It’s not to get rich or to spread my opinions with a bestseller, although both would be nice; it’s because it’s my pulpit.
Image courtesy of: Simon Howden – view portfolio
As I travel through thought highways and self-protected alleys of my psyche, writing continues to illuminate the Why of I, only now it’s more about the Why of Us as I retire my tiresome angst-filled child version of myself.
In part I write to free the biting mental briars that hold me, to tunnel my way through anxiety about anything. My writing has moved from a once private, sanity-sustaining confessional in my teens to a public processional of my evolving views. I hope to one day pen true well-told stories that resonate with readers, although social commentary seems to come more naturally than memoirs and scene setting.
I aim to seek and impart hope gleaned from dark experiences cross-stitched with my now optimistic lens of life, to avoid language that commiserates in circuitous misery and escape what historical novelist Mary Renault describes as “Impermissible allowance of self-pity and earnest humorlessness” in reference to Radclyffe Hall’s book Well of Loneliness.
Today my creative writing seems to stem from a free-floating unnamed spiritual place that intersects with my dogged belief in self-empowerment. I never want however, to ignore empathy or compassion and become an insensitive preachy Pollyanna who separates the heartfelt condition from the human. I hope to communicate my truth as I sense it about our motivations
and disconnects “to want to know and to write about the places” writes Barbara Kingsolver on her website, “where disparate points of view rub together. The spaces between.”
Perhaps with a whiff of gentle impatience, I infer life isn’t so much about endlessly dissecting pain once the sources are evident, as it is to pull ourselves up from the black sludge and wipe our stinging eyes in order to see solutions unfold. Writing was once an insightful bridge for my conflicted self: the smile-on the face, people pleasing you’d-never-know mildly depressed teen, a product of early mother abandonment and parents twice divorced.
And, the happy-masked post-partum, biochemically imbalanced parent-at-home with a screaming toddler whose oppressive boredom of the mundane of Barney, bibs and an abandoned career refused to reconcile with the settled, sure and brilliantly clear love for her blond and blue-eyed perfectly formed infertility-created (so I had to be more grateful) baby girl. Stoked by a motherhood culture dripping with glossy magazines depicting the infinitely patient, coiffed, waif thin, giddy Stepford parent extraordinaire (Hollywood stars love “everything” about being a mom), society set the bar so high for real mothers without foot soldiers and a paid village as to be ridiculous.
In turn, pressure to fit into a satisfied and gratified mom mold instead of what I actually felt compelled me with an unapologetic pen and a reflexive fury (childbirth is not “magical” or “beautiful”; it’s messy and horribly, stupidly painful) to write hundreds of pages about my truth. I wrote about ambivalence, a topic that continues to fascinate me, about my tortured spirit as a new mother: that I loved my baby with bottomless gratitude yet hated the reassembling of identity inherent in being a mother.
Today my writing is less about reconciling to societal standards and more about my observation of the human condition. I still write to rid myself of soul grime, yet age, effort and the page wiped much away. Today I’m inclined toward broader discovery, humbled and open-minded I pray, desperate to learn how to share real life stories tinged with a hopeful light. For now, I write to demystify and bless our ambivalence. We’re complex creatures I believe, destined by a frontal cortex grappling with our raison d’être yearning to understand ourselves despite mountains of contradictions.