Tag Archive: storytelling


Trigger.

They’re things I haven’t exposed myself to in months, maybe a year or more.  They hurt, every time.  It’s a cleaner wound now than it was, but just because the cut is cleaner doesn’t mean it doesn’t bleed.  But still.  It is, as I heard myself saying “The best art I have ever been ashamed to inspire.”  That’s probably overstating the case, because none of it is really about me.  I’m a bit player, a walk-on, walk-off, walk-on who affected outcomes at the time but was not a first cause of anything really much.

But do I know that?  I don’t know.  I’ll take that humility, that I am only the littlest finger of a muse, over being the muse entire for things that make the air around them cringe and bleed and sway.  Because she cut out my heart, and what if that’s something that only I have the blame for?

Everything is about a lot of other things.  These things are, at least a little bit, about me.  And as any good art does, they bring back sense memories and evoke a shadow-summoned grin at the remembrance of things that would never have happened, if I had been a little smarter, a little faster, a little better prepared to defend the things that mattered.

 

Transgress.

My brain is leaving me, a piece at a time.  I know it is.  I will not miss it as it goes, because I won’t remember what it is I’m missing.  Things just… fade, and don’t come back, until I can find a trigger to bring them to the surface.  The silver thread that ran through my life, birth to present, is gone, and will never be back.  It won’t kill me, but it is making me very different.  I live, not for the memories I will create, but for the experiences I can have in the present, because the memories may not ever be there.  It’s a roll of the dice.  And it’s a transgression to tell you this, because it shows weakness, and fear.  I am weak, and I am afraid, and I wish very much that I could have lost a leg, or an arm, or anything else.  But it will be what it must, and I accommodate.  I will not be frightened of the loss.  I am only frightened of hurting others by not being able to find the memories that mean to much to them.  I am frightened of the mayfly creature I may become.

So I tell stories, now more than ever before.  Story after story, to entertain and to leave behind a memory of me when my memory of my own life fades.  I tell them to anyone who will listen, who wants to hear, who will have a moment’s joy and beauty out of the things I have done with my life.  I do not want the things I have been, the things I have done, to die with my memory of them.

There was a woman, married to a man.  “Everyone involved deserved better out of me than they got.”  It’s the thing I say about that time, and it is still true.  Triggers fire bullets, and bullets ricochet.  Trigger a strong enough emotion, a strong enough physiological response, and you’ll remember the story.  If you can remember the story, you can tell it, at least as much as you can remember.

“It’s about falling asleep on someone’s breast when you’re too paranoid to sleep with anyone, and not knowing you’re asleep.  It’s about mourning armor that has spikes on the inside and on the outside.  It’s about her cutting my heart out of my chest, and sewing the space together with barbed wire.  It’s about having some piece of your heard sawed out and sewn over, so it won’t get burnt up with the rest of you.”

 

Transcribe.

These things are painful to remember, and beautiful, and irreplaceable.  I would not trade them for anything.  I gather them, frame by frame, and make a sparkling mirror mobile to help me remember the good, and how not to cut myself on the bad.  I would not wish forgetting on anyone.

And I will find out what happens in Split City before it becomes a memory lost in dust and dark places on the scans.

I will never forget love.  Even in the myriad forms it takes, as much as it stretches and deforms and makes a place inside you that begs to be filled and strikes out with venom and blades at the slightest touch, I will never forget love.  It is never quite what it seems, and it always seems both a little better and a little worse than it really is.

Words mean things.

DESERVE.

“You deserve this,” she whispered into the cup of my ear, nibbling on the outside ridge of it.  “You deserve everything.  I love you.”  We curled up into each other, a nautilus twined in on itself in the gravity of infatuation.  We slept together, and woke together, still tangled up and relaxed, still so in love that it permeated around us.  We were beautiful, together.

