For you, the dress code is casual.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On serial killers, writing, eight year olds, and Garfield.

This is cool.

As a kid, I once went for Halloween as Johnny Dillinger. The next year I used the same clothes, painted on a black mustache, bought a cane at Value Village, and went as Chaplin. I think I was 12 and 13, respectively.

I used to love mafia shit and true crime books and all that. Oh, man, I read sooooo many true crime books when I was a teen. One day, I read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, and for me the road stopped. True crime would never measure up to the stuff of that book, not ever. Except maybe Helter Skelter, which is pretty wicked, but still... In Cold Blood defined a turning point in literature. The non-fiction as a novel. Yep. Cool shit, Bob.

I've been wondering sometimes why I even write anymore. I... stop more than I start. You think I'm writing a lot, 'cos there's all this new shit all the time, but I feel like I'm not writing enough. 'Cos what's coming out ain't what's inside, you know? Incongruent. That's what it is. Impotent and incongruent.

Sigh. If you want an image, the light's slipping into the room from the hall, from behind me. My right leg is bent over my left knee, on a 90-degree angle. I've shimmied my seat all the way away from the computer and I'm leaning, stretched out, to type. And I wonder about the discomfort.

[Adjusting chair. Feet down. Sitting straight. Okay, I lied, but now I'm... there. Done. Erect, proper, even possible regal.]

Now I'm obsessed. I've raised the chair, I have moved the keyboard closer, and I have turned on my desk lamp. I have even put my Western Europe Lonely Planet guide under my monitor's pedestal. (Might as well get some use somewhere. Fat lot of travelling I'm doing.)

Why the fuss? Well, if I'm to tell you a story, then I require comfort.

I have no idea now why I write. I have a book called Why I Write and it's a whole bunch of killer authors telling why they write. I don't know why I write. I can't tell you it's for some profound reason, like a search for truth or something like that. I just do. I do, because if I didn't, life would be unbearable.

Every now and then I write about the six years of writer's block I had. Talk about a gaping chasm of heartbreak. Just six years of constantly being unable to say anything of value at all. I would have these rare moments when I would remember a time when I could write, a time when I had a notebook everywhere I went. I was that girl, that girl with the long hair and the glasses at the corner table in the cafe, the girl who looked at no one but saw everything. That was me. I was that girl.

And I would remember being that girl. It'd invariably be some late night on a beach somewhere where I'd be talking with a friend and some star or light or figment in the night would stop me cold, and the words that would tumble out would surprise me. I was that articulate? Since when?

And I'd remember. And I'd long, and long, and long to be her again.

To say the thoughts that really emerged inside. To spill that into the open. Oh, the thought would send my heart crashing to the floor like a falling elevator. I have never, ever wanted anything as much as I then wanted to write.

Just under two years ago, I started this blog. 22 months. It started as an exercise to see if I could rediscover writing. I was just getting over my accident injuries, and I was on crutches. At the time, my beloved friend GayBoy was consistently letting me down to the point where I considered ditching him as a friend, because I needed help, being on crutches and living on the fourth floor of a walk-up, and not owning a car. GayBoy was never around. When I finally confronted him, I learned about his relationship's demise and how he fell off the face of the earth for a bit. I forgave him and here we are, but during all that time, most of my friends disappeared. I preoccupied myself with blogging on my new iBOOK, which I bought so I could no longer have the excuse of not having a reliable computer to write on.

Blogging became my life. I never got any comments. I, for all I knew, had no readers. I wrote because writing was all I wanted to do for so fucking long. To write, perchance to understand.

Recently, I've felt creatively stuck. I'm writing non-fucking-stop in the attempt to jar my creativity. Nothing happens. Just nothing. No inspired moments. What the hell has happened? Dry.

I have avoided going onto anti-depressants because I feared they would compromise my creativity. Naturally, to combat that, I bought weed. I think the two have been a damaging cocktail, and I am not happy about it. I suspect I must not buy anymore dope for a long, long time. I will still smoke when it finds its way to me, but I think prolonged, repeated exposure is damaging to me now. That's a price I won't pay.

I sure as fuck will not let anything tamper with writing.

I would love nothing more than to make money from writing, but if I had to decide tomorrow whether I could either write without earning money from it and just being comfortable for life like I am now, or be rich and never write... I'd choose the present. I think it unlikely anything else will ever bring me the sense of wholeness I get from the days when writing just comes together.

I was saying earlier that my confidence has just up and left me. Which is moronic. I deserve to feel like an intelligent, creative, competent, and even accomplished person. I've had some great life experiences, I've done lots of neat things, and for most of my years, I've really lived life. Professionally, I've had better days, but personally, I've really overcome a lot of adversity in my life, and when it comes to things like writing, I've been pretty good at promoting myself without trying very hard to do so, you know? I OUGHT to feel great about myself.

And soon I know I will be. I can feel it starting to gurgle. I'm just tired of not being me, and I'm at the point where I'm taking drastic and confident action in that regard.

So, I'm sitting around and thinking about what writing has meant to me in my life. And, you know, I have had times when I find a single piece of paper with something just heart-rippingly raw and true and so in the moment that it hurts, and it's just some fragment of an emotion I had to just put down. Sometimes it's a thought that made me laugh. Now and then it's an observation. Sometimes it's a good quote from a show. Like this one from West Wing I found recently from a few years back.
"I just found out I'm a Canadian," said Donna.
"Do you feel funnier?" asks Josh.
I'm remembering when I was eight years old and got off the airplane in Toronto and managed to totally lose the stewardess who was to accompany me to the baggage claim to meet my uncle, and there I was, eight, wandering Pearson International... until I found the stationery store. I bought a Garfield notepade (hey, it was 1981) and a Garfield pencil and some other pretty notepad, and all I had for my whole week was $35. I spent $8 on writing paper, and I was 8.

My uncle found me soon after and nearly died of relief. "Get this, Shirley," he told my mom on the phone later. "She spent a quarter of her money already on writing paper."

When I was in grade 5, I won a writing contest about why I wanted to see Pope John Paul II, and I won and got to sit in a special place for his mass, on the floor. I was elated. This was when I still wanted to be a nun.

And then there was my mother's eulogy. Wrote that, too. That was hard. But that's the very definition of the power writing has, isn't it? A well-delivered eulogy? With words you can convey the very greatness that was this person who's gone forever from this world. With words, I could make people understand the magnitude of my loss. I could spill for them the very stuff that composed my soul.

That, for me, was the height of what writing was. I've had a good deal of fun writing for the Cunt, and I love some of the stuff there, but some of my best shit, it's all here. This blog has a very special place in my heart. I sometimes hate the Cunt while loving it, because with it comes so very much pressure and so much demand. It's strange having a well-read blog. It's like a job. Here, I write because I want to. And sometimes that's all it really takes. Want.

So I'm upset that my writing has been less than par of late, but perhaps I've needed to turn the focus onto myself. I'm pleased with some of the things I've learned about myself in the last three or four days in particular. When I do stupid shit, like hurt other people, it really wakes me the fuck up to what I'm doing wrong. It's bad enough when I'm just harming myself, but when I offend or hurt other people, that's when it starts feeling kinda hardcore for me. That's when I know I need to change my game.

So, that was this week. I'd been coming near bottom for awhile, but it's nice to have hit it, and now I think I'm done. Through my writing I've made some pretty keen observations of the dichotomy that is my mindset these days, and now I just need time to pass so I can process and adapt to my observations, you know?

And through it all, I can keep writing. I tell you, when I feel I have the jump back in my writing, I will feel like I'm coming back to myself. Last night was a start. Tonight's not a bad night either. But now I sleep.