I have been stalling out on regular updates because I have in the works an essay on racism that is consuming my creative non-fiction energy whole. However, while that’s in the works, I do want to write something.
For the one or two readers who have some kind of faith in me.
I shouldn’t let you down. Lest you, too, leave me.
So, in that posts stead, I present some thoughts on writing. This profession can be a funny beast.
It’s not always a very visible activity. I don’t introduce myself on the forefront. Because that’s strange.
“Hi, I’m Rei and I’m an author. Ooh! Look here. A book. Do you like short stories? I have a few. What about novellas? Novellettes? What’s a novellette? Glad you asked. Let me explain. Do you read? Oh what’s that? You were just having lunch and didn’t want to be bombarded with excessive information about my livelihood? Oop. I’ll just excuse myself then. But seriously, look me up on Twitter. I also have facebook, and instagram, and a website, and books EBOOKS! and a blog. Here (business cards galore) you could find all my work on–”
And…they’re gone. Maybe they’ve even pepper sprayed me in the face. Hard to know for certain how strangers react to this kind of odd occupational aggression.
What to do in this case? Move on to the next poor unsuspecting soul? Do the same thing but online? At Cons? In writing? Do I send emails to friends, promoting myself? Do I start snail mail chain letters threatening the roof of peoples houses will fall in if they don’t spread the news? Do I create a religion of myself and get people to buy in with their hearts?
No, that’s not how any of it goes.
So, then what?
To complicate matters, I work at a cafe in a college town about 6 months out of every year. I am a front lines barista and behind the scenes baker and chef. More often than not, people ask me when I’m graduating from college. And I get it. I act sprightly and young. I have spunk, and I don’t often talk about the very adult things I go through. I’m a very personal person in that way.
In fact, I have a sense that the majority of acquaintances don’t know all the strain I put myself through.
The truth of the matter is if you took a peek at my desktop on any given day — your eyes might bug out. You’d see folder after folder markets “series” and “novella project” and such. I mean, big stuff. Long term goals. I keep them like change in my pocket. The familiar weight of them jingling against my leg as I walk sets me straight. Balances my stride. Without that, I’d fall down.
But, what a reader (hopefully) gets from the pages I kill myself for is not a harried harrowed brain, but a very open and honest heart. And while I am honest and real in person, I am not always the most open. I do not always give. I do not always want to.
This feels like a fairly common writerly trait. Making the beast of writing even stranger for me. Almost to the point of a disconnect between who sits in front of the blank page and who reaches out from across a cafe counter.
Maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Yet, it bothers me personally.
I’ve never been good at compartmentalizing. I like unification. I feel at my best when I can see how all the puzzle pieces fit together. How the compartments are really pieces of a whole. How I can stack and sort and store the pieces together in the same room.
I feel often mistaken for having one or two boxes in a big empty room versus a wall of compartments comprising a house. I don’t know why. Perhaps, that’s not even true but I have fear. A fear of being not unknowable, but uninteresting. A house no-one ever goes through. A garage, packed full, and sealed up for good.
Come flood water and storm turmoil, the precious things stored up inside will rot and ruin. But who will know?
Who will care?
As with all things, it becomes very personal very quickly. I take too much to heart. I hold on to mild assumptions or guesses I’ve made and convince myself they are true. My intuition must be spot on.
“And you, my dear, will always be alone.”
Self pity is an easy trait for the perpetually unseen. Meanness and sharpened teeth one step behind. The inevitable insatiable downward slide into resignation and defeat.
Perhaps, that is why the blank page always felt safe. It offered something people couldn’t — an emptiness that I could fill in. Regardless of where I went, what I did, who I became — it waited for me. A story that needed telling always on the edge of my door, knocking. Always a new character caught out in the rain needing to be let in.
And so, I suppose like every other obsessive author, I do what I do because I love it. Because it feels good. And because, on the other side of the page, I hope someone gets to know some piece of me. However distant and remote. However disconnected from the rest of my heart. However compartmentalized and stored up.
Such is fiction. A book only reaches the heart when the eyes read it, and we each carry around different glasses with lenses as varied as the possibilities of the universes.
I think I can live with that.