“You deserve this,” she whispered into the side of my neck, clinging to me as if to life.  “You deserve everything.  I loved you.”  I pushed her away from me, frightened, repulsed.  She fell back, leaned on the wall, clung to me still with her deep, wet eyes.  She staggered back to her feet, slowly.  I looked around at the unholy mess our little apartment had become as she tottered out.  I barely heard her open the front door, but I heard the click-whoosh of her lighter.

 

NEED.

“I… I need a favor.  Please.”  It shocked him to hear it, almost as much as it must have hurt her to say it.  She was not the type of person to ask for things, ever.  He had never, in all his years as her friend, heard her say she needed something.  It was new, and frightening.  He knew, in that instant, that whatever it was, it was something she needed as she needed breath and light, and that he would do anything to give it to her.

“Look, I just need a favor, all right?  Nothing big.  Just a favor.”  The words were fast, too fast, trying to overrun her objections.  He was cupping her face in the palm of his hand, like he knew she loved, and she knew he was trying to make her see it his way, like it wouldn’t cost her anything.  She knew, too, that it would work.  Just realizing it made her tired, sad, and a little sick.  She was so tired of “compromising” with the things that he needed.

“I need you.”  I looked her in the eye, and did not flinch.  It was a powerful statement, left bald that way.  She was afraid, and I wouldn’t let that stand.  “I love you, and I need you.  I will not be the same if you go.”  I took a deep breath, and let it sigh softly out of my lungs, deflating all my defense, all my ego.  “I need you.  You are still my sun, my moon, my starlit sky.  It hasn’t gone away.  It’s not going to.”

 

Words mean things.

Words are the birds that take flight, and show you where your enemy is hiding.

Choose your words as carefully as you would choose ammunition, a love’s or lover’s gift, a mode of travel, a medium in which to burn and create.  Words mean things – have a care that the things you say are the things you mean, or ‘ware the dragons that live outside the edges.

“Watch their hands.”

Once upon a time (because all the best stories start with once upon a time, O Best Beloved), there was a boy.  Because this is a love story, in parts, there must be a boy – because I am a girl, and at least one of the stories I will tell you across this fire and under a lying moon is about the kind of love that stories usually tell.  A boy and a girl, who are lost and crossed in love for one another, that will never come to be.

 

So, once upon a time, there was a boy.  I met him because I was a girl who wished not to be a girl – I wanted as hard as I could to be a boy, to live naturally in a boy’s world, and forget ever having been a girl at all.  I met him because I climbed trees and drove cars and rode motorcycles and picked fights, and at least the last three of those things will earn a boy money, if he is fast and reliable and good in a pinch.

There are two kinds of fights you can be in: a pretty fight and an ugly fight.  You have all seen pretty fights, O Best Beloved.  They are fights where boys hold each other back and only make contact to score points with the crowd.  They are fights with rules, and with courtesies.  Ugly fights are the different sort.  Some of you have seen them, and any of you who have will never mistake the difference.  Ugly fights are fought to win, and have no courtesies.  They only barely have rules, and almost always, those rules are about when you have won, and nothing else.

In the same way that people will pay small money for a hockey game that is pretty, and big money for rinkside seats at a game where they can be confident that they will see someone else’s face sliding, gap-toothed and bloody, down the rattling plexiglass inches from their eyes, there is a pay gap between pretty fights and ugly fights.  Ugly fights pay better, because they are not legal in most civilized society, and because they are higher risk for the participants, and because people who are not civilized who must live in civilized societies will pay very good money indeed to see thoroughly uncivilized engagement.

 

So, I met a boy.  He taught me the difference between a pretty fight and an ugly one, and how to win when there is no one saying “Hold me back!” in a brawl.  I was brought to a ring with him to learn to win, because there is money in the unexpected, and a girl mean enough to win in an ugly boy’s world is often unexpected.  So I met him the first time, and he looked at me.  We stood apart from each other in the ring, and he began speaking.  “Watch their hands,” he said.  (Every time I met him, O Best Beloved, he would say that to me.  And the sound of his voice is something I only got back later, lives away, in a pretty little therapist’s office.)  “Watch their hands, and their feet.  You’ll hear people tell you to always watch their eyes, and their center of mass.  That’s a lie, and a fucking dangerous one.  Anyone can lie with their eyes and their chest with a little practice.  Almost no one can lie with their hands, and their feet, with any consistency.  Watch their hands.”

