I want to write. I want to say something. I want to have something to say.
I had something to say once, or at least, I thought I did. I do not know if it came easily, or if I did not mind the difficulty of the coming. I am not the kind of writer who is any good at artifice; my falsity is seen through immediately. It is why I am not an efficient writer (an efficient anything, perhaps) because I have to understand it before it is real. There are people for whom this is not true, I suspect, but I am not one of them. It means, though, that what I do produce is wholly authentic, having been created and remade again and again until each piece of it is understood.
Oh, but it has been so long since something has been created, so long since something has been understood. Standing at the cusp of something inchoate and powerful, I imploded. Wrestling with what it meant to write, to create, to construct I fled myself for the ease of another, abandoning for a long time the set of passions and predilections that I called myself. Five years later I am resurfacing for a handful of breaths to clear the water from my eyes and look back on a dark string of years behind me where the lights flicker and dim, not extinguished, but not exactly shining either.
Now, reading Michael Chabon’s recollections of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (as retold in Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands) I am captured by the passion and fascination, the ambition and the impotence that he talks about, of stepping from one side of a line to the other, being willing to pour out pieces of his soul into a structure he isn’t sure will hold. There is something amazing about the amount of faith and trust it takes to make that happen, a force of will to carry that through, as well as a kind of need I haven’t felt in a long time, and am only beginning to remember as I remember what it’s like to read, read regularly and read deeply.
There is, I think a certain amount of self-destruction in my favorite artists. I think it’s what’s most compelling about the best stories, even if we as readers, viewers or listeners can’t see what it is of the artist that’s being destroyed. I don’t mean just the drama that surrounds larger-than-life figures like Hemingway or Amy Winehouse, but the kind of direct honesty about the things we think and do, about the things that our friends and loved ones think and do that threatens the way that they live their lives. A good and brave writer likely threatens her existence with every word she writes. That is a very dramatic statement, and I don’t mean it as literally as I would like to, but when I imagine the construct of my life and how much my writing threatens to tear it down if I am honest about myself when I do it, then certainly I risk much in even beginning to contemplate what I do and why I do it.
I am, I suspect, starting over. There are things I must relearn, but really, when I am honest, there is no learning involved. It is a rediscovery of passion and self, a rediscovery of purpose and intention. It is a coming home, a waking up. It has not been easy, and I suppose I wouldn’t want it to be, but it is a struggle, using all the tools I have in order to claw my way out of the darkness, the numbness and back into the chariot that will carry me to my ultimate destruction: scattered black fragments against a pale sheet of perfect white paper.