me for a while. /u/AEIFFIE was nice enough to give me permission to feature the picture with the story when I finished it and that kind of makes it for me, despite how weird and self-centered the contents feel.

“It’s Not You, It’s Brie” isn’t anything that I’m going to push for publication, but it was something I enjoyed writing. It’s also weird and hopefully kind of funny. And for people that know me, I hope I’ve managed to capture some element of myself in it. Let me know if I did!

And if you don’t know me, I still hope you enjoy it and maybe we can at least commiserate about how much invoices and low-freelancer pay sucks. I still feel like I’ve gotten out of my rut (I was also able to finish “The Tower” pretty recently as well), so I’ll chalk it up to a win.

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