Now, anyone who has been in a fight will know this for idiocy.  In a fight, an opponent who watches your hands and feet is an opponent whom you can eat for breakfast, because he is watching the easiest and most minute things you can control, so you can control his eyes.  When you control his eyes, you win.  So, while I listened to the words on his lips, he broke my skull.  He ate me alive.  I lost horribly, and fell in love.  The next time we met, I ignored the words of his mouth, and watched the language of his body.  Watching his body, hearing the words his spine gave me, I made him work to win.  Once I made him work to win, I started fighting on my own.

I met him one more time, in a ring that had money on the line.  There were more than two of us, then.  All of us children who believed we were gods, ignoring the shit and sawdust in our so-mortal hair.  By then I believed I was a god, invincible and immortal, immune to the panic cries of my fallible body, driven by a will that was faster, smarter, and meaner than any of these pretenders to my deity.  I was wrong, and he taught me that with a kiss, and a promise.

He met me in the ring – I was near a solid wall, watching forward, and never heard him behind me.  He cupped my head gently, lightly, fingers sliding lovingly into my hair.  Fast, hard, firm, he bounced my head off the wall, clouding my eyes and ringing my ears.  I lost my balance, stunned, and he dragged me up by my hair and kissed me.  He kissed me with passion and fire, like we would both die in the next minute and nothing else mattered.  He kissed me like a god about to burn, and I drowned in that kiss and his fingers in my hair.

“Watch their hands, and get out.  Get out.  You are a girl, and this is not the world for you.  I won’t kill you, but someone else will.  I promise.  Get out, while you still can.”  He whispered, fast and fierce, into the cup of my ear, and pulled my head back to stare into my eyes for a precious split second longer.  Then he was gone, dropping me to the ground, limp as a rag doll and stunned.

The whole meeting lasted less than ten seconds.  The fight lasted less than three minutes more.  He found everyone in that ring who might do me harm, and did to them before they could do to me.  While he was busy doing that, I pulled my feet back underneath me, found my head again.  When he came for me, at last, I saw him coming, and I leapt at him.  I leapt at him with every piece of fire and agony and will in my soul, and I won.  By the skin of my teeth, I won.  He would not kill me, and I flew at him in carelessness and hopelessness, knowing it.  Because he would not kill me, I overwhelmed him, a tidal wave of craziness and despair in the form of a bleeding, silent, raging girl.

That was my last fight, and I won it.  I won it because he loved me, and I loved him back.

 

Now, I will tell you one more story.  It is also a love story, though of a very different kind.

Once upon a time, O Best Beloved, there was a girl.  She was a beautiful girl – brilliant and kind and funny and fascinating.  She was all the girl I had sworn never to be, and held it with passion and unassailable will that I had never even dreamed possible until I met her.  I loved her for it, for every inch of herself, and she loved me back.

Once, in a deep night, under fluorescent lamps and under a truth-telling moon, she asked me to tell her.  “Tell me what you see,” she said.  “Tell me what you see when you watch me, and what you know because of it.”  So I told her.   I told her what that nameless and much-loved boy from so long ago had said to me, the knowledge I had regained in the lifetimes since, and used so often and so well.  Watch their hands, and watch their feet.  They will lie to you with their eyes, and their bodies, but they cannot watch their hands and their feet.  Watch how they move, how they speak, whom they speak to and whom they do not.  I taught her the things I had gotten back from that time with the boy, and the things I had learned because of those first, basic lessons.

It was the first time I had told anyone what I saw in them, though some had asked.  My trust was not misplaced; she still loved me, even after I told her what I saw.  She still trusted me, even though I told her what I do with the knowledge I have, and how I make the people around me bend to what I want, because I know what they are thinking when they think they are not thinking at all.

