In a cathartic moment immediately after finishing Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal, by Jeanette Winterson, I realized today that there has been one consistent element missing from my writing, especially about the accident. Except in my poetry.... there I can use imagery to bring out the feelings, the torment, the anguish, even the happiness and comfort. I had many, many self-realizations and moments of complete emotional clarity, simultaneously not feeling alone, - though I was with what some people would call just a book (there's really no such thing as "just a book") - while reading this emotional masterpiece that reads like the smoothest poetry and embedded with emotional horror and self-understanding. JW made me see that the thing missing, and I'm sure you'll agree if you go back and read/reread previous entries, is showing my reader the emotion. Not just saying, it was scary or I was sad, but reinventing that emotion to bring you as close to me at that moment and humanly possible without physically being there.
I also realized that the past is the present is the future and that you can move any of those nouns to change the progression of time and the sentiment remains the same. I've learned that we don't have a right to happiness, we have the right to the pursuit of happiness and these are by no means even close to meaning the same thing. We believe we have this right because our forefathers said so. Happiness, like all emotions, are fleeting and, especially good feelings, don't last long. The pursuit of happiness is forever. We have the right, as Americans, to pursue happiness our entire lives.
When I heard JW read in Boston Friday night, it changed my life, my self-appreciation, and hopefully my writing (for the better) and success as a human being. She made a comment that at one point in her life she was suicidal. It didn't work, thankfully. She decided then that she was sick of living half a life. She also said, "...life is trauma..." and when I met her to sign my book I had to thank her for that. I've been living half a life for a long time, especially the last 6 years. I don't feel good every day. I don't want to get out of my PJ's most days. Most days I want to sleep, and if I can't I immediately turn on the tv and plop down on the couch. The ass imprint where I sit is bigger than I'd like it to be, if I'm going to leave an ass imprint on anything, and it's still there when I get out of bed after 12 hours, or sometimes 3 days. This isn't working for me. I can't live half of a life anymore. And I especially cannot continue to not write, not try to get published. Maybe the talent is so much here in my blog, it'll come. I'm a poet, and poet's are a very different breed than a literary writer (notice the stress on literary).
I found last week that novels are probably not the way for me to go, as well. There are so many rad short versions of writing -- I'd never considered an essay before, but I don't want to always write with a setting, developed characters, plot, climax, etc. I like to write about what's twirling around in my brain, or maybe it's my soul? There's also flash fiction and experimental, and so many other things I can write. The intimidation of the length of a novel has steered me clear for 20 years. Yes, 20. I wrote my first poem at the age of like 4, and my short story won some kind of award in elementary school. People have always told me I should write. They're right, I should. I just shouldn't be writing what I do (other than poetry) the way I do (even some of my poetry).
I'm dedicating this year (between now and the next AWP, March 2014, Seattle baby!) to learning about my craft, taking at least one writer's retreat, blogging here twice a week (bare with me at first, kids) and starting my writer's blog. I do regret a bit that that changes my business plans for this year, working on designing and creating and starting a fashion biz, but writing is my first passion, the first thing I remember learning how to do is read, and I'll never be able to keep the rad phrases from popping into my head.
thanks for reading, all comments welcome