Friday, October 3, 2014

Putting the heat on and getting it out

It's far too hot for October.
I walked a couple miles today in the 90 degree heat.
Now some of you might think "that is nothing". But for a mammal raised in the cool wet tucked in Puget Sound this dry swelter, is too much.

I need rain more than I need anything else right now. I see people in their fully coved shoes and long sleeve shirt and I think they must be nuts. I'm in my thinned tank top and cut offs and holy fuck are my sweat glands working overtime. I've probably go some sort of sunburn already.

I am a creature hight sensitive to heat. No, not just sensitive. Resentful. I loathe the way it makes me lazy. The way I move slower beneath it's heft. I despise the way it makes me forgetful. Like how I forgot the spot that serves my favorite buckwheat noodles is closed today. Heat makes me wallow and notice every little shift in my discomfort.

I knew, even before I sat down in this cafe, that the temperature was going to force me to write about it. But now that I've cleared out those moist cobwebs, something slightly more serious settled in (seriously is there good writing about the weather? cuz no good conversation has ever been about the weather). Rest assured, this topic is just as superficial as the weather. And it starts with a flashback.

Last November instead of writing a novel for NaNoWriMo I wrote and posted an essay/blog post every day as well as writing myself to the 50,000 word goal. At the time I was also experiencing recurrent and worrisome health issues. I was also struggling thought some pretty serious shit in terms of my gender and identity at large. And I was on a very specific diet.

All these things made my life difficult (not as hard as some by a long shot). And now that I'm in better health, am not an a wacky diet, and have a slightly less nebulous understanding of my own gender, I fear that somehow my writing is "less interesting."

Now this may just have to do with my affinity for uncertainty, but I think, art, especially that which we call "transformative" or "radical" runs the risk of fetishizing the suffering of the writers/narrators.

If you have been to a lot of poetry slams I think you might know what I mean. They can turn into traumathons, competitions to see who can reveal the most "raw shit" that they have been through.
Now this might have to do with the inherently competitive structure of slams themselves (which I straight up set off my sweat glands like too-hot October). But it is the side of the writing community I connect to the least.

It ignites in me a deceitful voice that says "You'll never write anything good because you had a happy childhood" or "Your poems can never be that striking because you have never been (sexually) assaulted".

The fucked up part is my childhood was not always happy (is anyone's?) and that I have been  sexually assaulted. But I guess they just don't seem like "enough" suffering to make my writing "good".

I've been thinking  a lot lately about his speech Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave years ago about the danger of a single story.

I think, that is what is happening to me now:
The way I dehumanize others by simplifying their complex lives into a single story is the same way I am delegitimizing the thoughts and ideas I might want to put into writing.

By only allowing myself to be in a struggle in order to seem "interesting" I've trapped myself in the single story I desperately hope everyone reads into my writing. Apparently I don't give my thoughts permission to be interesting unless there is struggle/suffering present. If you're a writer/creator, ask yourself, are you giving yourself permission to see you thoughts as interesting? If not, what is stopping you?

Evaluating ideas while they are still in your head is deeply ineffective and really only serves the purpose of stopping you from getting anything out.

For instance, despite the fact that I have a supposedly less-difficult life than I did this time last year, my problem in terms of getting myself to write is not that I have nothing to write.

In fact I have too much to write about. More than I could ever get down.

I started this entire day of writing talking about the weather. But I considered writing about so many more things:
the social awkwardness i feel when when I see someone I recognize and decide not to approach them
The treehouse my brother tried to build out of doors salvaged from condemned buildings.
A series of micro reviews of all my favorite tv shows and youtube channels.
The murals/graffiti in downtown Oakland.
The nasty gut feeling I get when I read/hear the words "both men and women" or "she or he" in things directed at general audiences.

I think deep down the part of me that denies import of this stuff might is just afraid of complicating its worldview and giving in to the fact that interest can lurk anywhere.

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