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 no lighting strikes me down when I push back my sleeves and craft a different answer from the day before. Nothing actually 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 say I am for much longer.
When inspiration strikes, I grab it with both hands and put it on in front of whoever happens to be there. Sometimes, that’s just me. If it fits nicely, 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 is spiritually invigorating to bleed like me, even if I always bleed as somebody 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 stuck in a linear story. The story was about me, but 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 rewinded, the beginning could not be revised, reverse chronology was a myth and boring facts could not be skipped. Its reality was squeezing out much of what, from the outside, might have looked rich, juicy and fascinating; it was not. It was mundane and clear as day. It lacked details, clues, images, invention, fresh ideas, an intuitive understanding of who I was – in the story, simply the holder of the lantern.
Right before the 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 photos and the few rare objects that must have been displayed with pride in the rooms of those just like me. I was angry, troubled and unexcited, and that was why I wrote. I still believed that telling the truth was important, partly because I had nothing else to tell and partly because I imagined that its ugliness would break it apart. Soon, a quiet, tender sense of worth and belonging took over me as I began to embrace my intersections, and my questions, and my quest for imagining a world beyond it – my world, beyond it. And in the hottest month of the year I rewrote that world as 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 bombs of ink, pulsing with feel onto the pages where I could finally be myself – the self that I wasn’t. Within it I found the fragments that refused to be consumed by the world outside, like diamonds 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, yet so universal for all to experience. Some said that reading it was like releasing oneself into new worlds, like dreams where every absurd scene could slide smoothly into another, but one doesn’t question why they’re doing what they’re doing, so they simply carry on to the next. Others didn’t want to experience this. They said they didn’t feel at ease around me because they never know what I was thinking, and that my writings were abstract and absurd – like dreams they could not comprehend – so they pushed them out of their minds in the morning.
And life, life was as predictable as always, despite its little tides, its little current. But they broke upon me now. I felt almost entirely disengaged with it all. And my writing wouldn’t stop, and my cravings wouldn’t disappear, and my desire for being and changing and being 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, and think all of the thoughts and feel, oh my God, feel all the feelings I made up 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 writing in small letters on top of the script will 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 paste it into a hugely absorbing novel with a vivid style and a mad girl for the main character, like they don’t make them anymore. And whatever corner of the world they’d have gotten themselves chained up to, 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.