Just over here contemplating how it takes years to unravel generations of social conditioning that has us believing we have to play certain roles that we actually don’t and that as soon as we’re old enough to know what a tampon is they tell us we need to be a gushing river sparkling and twinkling in the sunlight of wider society’s divine waterfall potential with all the zeal and vigor of a torrent but if we don’t want to be a magnificent and subservient tributary of the source, enthusiastic in our bondage, and instead we want to become our own current, perhaps even small and soft and trickling like a leaky tap still finding its flow and not emptying itself hurriedly into the barren basin of its deferential existence then we’re going to have to be comfortable with being misunderstood and often disliked but I’m aaaaalso contemplating whether I should start with a dirty martini tonight or just stick with gin and tonics.
I act so free and knowing and brave. But I’m not. I’m scared shitless. Of the demons of my past. Of paths I forged because of them. Of roads I didn’t take. Of parts of me that shut down to keep out the pain. Of how they all might converge at some shadowy bend on the horizon of my future and run me off the road as the regret monsters on a deserted life highway lurch out of the darkness and gobble me up.
I’m no surer of anything now than when I was a speck of hydrogen dust on the universe’s windshield. Or maybe that’s when I knew the most. Maybe we all did. Maybe the curse of being born is forgetting all the secrets we knew before because the earthly baggage gets piled on top of us for so long that we can’t remember how light we were when we first came in. The fear sets in because we’re sitting at the bottom of a goddamned cargo hold when we’re meant to be gazing out the window.
I find myself constantly wanting to dig past the shit, hoping to get to the end of the compartment, where l’ll hit something solid. I’ll knock on it like a door. I’m not just searching for what feels sturdy, but looking for the me that’s hidden somewhere inside that overloaded vehicle. The me that started as that speck of awareness barnacled to the windshield watching the whole of the galaxy hurtle past. The me that truly is free and knowing and brave.
I’ve been writing my second novel while I try and get representation for the first one. This time feels different. I’m on the same road, still trying to light a path in the dark, but now I know I’ll get to the end of it because I’ve done it before. If finishing a book the first time was like driving at midnight in a hailstorm with broken headlights, this time is like driving at midnight in a hailstorm with at least one janky headlight flickering. It’s still messy, but it’s also just enough to know you’re gonna get there.
This second time around has also taught me trust. In the storymaking process. In the profound importance of what I’ll call the “adhesive” phase; when you exist in an excessively heightened state of awareness and openness and presence. In this phase, word counts might still be uncomfortably modest, and no idea feels holdable or articulable or maintainable yet. It can be frustrating because you’re essentially just operating as the human version of a sticky trap, catching every curiosity or fascination as it buzzes by and letting it bind to you like a freshly splattered gnat on a sweaty summer night in the subtropics.
Nothing is to be wasted, nothing is to be thrown out at this stage, because though it may seem like you’re now just some flat piece of useless glue with a bunch of random insects ensnared in you, the truth is that somewhere in that buggy graveyard is the story you will tell. The adhesive that is holding together all of the as yet unrelated parts—through some strange inconceivable alchemy—becomes conductive, inducing a current of word electricity within you. The lesson is knowing that the story you’re meant to tell will likely start as an almost imperceptible gnat stuck in the glue of your psyche. But you’ve gotta get sticky first.