Why I Write (A Stream of Consciousness)

I have stories to tell. Some are dark and some are funny but they are all my truth. Writing is art.  I am an artist and I explore all media so writing is just an extension of that.

Art in all forms defines me. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and sometimes I’m surprised….delighted….and/or disgusted with what I see but it’s always a part of me. A part of me I can’t keep contained. A visceral urge to get something inside of me out into the world. It doesn’t have to be seen by anyone other than me. Sometimes I make art and immediately throw it away. Sometimes it’s even good art but if it doesn’t serve me at the time sometimes it’s therapeutic just to purge it…just as therapeutic as if I were to frame it and hang it on the wall.

I write in the hopes that maybe someone will relate to my story and maybe even be helped in some way by it. I started blogging in 2011 in the hopes that sharing my experience with the intersection of mental health and creativity would create a dialogue or just give people something to think about whether they related to it or not. I have about 100 followers now. I don’t know these people and I don’t know what brought them to me but I am honored that they have taken an interest in what I have to say.

Now I’m starting fresh with Grace, Under Fire. I’m focused on memoir now. The most impactful way I know how to get my story out there,

I don’t write consistently. This is one of the major flaws in my creative process.  I don’t write or make art as a “practice”.  It’s more like when I feel the need to purge something. One of the things I hope to accomplish is to learn to write when I don’t feel like it. Write to keep it all flowing because I might be surprised what comes out. Sometimes there are gems in the dirt and you can’t find the gems if you don’t have the dirt to sift through.

I want to make gems. Not because they are pretty but because they have value in some way. When you look at an emerald or something that has been unearthed, before being cut or polished, it just looks like a rock. I don’t necessarily need to write fancy cut and shiny prose. I just want to make some valuable rocks.

I don’t always feel like writing but I’m committed to this work and I want to be a better writer. I have things to say. Things that matter. Maybe they will only matter to a small group of people but if I can reach just one person who can relate to my story then mission accomplished. Of course, selfishly, it serves a purpose for me too. As I write, memories come flooding in that have been missing for years. Mania, depression, and drugs to keep me in the middle all take a toll on my memory. That and the fact that there’s so much I’d like to forget. But it’s never really forgotten, it’s ingrained deep somewhere in my psyche and like a sneaky cancer I must expose the ugly parts and bring them to the light of day so that I may examine them, maybe write about them, but definitely expel them from that aching spot where they are dug in tight, fighting for their survival. But I’m the survivor here. It’s either me or them and I’m way more stubborn.

I am more than the sum total of my life experiences, we all are. We have insights, perspectives, slightly fictional interpretations loosely based on the truth. But loose or not, it’s our truth. Nobody can take that away from us. If you try you will draw back a nub. For real.

I started as a poet. I thought that’s where I’d stay. It was good for me for a while. Short attention span theatre for my brain. ADD literature. I do think my experience writing poetry informs my long-form writing but that layer of abstraction was a great hiding place for me. Use a metaphor or a fictional line of verse and you can pull up the veil, hinting at what’s underneath but never truly exposing the soft underbelly of Self. So I’m writing a book now. And if you’re going to expose your truth then get right to the point with a memoir. Sure, I’ll have to wait until everyone I know is dead until I publish it but it will be worth the wait. For me at least.

My teacher told me memoir writing is not therapy. I need to follow-up with her on that point of view. Maybe she meant that memoir wasn’t a substitute for therapy or that it has more rules like having a plotline and character development. The biggest struggle I’m having with this book, speaking of plot lines, is organizing what the story will be. All of my homework submissions have had the same feedback that they were all over the place structurally. My teacher told me to either fix that or to write better segues. Maybe that can be the title of my book “Write Better Segues” I like it. It has meaning on multiple levels. Sort of a twisted self-help slant. But you won’t get practical advice from me. I’m not one to talk. I may be a survivor but it’s been a sloppy survival.