 

And now I will tell you one more story, because this is a lying moon and all storytellers are liars in their hearts, and cannot resist the call of one more tale.  I will tell you, O Best Beloved, as I told her.  Watch their hands, and watch their feet.  Watch your own hands and feet – they will tell you things about you that you never thought to ask.

Watch their hands.  As I fall asleep, watching my hands with the eyes of my skin in the dark, I see the story my hands are telling.  They curl up on themselves and each other, like weasels in the nest.  They scurry and bury themselves under blankets and pillows and body, folding over and protecting the delicate, sensitive centers.  They tell me a story about myself that is truer than pretty lies, and more lie than a bright and cutting truth.  Watch your hands, as you fall asleep, and they will tell you a story about what you are thinking when you think you are not thinking at all.

 

These are the stories I tell you, O Best Beloved, across this fire and under a lying moon.

The problem is follow through.  So, about a day ago (22 hours, for those of you counting), I had what struck me as a beautiful, stunning set of stories.  I am never short for ideas about stories, but this was a framework built for me, that I could just people with people and love the exploration of finding out what they think and why.

The lack of ideas is never the problem – so this is my own attempt at accountability.  I forgot to borrow the book that gave me the amazing vision, but I remember that book.  I will remember to borrow it, or find a copy of my own so that I can deface it and make something new and fascinating (at least to me) out of it.  Probably both.  Hopefully both.

A book, a knife, a dream.   These things have come in threes, and as the moon waxes gibbous and prepares to achieve her fulfillment, to begin a new cycle.  What that cycle is is up to me, and me alone.  I am determined to make it one that tells stories that have voices and will sing to the people who listen when I talk.

 

The dance of the cosmos is whirling and singing in my brain.  This is my statement of accountability that I am too determined to let it go.  Let there be voices heard, mine and everyone else’s, and let stars become people who become stars again.  Round and round we go – bell, book, candle: knife, book, dream.  We will see.  It is a good thought, looking forward to sleeping soundly and waking up to stories that deserve to be heard.

 

They are all my voice, in one way or another.  But they are also not my voice, and not myself, or only prisms of facets of myself.  And I want to meet them, ask them questions, and learn who they are, what they want, who they love.  So, tomorrow, we begin.  Wish me luck.

Mythology of self

We tell ourselves stories all the time, every day.  You’ve heard me talk about this before, and it’s a theme I come back to a lot, primarily because I spend a fair portion of my time asking myself what story someone is telling themselves about a particular set of facts, events, circumstances, whatever.  There are lots of stories to tell about any particular event, and the story that you tell yourself will materially and significantly change the way you look at the event, how you feel about it, how you feel about yourself and other people in relation to it.  The facts form a very, very low percentage of the actual opinion and emotional resonance that a human forms around any important event: most of what goes on in our heads is the story we are telling ourselves about what happened, what is happening, what will happen, what might happen.

That becomes even more pertinent, even more common, even more influential when we think about people instead of facts.  People are mutable and interpretable in a way that facts are not.  Though we spend a lot of brain power excusing or ignoring internal motivations, on some level we (as humans) are basically incapable of ignoring the fact that other humans’ internal motivations DO exist, in a theoretical sense.  So, based on the fact that it can only ever be a theoretical sense, we create theories of who they are, what they are thinking, how they are feeling, what they might or might not think or feel or do in regards to us and what we feel and think and do or do not do or think or feel.

How, then, do we reinterpret and recreate ourselves?  We are, from an internal perspective, a complex mix of both fact and perception, of concrete certainties and guesses.  When you ask someone why they did a very important, very emotionally loaded thing, they will often have a logical, rational, prepared explanation.  They have a story.  They will tell you their story about why they acted the way they did, what they were thinking, what they were feeling, and why all of that makes sense in the context of what was going on.

