Monday, March 17, 2008

why writing is easily as much work as anything else...

even though you don't necessarily sweat.

I just finished writing the blow by blow of being molested, the fallout and one of the ways I chose to deal with it. It took me two weeks, and I cried and shook and was ill (including insomnia, nausea, more irritability than normal and now homicidal rage.) I have written about it before, summarized, on the blog, but never in scene (meaning the blow by blow, so to speak.) I just turned it in and it goes up for discussion in workshop next week because I am insane, and to my dissertation director in two days.

In order to do this, I had to research, spend a lot of time trying to remember things that (frankly) I never want to think in that kind of detail about, again, and try to keep an audience in mind while thinking about being molested, the equivalent of juggling with nitroglycerin (messy in terms of self-esteem and prone to blowing up in my face.) I have been exceedingly lucky to have been remodeling the house my friend left in the mean time, giving me something to do with myself while I thought (other than take care of the kids, which occasionally brings up memories as I try not to be the asshole I know how to be.)

It's dark back there. I've tried (I think successfully), to go back and be, mentally, that nine and ten year old, with the same feelings of helplessness, despair and awkward inability to be loved, so that I can convincingly write about it. The result of which is hard to read, I hope in an emotional but not technical sense.

When I turn these things in, it is always with the feeling of exploiting myself. To some degree I am, because I am sharing my own experiences (better exploiting me than exploiting you) and because I am sharing really, really unpleasant experiences with an audience. I joke sometimes that I might as well be flashing people, for all the privacy I strive to show myself. I'm getting better, as I understand it, at not writing a martyred story. It is a terrible thing, but necessary, to ask someone who has been abused to sympathize with their abusers. It is something I've never even had anyone admit is hard, or really trying, to me. You spend your entire life asserting (especially, if like me, you tried to tell and no one cared) that something did happen, and then you have to go and try to humanize someone that you don't know as human. Literature demands, no matter how much it wounds you, that you be fair to everyone. Implicate, implicate, self-implicate. You're dirty, too.

Even though it's never that simple. We're supposed to expose everyone's warts and let the reader decide.

Ever try to explain evil? It is not easy, and I am invested in maintaining that evil, since so much of my personal damage stems from being cast as evil and trying to maintain the pretense of being secretly good. I think a lot of my drive to try and make the world a better place comes from being accused of being inherently evil.

I hope that the stories will turn into something that people with similar experiences can read and feel as if they are not alone and people without those kinds of experiences can read and understand something of those experiences (other than that some people are 'just fucked up.' I hear that, I feel like a failure, even though sometimes that's as deep as the reader can go.) It is my understanding, from the theories I've read, that believing you have a particular effect on your readers is a little naive.

However, I contend that there's no reason to write, otherwise. Why bother? I want anyone who picks me up to be affected. I want to change your life. Or else, why bother? (My inner writer's workshop insists, at this point, that I add the fact that I do write for myself, but only because I have a jones for your affection and a control fixation.)

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