Saturday, June 24, 2006

taming the dangerous animal

No, the dangerous animal isn't a bunny. Unless it's on the set of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I just sketched it out and enjoyed its childlike appeal, so it gets tacked into the post.

For years now, I've wanted to write a book. I always get so far and then something stops me. I can never write the ending.

Most of us don't ever live in a beginning or an ending is why; we're always somewhere in the middle. I kind of like that about life. Even when painting or writing entirely out of my imagination, I still can't seem to close doors. There has to be that room for possibility.

Dreams need air to breathe.

I can't write entirely about what I've lived, though the life I've lived has been interesting, at least, it's been interesting to me. I learned in middle school when some girls stole my English journal and shared it with the rest of the class that using words is a dangerous venture.

You may mean well when you write, but people will still misunderstand, even deliberately misconstrue your original intent. It's what makes precision so important, and so wearisome. The agonizing caution over each inflection, tone, implication, connotation: it's constipating. And even that is not enough. People can still hate it or be hurt (which is worse!) despite your best efforts to the contrary. So part of you has to be invulnerable and even a little careless. And that's a tightrope I've never found balance upon.

I know what I want to say but I'm never sure how to go about saying it. I feel sometimes (as I struggle over the latest manuscript) like a translator instead of a writer. I'm taking one string of thought and parsing it into something else entirely.

So then something is lost and the voice seems a little less honest.

It's best when I just sit down and write and it comes out and I don't think about it too much. But then I read over it when I'm finished and I'm swept away in a rush of emotions: it's strong, but it's also (in places) very sad and quite a lot darker than the lighter prisms I cast on Perspectacles.

Which is not quite the effect I sought. But the story keeps telling itself anyway, with the desperate urgency of a big dog on a tie-out yanking impatiently toward freedom until the spike in the ground is uprooted and the dog runs away, chain and spike clattering behind messily.

Truth is a dangerous animal.

Example: When my heart got broken for the first time, I acted so....muted. I didn't fight back, or rail against it, or cry or even argue. I went home and sat up staring at the wall feeling so mixed and furious and still I couldn't even force a tear to fall; it was as if everything inside me just sort of...stopped. I might as well have walked out into oncoming traffic; I just let myself go ahead and be demolished.

How I disparaged myself for that, even while it was happening and I went on watching it happening, like an eyewitness to an automotive accident or a house fire. Detached, even. Emotionless.

(Where was my sensitivity and my careful eye for observation then, I asked myself? First crisis forced to a point and all my empathy and kindness disappears. I just turn cold and indifferent, apparently, even to myself.)

My sensitivities reappeared in odd manifestations: I'd take a sip of water from a thin blue goblet and suddenly be acutely aware of the cold remove of the glass. I'd bite down on the glass suddenly, impulsively, willing it to break and shatter in my mouth so I could bleed and start feeling something, anything other than this numb emptiness.

No, I wasn't well.
But I didn't know anything about anything, back then. The glass never broke. I just kept pushing doggedly on until my senses slowly, gradually, regained most of their function.

The reason I admit this is because the story I am writing now is the story I wish I'd had around to read, when all that was happening. Truths and dangers, moments of kindnesses that spur a person on.

How we don't ever get beginnings or endings; how it's always the middle we're in no matter where we happen to be at, and most of all, the truth, or what's seemed to be my training: as long as there's air to breathe, there's still a possibility, always possibility and something maybe better than what came before.

So, back to the manuscript.