The problem with that (or at least, this is my theory today – ask me again tomorrow, it’ll probably be different) is that it’s bullshit.  It’s a story they’ve devised to explain to themselves why what they did was right, or why it made sense, or just why it was okay to do at the time.  It’s a construct, a fabrication, a creation designed to uphold their certainty that they do have reasons for doing things, and that they understand why they do things.  People, in general, devise their sense of self and identity from identifying common characteristics in the stories they tell themselves and other people about themselves, and then basing their future stories and behaviors on those characteristics.  It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of identity reinforcement.

Here’s the chink in that armor: ask someone why they engaged in an action that has no real resonance, that wasn’t important, that didn’t have any real meaning to them at the time.  Preferably, ask them about it both right after they do it, and then again some time later (best if you ask after they have forgotten the first conversation about the action).  At first, usually they will not know why they did that thing.  It was a small action, an unimportant thing, that didn’t need a story.  But when questioned, they will create a story, no matter how small, no matter how poorly constructed, to uphold their self-identity.  They will seek a story that holds a reason that somehow jells with the way they see themselves, through the lens of years or decades of stories repeating the same themes.

After they have forgotten the first conversation, ask again.  The story will probably have changed, although in many cases not by much.  It will hold together better, and small details will be altered to make it flow more freely and coherently.  It will be more according to the standards they expect of themselves, positive and negative, and it will be a better brick in the wall of self-identity.  The story gains stability the further away from the action the person is – because memory is a strange and mutable thing, and we color it in with details that make it easier for us to make sense of it in context of our world.

So, the thing I am going round and round trying to get at is this: we create our own set of stories, our own mythology of self.  My mythology of self is complex and at times incoherent, and interacts with others’ mythology of me in interesting and sometimes very surprising ways.  Everyone I know has a mythology of self – a series of stories that they have told to themselves and others that is part truth, part fiction, told and retold, honed and refined so that it supports and reinforces the person that they have convinced themselves they are.

The mythology of self is a critical part of human experience, I think.  It is utterly inseparable from the way people self-identify in a more scientific and psychological sense, and it is crucial to creating a bridge between separate people, so that they (like fractious deities in totally unrelated pantheons, forced to overlap and interact) can mingle their mythologies to help form a society that we can all thrive and find wonder in.

There is something in this idea, I think, that I will find really useful for exploring the concept of deity as self, and self as deity.  I will have to chase it down one day soon.  For now, I am having great fun poking holes in my own mythology, squinting skeptically at what ego and mis-memory created to convince me that I am me, and there is no other way to be.  We are humans and gods, children and crones who have a fascination with the other and the self, and we are inherently mutable and adaptable.  The mythology of self may well be one of the most powerful tools we have in reinventing our selves and our worlds to be people and places that we are invested in, joyful about, and in love with.

No, really.

There’s a copy of William Gibson’s idoru on my coffee table, half-read – and it has been half-read for over a week, because I can’t sit still with it for long enough to get lost in it.

There is a Charles de Lint anthology on the floor beside my bathtub, that I’ve read four pages of.

There are two whole bags of books, full of fabulous things (some of them research for this very project!) like Camille Paglia and gender theory and fetish research and sex theory and queer personal history and the way cities affect our thinking and urban culture and fiction that chews my brain up and turns it into new shapes – these are a few of my favorite things, and I cannot. Sit. Still. To read them.

I’m not faking it.  It’s not ADD.  Every time I try to get lost in a book or a movie, try to just turn my brain off, the front turns off just fine – and the writer-brain takes all those spare clock cycles, grabs them with greedy hands, and starts om-nom-noming them into more things.  It hit critical point last weekend, when I sat on my porch and gritted through my teeth at two very patient friends about how I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t slow down, couldn’t think past all of my right brain trying to eat my face in every possible direction.

Lesson learned: I am not faking it.  I am not pretending I have something important to say to get attention.  I am not making up things that sound interesting but really have no substance in order to attract the interest of an adoring public, to feed my own ego.

