It’s what makes The Catcher in the Rye so good: a teenager can so clearly see the inauthenticity in everyone around him. I realized today, when looking up the spelling, that phoniness is also a big part of my novel. Who are you if you’re born in a place you should not have been born? What if someone else made the mistake – how do you fix it?

I’m a phony when I go to a bar and I dance and my arms don’t know what to do. I’m a phony when I stand in front of a classroom and talk about historical events (or current ones!) I’m a phony when I put exclamation marks in my text messages and when I wear a small bikini on the beach and when I drive with my arm hanging out the window.

Phoniness is everything that feels wrong but you find yourself doing because we’re monkeys and we mimic. A good formula to stop being a phony is to close your eyes and start dancing.

My dad loves a quote by Thoreau:

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

I like that. Your music could be so far away that you haven’t heard it yet, but somewhere out there it’s playing. Maybe you have to go back to where you came from or maybe you have to find the place where you are going, and it is there that the music will be playing.


(Photo of Walden Pond in the fall, taken from