Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Because I cannot help it...

Someone once told me that writers write, but "normal" people actually live their lives. "I live my life," she said blithely. "I don't write about it."

At the time, I was wounded by those words. Maybe I am wandering on the fringes instead of jumping into the fray. Maybe I am criticizing on the sidelines instead of playing the game. But I don't know how to be any different than I am. And I know what happens to me when I stop writing. I act out. I stop feeling my feelings. I turn into someone I don't like very much. The only way I know how to make sense of anything is to write it down. I like to mull things over. I've never been the kind of person to tell someone in the throes of grief, "try not to think about it." I ponder. I ruminate. I dwell on things. That's what I do so I can find the right words.

I am teaching the first class of a two-part essay writing workshop this evening. Every time I lead one of these workshops, there's a tiny part of me that wants to scream: "Get out, get out while you can! Go and live your lives! Stop paying so much attention to what's inside your head!" A tiny part, mind you. The rest of me is inspired, wired, and fired up to be in a room full of people who want to make something beautiful from words on a page.

So back to that original someone. I didn't have a response then, but I do now:
First: f*ck you for being a jealous, judgmental bitch.
Second: I was (am) living my life.
Third: I went out with your ex-boyfriend the night after he dumped you and...let's just say we did some living.
Fourth: I wrote a short story about it and have been saving an extra copy for you to read, should you ever decide to look me up again.

"I am going to write because I cannot help it."~Charlotte Bronte


  1. I can totally relate. In my family, I am the sensitive one. I'm the one that is expected to slip out on the afternoon of Christmas dinner and disappear for a few hours to be alone.

    They've always made fun of me, and I've been pigeon-holed. Even when I say something funny or do something edgy, it goes unrecognized.

    Because most people who know me have put me in the category of the poet.

    The quiet, insignificant poet.

    But, I couldn't care less. Didn't someone really intelligent say something like the unexamined life is not worth living?

    Good for you for teaching others the skill of refining thought.

  2. My family, the people who were all around me while I was growing up, are machinists and farmers. Were it not for a cousin with a knack for illustration, I may well suspect that they had found me in the sugar beet field...

    You've no idea how many lectures began with, "Yes, it is nice that you can write stories but you have to start thinking about what you are going to DO in life."

    It took me years to realize that writing stories was exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

  3. I don't know any other way to be. I've never possessed the knack of just experiencing things. Every moment of my life I have felt like a spectator. . . How would I describe this, exactly what color is that?

    Until recently, I didn't know how weird that is.

  4. i love this entry, because i also get in the habit of defending my life decisions, when in fact the best response is 'normal as a goal?,' what an utter waste of time.

    normal makes me puke.

  5. Do what you ARE. It's the only way life can be enjoyable. Well...that and sex.

  6. Okay, this is like one of those Zen lessons.... if you are being told to "live your life" and what your life really is is writing, then when you write, you ARE LIVING YOUR LIFE.

    Tell biotch to put THAT in her pipe and smoke it!

    That was pretty funny about snogging her ex boyfriend, btw.

  7. Thank you.

    I loved the dialog at the end.

    You know what bitches? I am living my life thankyouverymuch and you can kiss my ass if I write about it. I can't help it. It is the only way to quell the noise in my head.

    I can see why that statement bugged you, it bugs me. Seriously though, what do they consider to be "living" life anyway?

  8. What they all said. People who tear down others gifts usually have none of their own.

  9. "Normal" people are very boring! If you can't assess your place in the world by analysing how you are, whether you're where you want to be and how happy you are (and if not, why you aren't) then how can you live life to the full anyway?

    I don't think being a spectator is a weird thing at all, we're all still living our lives. Maybe with a little more knowledge of what life an be, rather than just reacting to things that happen to us.


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