My words mean things, because they mean things to me.  I am a writer, because I write with intent.

Bright side: I have made more progress on this juggernaut of a world in a month than I did in six, before, because I am dedicating real time to it, real energy, and a genuine desire to see things.  No blindfolds, no gags, no earplugs – I want to know where it comes from, how it works, why it works.  And so it is working, because I am bringing curiosity and a willingness to bleed to find out to the table.

I’m not faking it, and so I’m earning knowledge I didn’t have before.  It’s a good fucking day.

I had another dream.

Two, actually.

In the first, there is a lady and her retinue.  Very epic-fantasy;  shocking, I know.  The retinue is all indentured in some way.  There is someone trying very hard to kill her by covert means, and she will not tell them why.  There is one man tasked to keeping her alive, instead of simply keeping her comfortable while alive, and he is tearing his hair out trying to find the reason that she is a target, and who is making her into a target.  He loves her, although it takes him too long to figure out that he loves her instead of just being true to his duty to her (of course).  It’s a very formula tale, but the way the characters interact made it… interesting.

“I hate poisoners. At least a real villain will face you, or have to look at you to aim when he strikes you down.  Poisoners, though, they don’t care who they catch in the cross-fire, and won’t look at a man to aim at him.  They just toss their filth in the line of a life, or a dozen lives, and scurry back to their holes to see if it worked.”

“I tell you this – I will find him, and I will answer him for his actions.  And no matter who it is, or how high or well-defended, I will see his blood on my blade as that answer.  Isn’t that right, dear doctor?”  (This, when he suspects the much-drunk doctor of being more than he seems.)

The second – there is less plot, more a single character.  He thinks he is old, because he has lost the bloom of youth that he had when he last did things that people remember.  And so he has convinced himself that he is old, and broken, and useless.  And somewhere, somehow, he must have a dream – he must dream a dream of youth and life and energy and will, and remember that he did amazing things not because he was young, but because he was driven.  He must be reminded, somehow, that there is nothing about him that prevents his mind from working, nothing that prevents him from being as dangerous as ever.  (The visuals from the dream are vivid but very out-of-context for me.  He alters something that looks like a cross between a soldering iron, a swiss army knife, and a sonic screwdriver (but is apparently a very simple tool to him) to make it suck out the mercury-like driving force of… Something that looks like an overhead projector?  And that same type of overhead projector is used as a mechanism of playing his greatest feats back to him, and semi-conscious, he ends up holding onto a sink sprayer (?!?) coming out of it to try and recuperate before the next attack of… whatever he and his companions are being assaulted by.  In retrospect, it sounds like a very strange and disjointed Dr. Who episode.)

In any case – life is returning to a swing that is predictable (somewhat) and I am dreaming and writing somewhat regularly again.  Still have to get the notes down from the weekend; bad Motley! Stop procrastinating!

I know this.  I know that I know this.  I am occasionally a drummer, and often a hummer, and alone or around people who don’t mind that I can only carry a tune when equipped with a sizable bucket, I am a singer.  But, realistically, I am not a musician.  That’s okay – everybody’s got their thing, and while I can appreciate and love and revel in music, I am not equipped to make it with any real facility.

Here’s the problem: ever since I read the thing and then wrote the thing about belligerent essentials, there has been a song punching the back of my brain.  It is a song I am in no way equipped to write, and if I did try to write it, it would end up being a hunchbacked quasimoto of a thing that limped along and said nothing like what I wanted it to say.  Words I can do, and meter I can occasionally do, but words + meter + tune = Motley’s Brain Explodes.  But it has a beat! You can hear it and feel it in the way the words come out in the rant, in the way they line up together to try and kick down doors.  There is a thing there that wants to be a thing that people can howl along with and fling at their enemies while taking back wild spaces for themselves, even if it’s only in their own heads.

