The following post is one post in a series of posts in which I attempt to explain my lack of posting since I started this blog with the hopes of regular posting. Or something.
They say the best authors write primarily from what they know, what they’ve experienced, the very emotions that have tormented, delighted, and confused them over their several decades on this Earth. I know this. I read these authors regularly, and their exquisitely visceral and jarring dramatic retellings of past traumas knock me on my ass every time. I can always tell the difference between a passage written from strong memory and one written solely because it sounded cool to the author at the time. That high-level, so-real-it-could-happen-to-me-and-mine style of writing is why I myself have chosen to stumble down this faux-authorial road I now find myself lost on.
In short, I’ve always seen myself as just that kind of writer. I’ve always written from my own experiences within the world we share. I know this style of writing like the back of my own hand. Why, then, was I so woefully unprepared for its now-obvious ramifications?
As mentioned here before, I’ve always had a thing for words. From the tender age of eight and on, I started and subsequently abandoned no fewer than two dozen short stories. More often than not, these stories involved classmates or family members or friends and some ironically humorous situations catered specifically to them. Hell, in eighth grade, I wrote a spectacularly gory murder mystery in which each of my classmates was murdered by some supernatural force in what were supposed to be hilariously individualized manners. I italicize that phrase because some of my teachers (in a very Catholic school, mind you) failed to see the humor in the fictionalized mass murder of 30 pre-teens. The words ‘morbid’ and ‘suspension’ and ‘anti-Christ’ were thrown about in the ensuing fallout quite often, and it’s safe to say I didn’t write for a while afterward.
But when I did return to writing, I stil tended to write from who and what I knew, as I do today. It’s a hell of a lot easier than just making every little facet of my prose up, because my imagination stopped being cool and inviting and started becoming malevolent soon after I began reading Mark Z Danielewski. But easier here doesn’t necessarily denote easiness in general.
The BIP I so often reference here is an immensely personal project. I began writing it over 4 years ago as a therapeutic cataloging of a few of the bigger things I had on my mind at the time. The chapters are generally based on my actual past or fears for my future and tend to ring very loudly with the appropriate emotional gongs for each scenario. The cast of characters is very much based on my immediate family, and I tend to pull no punches save for the necessary name changes here and there. Throughout the writing of this thing, I’ve felt those twinges of embarrassment in certain passages, that little flick at the back of my neck that reminds me that, once this BIP gets published, there’s no turning back. The people I write about – for better or for worse – will know it. They will read in the silent ferocity of Times New Roman print how I truly feel about them and their lives and their personalities and their collective affectations upon the me I call Rausch.
This has no doubt slowed me down a bit over the years as I’ve traversed some particularly scathing and treacherous tracts of text directed at certain somebodies I see fairly regularly. But I like to think it’s all for a reason. I can still feel and hear the crazy loud thoughts that were flooding my noggin on that fateful summer day in 2008 when pencil first hit pad, and let me tell you: they feel a hell of a lot worse than a little embarrassment.
But what about emotional pain as opposed to embarrassment? Can I write through that as well in the interest of keeping my writing real and from the heart?
Sad truth, kiddies: people die. Sometimes, people you need to write about die before you need to write about them. Take my grandmom, for example. She left this plane last May, and a year later I found myself attempting to force her into casual dialogue with a gross approximation of future me.
The trouble I experienced with this is unlike any I’ve happened across before, but I have determined that it was a two-pronged attack from my evil little subconscious:
First, there’s the obvious emotional hurt of trying to recreate someone you loved deeply while they were alive. I mean, diagram that sentence, for shit’s sake. When have you ever seriously thought of having to ‘recreate’ someone you love. It hurts, right? Having to draw upon ethereal memory to have even fictional contact with a loved one? Man, that fucking sucks.
The second issue I encountered within this ordeal of a chapter was my apparent need to eulogize my grandmother at every turn. As desperately as I needed simple, off-the-cuff dialogue, my fingers had this urge to ignore everything my brain was telling them to type and turn the entire conversation into a tribute to the majesty of the lady. There’s a problem here, folks. Well, two. This BIP is not a eulogy. There is no part of it where the reader is led to believe there is more than a stray ounce of decency to the protagonist, so there’s no way I could sell him thinking – over the course of 11 pages of dialogue – about anyone but himself. Also, my grandmom was never really that majestic of a woman. I mean, she was loving and caring and the whole nine, but she was a simple, down-to-Earth American retiree. She was never a super hero, she complained a lot, and she had her issues. It wouldn’t make sense to eulogize her within the pages of the BIP. It would almost be like lying on her behalf, and let me tell you, this book does not need any more lying.
So I sat, for weeks on end, hunched over the faint glow of my sometimes-alive-sometimes-dead Macbook, forcing three words at a time into my dead grandmother’s mouth before feeling guilty about the act of approximating her likeness, this immense guilt inevitably causing me to stop writing after those three mere words and to go to websites that tell me how to tie ties better, to read old comics, to drink the bottom shelf, and to watch things on TV that I found unbelievably dull and unintelligent yet alarmingly magnetic. Now repeat that for thirty pages, and you have an idea of what this god damned chapter has done to my brain and why my writing has seemingly fallen off the face of the Earth.
The good news, dearest reader, is that – as of this writing – I have vanquished that particular part of the chapter and moved on to less insanely depressing things. I’m back to a piece of the text where I can go outside of my mind a little and get away from harsh realism, and let me tell you: it feels fucking great to make something up once in a while.