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Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

I remember teenage afternoons spread on the sunny grass of a local green, scribbling stories in my dog-eared 1B5 notebook. I wrote stories to imagine others’ worlds, to understand another point of view, and to be outrageous. I was often inspired by my dreams. I wrote poems to express my ‘self’ and process the emotions swirling around in my angst-ridden teenage soul. When I was sad or lonely I escaped to the page. When I felt weak I wrote myself strong. When I was bored with my life I lived vicariously through my characters – living out scenes of crime and horror that my off-the-page self would never partake in. I wrote about vampires shredding the throats of innocents, flamboyant self-centred suicide, back-alley blowjobs, and long-legged cowboys riding miniature ponies.

A tall man on a small pony - a character straight from my youthful page

In recent years not only the what but the why of my writing has changed. I still write to process emotions but I write much more about what I have been seeing, thinking, reading, and feeling. My writing is much more grounded in my ‘real’ life. I used to write to try on personas, to be someone else. Now I write to dig in to my own persona, to understand what it means to be me – to discover who I am, what I want, how I feel, what frightens me, and what inspires me. My writing is very self-reflexive; it it very personal. I do it, first and foremost, for me. That said, I have often reflected that what really stirs me is honesty on the page – whether in novels, essays, or memoirs, I love those books that sparkle with authenticity and truth. it could be a simple human confession, the noting of a tiny detail that no-one bothered to note before, which somehow infuses that detail with deep meaning, or a revelatory explanation of a social, political, or human state.

So, what is the goal of my writing? First of all, as I said, it is to feel whole, to stay healthy, to understand myself, the world, and my place in it. I write both to float into dreamy skies and to stay grounded and humble – to remain true to who I am and to acknowledge my doubts, fears, dreams, ambitions, and passions.

And after that? I write to inspire. I am an avid reader and I am constantly inspired by what I read – a beautiful phrase, an immortal ideal, an amusing anecdote, a powerful choice, an amazing adventure, a broodingly complex character. I read for the same reason I write – to understand myself, the world, and my place in it. Therefore I write in order to inspire others. Perhaps my own personalised and oft rambling wonderings and discoveries could mirror the questions and adventures of another soul? Perhaps my experiences could be relevant to another? I hope so. And it is this vague hope that encourages me to do more than scribble in notebooks, but to seek an audience. No, not exactly to seek an audience. Rather to offer my life and experiences, humbly, to anyone whom they may amuse, encourage, inspire, annoy, challenge, revolt, or evoke any feeling in at all. To anyone, really, who reads and responds to my words.

What about you? Why do you write, and has your why evolved over time?

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All of my writing, even the fiction, is largely autobiographical. I always thought that was true of most writing, no matter how “creative” and out there it may seem. However, musing on it today, I have had to consider the possibility that it’s just me – perhaps I’m just too scared to branch out into the unknown lest it ring hollow. Am I a safe writer?

It hasn’t always been thus. I remember I used to write to empathise, to try to understand other people’s perspectives. When I was 15 I wrote a short story about a teenage girl committing suicide. I gave it to my mum to read (proud to be meditating on such important themes). She flipped out. She came to talk to me in that calm-barely-concealing-hysteria way that parents, particularly mums, use to confront such joyful rites of passage as drug experimentation, early sexual activity (in daughters), suspected homosexuality, and teenage pregnancy. She put on her best ‘I can handle this’ face and asked me if I needed to talk about everything I was feeling. “Mum,” I chided, “I was just curious about what people must feel!” Perfectly flippant.

What I am neglecting to mention is the fact that my older brother had successfully terminated his own life several years previous after confiding in our mother his intentions. Needless to say she was somewhat fretful. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I actually hadn’t considered that angle (teenage selfishness at its best). Looking back now I guess I needed to write that story to begin to understand what my brother may have been feeling, why he would do such a thing.

Odd, but this anecdote, which was meant to illustrate my prior penchant for purely fictionalised writing, has only led me back to the conclusion that all of writing is somehow autobiographical. Perhaps it is unescapable – for how can we even begin to contemplate a theme/character/storyline that has not in some way already touched our lives, that has not in and of itself provoked our meditation?

What do you think?

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