Or, on the other hand, maybe that’s just the part of my brain that makes up things telling me that there should be a song like that, and it’s just making up things again.  I don’t know.  But it’s infuriating, whatever’s going on.  My right brain is eating my face.  Everything punchy that the phrases can slip into has the words kicking into the backbeat and distracting me.  Because they pulse, like adrenaline junkie music.  Except I can’t make adrenaline junkie music, so there’s nowhere for it to go.  So I am trying to Rubix Cube this thing that wants to be a song into something I can actually make, so I can get it out of my head at least enough to get around it and back to the things I am trying to work on.

Once again, I am living in a land of arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!  So maybe I will find a big piece of posterboard and a Sharpie marker and write all the phrases that want to line up with stompy boots and kick down doors and stomp to that fucking beat, and then it will at least be out, and not in the way of everything else.  Then they can live in big letters and no lines and be waiting for when I can figure out what in the hell I am going to do with them, and they will not chew on me in trying not to be forgotten.  This is a plan, I think.

Today I pack for a trip to the Frozen North.  Packing includes acquiring and becoming functional in the use of little voice recording gear, so I can make at least some practical use of 20+ hours in the car this weekend.  Maybe some good stories will come out of it; who knows?  I am determined to stare into the teeth of the Feeling Like a Crazy Person Talking to Herself tiger and giving it a good kicking.  It’s the only way I will ever get past it.  With enough practice, it will feel normal, like so many other things.  If nothing else, I can get a lot of good notes on “this is the sound of” type things out of my head and onto the record, so that I don’t lose track of them, and then once I am better at getting my right brain to stop eating my face, I can get more detail of the scenes and people that live in the music onto paper or at least into words.  Now I just have to figure out how to translate that smell-o-vision 5000.

Wet, sticky, and amorphous

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

I have a movie theater in my brain that does not want to be tamed, and it is driving me insane.  It has visuals and audio and smell-o-vision 5000 from the year 3015, and it refuses to behave.  It wants the city to spring forth from my brain full-formed and whole, so that all anyone need do is walk in like a tourist and watch the world tick over, rather than me crawling along like an inchworm, pen in hand, trying desperately to keep up with the tidal wave of sensory input and failing every time.

The closest thing I can find is talking, because my mouth is faster than anything else and I can get enough fragments out fast enough to kind-of, sort-of keep up with the flow, and inflection is better than punctuation at getting the feel of the beat of the moment.  I can put the pounding of the runners’ boots on the rooftops into the staccato of the words, and I can slink-slide Rav’s hips into the grinding, rolling, lolling syllables of the dance.  In text it takes write and rewrite and rewrite to get that, but in voice it’s all about playing with it the first time, or rolling it around in your mouth until it tastes right.  So talking almost works, as long as the music that makes the movies in my head play is there.  The music makes it go, you see.  Without the music it’s an hours-long slog to make anything go.  The music is a shortcut drug to the liminal space where the city lives.

But what is a storyteller without an audience?  A homeless person yelling in the street, sans this year’s fashionable shopping cart.  And without an audience, even with the music, hearing the sound of my own voice trying to play the raconteur turns sour quickly, because what kind of crazy woman tells herself stories?  Imaginary listeners aren’t much better – imaginary friends are for children and the terminally, desperately, clinically lonely, or for those so unutterably vain as to imagine that there are thousands of people who are dying to hear their stories, if only they knew it.

And so I get stuck.  I trail off, or taper out, or just stop talking all together, wrapped up in the story inside my own head, afraid to ruin it by trying to give birth to it, afraid to realize that I am incapable, after all, of bringing it to completion in any real sense.  Writing is work that I have never really proven that I am any good at working at.  But I am getting better at being naked, and if I bare my fear, I force myself to face it.  So I make it public (heh) here, and record it, so that I can call myself to account for staring it in the face.

I will bring this birthing process to bay.  I will drag this wet, sticky, amorphous thing from my brain, and mold it into something beautiful, so that I can prove that writing is work that I am capable of working at.  Reader beware – no one is safe.  Especially not me.

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