Monday, September 25, 2006

Writing My Way Out Of A Paper Bag

I am trapped. Brown all around me. I see no windows, no doors, no view past the brown. Brown at my feet, brown at the top, encircled in scrappy brown.

I close my eyelids. I open them again. They might as well be glued shut. Or peeled back. Either way, it changes nothing. I cannot see. Confusion reigns.

I reach out ahead, grasping at nothing. Exhausted, the strength is drained out of me.

A fan spins overhead, whipping up a dust storm. I am enveloped in the stench, clogging my nose, filling my mouth, reaching my lungs. A windstorm of brown dust. Engulfed in brown and more brown. I hate brown. I wish it would go away. It doesn't.

It's hard to breathe. I curl into myself in some feeble attempt at self-protection. All I have is what's on me. All that remains is what's in me. I know nothing for certain. I can't find a vantage point.

I thought writing WAS the point.

What are the lessons then?

Or is it excavating our truth that is what's important? How do you define truth? What proves it to be so? Why? Why the re-telling of things passed?

I am afraid. Fearful. I can't remember. What is true? What's the point? Why go there, again? Does anybody really need to hear one more hard-luck story? Why? Tell me why? What's done is done.

I put that spinning wheel of a book back on the proverbial shelf and pull down a dictionary. Ah, words defined. Meanings. Concise.

I rummage through the book. I look up a few words. I don't find myself. I'm not there.

Nothing about my life is definable, except maybe gender. Certainly not identity. Not capability. Not possibility.

Child, woman. Woman, child. Some might even say childish woman. They might be right.

I write. I process. Thought, brain, hands, relief. That's all that I need. Is that radical? Dangerous writing? Subversive thought?

Battles rage over words. THE Word. MY word. YOUR word.


Are we dissidents then? Those who might dare to take a different perspective? Those who might shatter the status quo? Those who might disturb tea? Ruin appetite?

So sorry. So sorry. Carry on, then.

As I question my motives, my meanings, my point, I begin circling myself like some primal captive animal, wolf-like, sweet yet stealthy, eyes of steel, salivating, jaws capable of murder and mutilation. Shredding the flesh. Peeling it back.

I distort the facts. I distort the truth. The truth exists in my mind, made grotesque by hallucinogenic fixation. My mind is a spinning trap. Can't trust it.

This is not truth. Brown all around.

For a moment, it comes. I remember. Don't focus on pain--you only get more pain. Focus on love. Focus on healing. Focus on transcendence. Focus on what's present. Don't forget who you are. Don't forget where you're heading. Create what you want. Create well.

I hurl myself at the brown walls. Full body weight slams. Fist first I dive into it, breaking the spell, ripping the enclosure, tearing away the illusion.

Though it held me captive, it was paper-thin.

Glorious light streams in and surrounds me, warming my shocked body. Suckling me back to health.

I've been hiding all along.


Lee Wolfe Blum said...

FANTASTIC! Love the paper bag. much I need to re-read.

So visual! This was YOU...all you have been thinking and holding inside about memoir and writing. thank you so much for sharing and letting it come out of "the bag" and breathe...all of us trying to get out of that bag can relate so much. This was quite fantastic!

Oh and loved the "so sorry...carry on"!

Suzy said...

Stunning powerful piece. I wouldn't wanna be that paper bag....I had to read this 3 times. So much to absorb here. I truly admire your passion, writing and honesty. Please do not stop.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Lee and Suzy said it all. FANTASTIC, Tanya, your voice/soul came through.

me said...

so glad to see that you are seeing memoirs for what they are, distortions of the truth, and not even for truth at all. It is a wonderful literary outlet for those who find they cannot trust their memories or have any reason not to tell the truth. If only others who are writing "memoirs" would realize this as well...

Go Mama said...

Lee, you totally got it. How to trust the process when you are in the midst of "writing hell" where you can't see the forest for the trees. How to focus all that overwhelming feeling that arises in the midst of the excavation process, and is it worth that swirl, especially if in the end all you are left with is pain and more attack.

Me, hehe, don't be so cynical. Not all memoirs are "distortions of the truth." In fact, the whole issue at hand here is that "truth" is subjective...everywhere. Have you watched the news lately? Do you believe what every lawyer argues in court? Do you believe our president and his White House spin is truthful?

What is truth? Is your truth the same as mine? Doubt it.