It occurs to me that blogging (at least for some of the bloggers I follow) is a kind of therapy. You get it out, you release it, it’s gone…only unlike therapy, tons of folks are going to read about it and maybe judge you for it, but fuck it, you’ve released it, what do you care. And I suppose that’s what I do when I write. There’s an emotional disconnect that’s already set in by the time I actually publish the book, story, whatever… I no longer feel exposed or embarrassed or protective of what I’ve written by that stage because I’ve cut it loose through the act of writing it. And have had enough time by the time it gets picked by a publisher to come to terms with that.
Of course, unlike bloggers, who are rapping straight up about a jacked up ex or situations that blindsided them, I mask my stories in the stories of these other people I manufacture. I have stories of exes too, bitter, painful stories mixed up in the stories I tell. And I’m not lying when I say that what I finally put down is so far from autobiographical it might as well belong to someone else. Shit, it does belong to someone else. It belongs to this character or that character, parceled out in fragments; this one wrapped in the loneliness I felt when he looked through me like he’d never known me, that one cloaked in the rage I bite down on to avoid saying things that can’t be taken back.
I sometimes think if I wasn’t a writer I’d either be dead or someone else would be. Not that I’m a violent person, mind, but I got issues …issues and moods as mercurial as the weather, and a brooding awareness that if life has a sense of humor it’s often at your expense. But I also have these fingers and this link they have to my heart and soul and imagination. Yeah, as I’m creating them, they’re giving me life or the sense to make sense of life.
There was the story of a dead girl in the paper recently. Big news for a small island, for a couple of news cycles at least. But I could feel her fading from our collective consciousness, this child who should be out there still breathing air and giving grown-ups hell. I didn’t know her, apart from an eerie sketch in the paper, a sketch that made my skin crawl to look at, that a child’s laughter and possibility could be reduced to the improbable. I didn’t know her and yet I couldn’t forget her. The frequency of this kind of incident on my island is nothing compared to big places where lives become numbers buried somewhere between the latest Kimye drivel and sports headline. But it feels too much for the island where I once ran barefoot and the only boogie man to speak of was Bulganey, a career rapist, scary to be sure but containable and often contained. This child who had died and was quickly being forgotten was a signifier in my mind perhaps of how drastically we had changed as a society, how we’d made our peace with the wickedness that battered like a hurricane against doors and windows that were now always locked. We had changed so much that a child could wash up on our shores and her killer rest easy at night. I couldn’t stomach it; she wouldn’t let me. Not until I wrote her down. She haunted her way unto the page, an honest to goodness ghost story through which she demanded she not be forgotten.
I have no idea if the story’s any good. It’s only a first draft. And maybe I shouldn’t have felt as joyful as I did when I finally finished that draft, my blood singing with the excitement of it; but there’s a buoyancy that comes of exorcising your demons.
And maybe that’s why people blog without restraint or censure or shame; for the same reason I make up stories without restraint or censure or shame. Because it may be fiction but all the non fiction of life is fodder, every last sloppy, foul smelling, bitter mouthful of it. And writing begins the process of letting it go. What’s it? Well, it’s different for everyone, isn’t it?
*the title of this blog post is borrowed from one of my favourite writing books, Brian Kitely's 3 A. M. Epiphany. You know, because it's five a.m. where I am. I'm not sure if what prompted it can be called an epiphany but I'd just read two highly revealing blog postings that had me thinking of how brave the posters were to turn their insides out in such a public way. At a recent televised book club discussion of my book, Oh Gad!, one of the readers, a fellow writer, said she thought my handling of certain issues in the book was brave...and I can't help thinking how much braver it might be if I could just speak it, say it, turn it over in my diary, even upload it to the internet. But then I might not be a writer of fiction and poetry.