Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Different Life, Different Writing

This blog entry is dedicated to my Uncle Cyrus. He was my most diligent reader. Within minutes of posting a new entry, I would receive an email from him, always about how much he loved whatever I'd written. Once, upon reading an excerpt from my novel, he was thrilled to see I'd named a character after him. I hadn't, in fact. I'd just been poking fun at how common the name is, but didn't have the heart to tell him so. This is the first entry I am publishing without him here to read it.
I miss you, Cyrus. 


I see it has been nearly two years since I last wrote a blog post. 

I thought maybe it had been a few months.

Shit went down, y'all. Things that stopped me from writing*. Stopped me from blogging.

Things that felt shameful to say here. To say at all.

Even now, as resolutely as I promised myself to just spit it out and move the F on, I hesitate.

Here goes.

I got a divorce.

How harsh that word is. How crass I sound just blurting it out like that. But to say anything further right now is just too difficult.

All I will do is paraphrase a quote from Amy Poehler's memoir:

"Getting divorced is like taking a picnic blanket, all set with food, etc, and flinging it with all your might into the air, then watching things land where they may."


The last eighteen months have consisted of every last aspect of my life being flung high into the air. Some things landed over there, some are still spinning in the air, some never made it back.

Some days I feel broken. Some days my healing is palpable. How can you be broken and healing at the same time, I often wonder.

At a dinner party on the weekend, someone asked, "Are you still writing?"

My answer was a series of mumbled half-sentences. I'm not working on novel two, not sending out novel one. I am not writing in the way I once was- all day, every day. But I am not not writing either.

Writing is, in fact, one of the very few things that is still the same in my life. I am writing all the time. I never stopped. The reason the question stumped me is that the writing has changed.

For the last thirteen months, I had a full-time job. No more all-day writing. But when shit went down, I had to write about it.

I would wake up many a Saturday morning and, like a diarrhetic person, just barely made it to the page before everything spilled out.**

I hated most of it. I used to write about Pakistan, a country I haven't lived in for 26 years. With a buffer of a quarter century and 8000 miles, it was easy to invent stories, invent situations, have fun. I'm not putting myself or that writing down (or trying not to at least). It was just different.

Now, I write from inside the eye of the storm.

Half the time, the experience I'm trying to convey is not even 24 hours old. Plus, with my new therapist's insights, even my most basic interactions are fraught with part self-awareness, part new questions, part self-confidence, part self-doubt.

When I write about a new interaction, a half-successful standing up for myself or speaking my mind or doing things a fraction differently than before, my heart is still heavy with confusion (transformation is exhausting, y'all).

I don't fully understand what happened the night before. I write about it haphazardly, through a thick fog of half-understanding, half-pain and confusion. Worse, I don't have that pithy closing with which I usually end, that little verbal badoom-choom which used to inflate my ego (and mask my true feelings).

This new writing is frenzied. My hand hurts from writing so fast, unable to keep up with my brain. Most days, I stop halfway and just leave the piece unfinished. Where is this going? What am I even trying to say? It's such a mess. I don't even know what I'm doing with my life, what exactly do I think I'm writing about?

In fact, the fact that I'm writing about me, my life, is the scariest thing of all. Fiction was great. Non-fiction- actual personal stuff- is a scary mother-fucker.

And I don't care. About any of it. That it's hard, scary, shitty.

Some part of me recognizes that this writing, this period in my life, these half-complete pieces, are essential. To what, I don't yet know. I just know they are.

This writing is raw. Unprocessed. Unfiltered. Unpolished. It is- deep breath- imperfect. And it is real. And that's all writing needs to be.

I have never had less to show after a day's writing. I have never felt better.


*writing in the way I used to
**apologies for the number of un-genteel bodily functions referred to all over this blog. Unfortunately, writing comes from the body as much as anywhere else.