Unpacking boxes that have been stored away during this transitional time—since relocating to
Sitting in the dusty loft of our carriage house among bins and unused furniture, paint buckets and window frames, I sifted through pages of writing that seemed vaguely familiar, yet didn’t connect with me in the usual way when I claim ownership, or have an emotive response to the recollection of certain memories.
Not only did these documents strike me as foreign, but the whole sense of the writing was superficial. I saw little of myself on the page, even knowing at one time I had poured my heart and soul into making this writing work. I could see the influences of my past, and in a way the whole thing disturbed me. Who was this woman? Not just the protagonist, but the woman who created her. What was she really trying to say? Who was she trying to be?
Perhaps, I was just suffering from what is described as, First Novel Syndrome—trying to write about everything at once, and managing to write about nothing at all.
Then, I looked at the comments below. Christ! Almost too much to bear, that I had of course, blocked out too (or didn’t want to own up to).
Overly sweet. Romanticized. Peeople don’t converse this way, or really see the world that way. But you can write.
I knew the critique wasn’t meant to be insulting, but it still hurt (even years later) knowing how another writer saw my writing as an extension of me—naïve, incapable of understanding true tension, or anything difficult (what drives us and makes us tick), maybe even a bit entitled, with sunshine blown up my ass, so all I can see was a chaste vision through my rose-colored glasses.
Looking through my old work, almost five years later, it occurs to me what I wished to convey to that peer all along. For all intents and purposes, I’m going to take a stab at it now:
You don’t know me, but I’m fueled by my fears. Seeing beauty in the world has been my way of dealing with all the pain and suffering I know truly exists. The hardest things I know, been exposed to and have experienced first-hand, are not the kinds of details I wish to relive for lurid minds to fetishize, to analyze, or pass on. Tapping into these places draws out old demons, and is like gutting the vulnerable underbelly of a fish. And isn’t that the sort of confessional writing—truth-telling, raw, gritty, disturbing—just another way of romanticizing human dysfunction? If I’m going to be a writer of truth, I must throw out my longings for a contrived world—fiction was once my safehouse from the illusions and terrors that really haunt me, it was my escape and place of finding forgiveness, and it was my hope for imagining something better.
Writing is my version of making love to the world. Because no matter how much pain I feel inside, words give me the means to profess my unconditional devotion to being alive.
There was a time when I couldn’t get out of my own way, or even imagine surviving until older age. I’ve been destructive and fair. For years, I lived in heat and was a fool for the moment, never wishing to record it. Now, I rack my brain for that something real that seems just out of reach—the nuances that defined those amazing or scary moments and haphazardly defined me and my view of the world. The things I’ve said and done that I can’t take back, the unrequited and aimless wanderings of my youth.
So, I say to myself, “Self, give yourself permission. Say, fuck it. Here I am. Take it, or leave it. I don’t care. I believe what it’s about, and I’m not here to prove anything.”
The time has come to admit the things I see in the woodwork, and to unreservedly embark on that soul’s journey, wielding my fear shamelessly.