I Am a Work of Fiction

Every second of the day is a question that only I can answer—and, because it keeps asking, I am no longer giving it the truth. I say this, but it could have easily been something else, and the best part is that lightning does not strike me when I push back my sleeves and work out a different answer than the day before. Nothing really happens at all if I get bored of repeating myself. I am inventing, creating myself, one hot minute at a time. I am rarely who I make myself out to be for long.

When inspiration strikes, I grab it with both hands and pull it in front of whoever happens to be there. Sometimes that’s just me. If it fits well, if I can work with it, I make a mental note to use it in a next story. I don’t dissect my characters on paper, I try them on first-hand and see how they do. It’s mentally invigorating to bleed like me, even if I always bleed as someone else. My heart is racing, pumping fresh life. I am my very own work of fiction, on paper and off, and this is how I get my fix. But let me start at the beginning.

I, too, was trapped in a linear story. The story was about me, but it was set in a place where the only way the wind could blow was forward, and that, I thought, could not be right. I was living big, round hours for nothing. All they did was blur into the next ones. They did not belong to me. The story was like a bad first draft. It could not be rewound, the beginning could not be revised, reverse chronology was a myth, and boring facts could not be skipped over. Its reality was squeezing out much of what might have looked rich, juicy, and fascinating from the outside; it was not. It was mundane and clear as day. It lacked details, clues, images, inventions, fresh ideas, an intuitive understanding of who I was in the story—simply the bearer of the lantern.

Just before spring, when the weather plays warm one day and cold the next, I began to write. With my head in the already thinning clouds of hope, I wrote about the clutter and the cracks in the walls, the photographs and the few rare objects that must have been proudly displayed in the rooms of people like me. I was angry, troubled, and unexcited, and that was the reason I wrote. I still believed that it was important to tell the truth, partly because I’d nothing else to tell, and partly because I imagined that its ugliness would tear it apart. Soon, a quiet, tender sense of worth and belonging came over me as I began to accept my intersections, my questions, and my search for a world beyond my world. And in the hottest month of the year, I rewrote that world the way I thought it’d be fair to have it.

Summer opened all my doors and let me out. Every night I came home excited to detonate more little ink bombs that pulsed with feeling on the pages where I could finally be myself—the self I wasn’t. Inside, I found the fragments that refused to be swallowed up by the world outside, like diamonds that I could sift through to collect and discover my true design. Immersed in a whole new mindscape, I was brimming with ideas and a newfound strength to act them out through my characters. Stepping onto paper, I made amends for the lack of me. The new dynamics of my mind melted my fears into a flux of poetic madness I never knew I had in me. I felt raw and fluid and infinite, and hard to hold. I taught myself to dream again. To live again. To be shooting stars and comets and fresh faces again.

I was crafting something personal and yet so universal for all to experience. Some said that reading it was like releasing oneself into new worlds, like dreams where each absurd scene merges seamlessly into another, but you don’t question why you’re doing what you’re doing and just move on to the next. Others didn’t want to experience this. They said they didn’t feel comfortable around me because they never knew what I was thinking, and that my writings were abstract and absurd—like dreams they couldn’t comprehend—so they pushed them out of their thoughts in the morning.

And life, life was as predictable as ever, despite its little tides, its little currents. But now they were breaking over me. I felt almost completely detached from everything. And my writing wouldn’t stop, and my cravings wouldn’t disappear, and my desire to be and change and be again was eating me away. My characters multiplied, and their power got to me, and I wanted to be them so desperately. I wanted to live all the lives, think all the thoughts and feel, oh my God, feel all the feelings I’d imagined and believed in and fell to my knees in front of, their unconsumed intensity consuming me wholly.

But the world as we know it can not be unwritten, and to write over it with small letters would only create chaos and confusion. Others couldn’t always decipher me and abandoned me after my first paragraphs. I could blame them for not learning to read between the lines, or I could rewrite myself from scratch, swap my past for the new and present it to them instead. And if they bought it, I could turn it into an extremely compelling novel with a vivid style and a mad girl as the main character, the likes of which no longer exist. And whatever corner of the world they’d have gotten themselves chained up in, when they’d read me they’d say, ‘More please’. And they’d think it was just a work of fiction, when it was me they read through all along.

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