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Hiding & Seeking

It’s been ages.

Before the drama back in 2012, I felt like I was writing to a Mysterious Chorus of Friends; to a mix between myself and my journal and my girl friends and no one at all. And now it feels like a boundary issue, but it’s an issue both ways. Because I am a writer, and I crave being read. I crave what I write mattering and connecting to others (I suppose because I’m lonely, because I’m human, because this is the thing I love to do most).

Another bit of weirdness is the resistance to writing a book this summer/now; the fear, the big ol’ tidal wave I’m holding back by ignoring it, the anxiety of being spent and bowled over and consumed— lost, even though it always, always means being much more found in the end.

It’s hard to be a writer and say, ‘well, I’m not actually writing.’

Sometimes, I am writing. It’s just that I’m doing small stories, or brainstorming and dreaming, or doing some outlining, or picking up dropped stitches in “Jorian.”

But it’s hard to feel not at all close to Done.

And that is simultaneously silly— if what I love is the experience of writing, of being in a story, then why in the world do I have a fixation on getting more books all the way through the process and into print (with lovely covers and astute and delight-inducing titles)? Why must I stockpile finished books? Is it just about money or status?

My husband runs marathons sometimes. I think that is INSANE. I do not want to do that. Except, secretly, I do. (It’s not going to happen, due to my back… I mean, I think it will never happen). My longing to do a marathon (oh, god!) is the same as wanting to do a book: as much as I’m scared of doing SOMETHING BIG, I really, really want to. I want to be the smallest player, I want to be totally swallowed up, tumbled like beach glass, taken for a ride.

This is why we crave religion, the woods, Lake Superior. Because we are small. We are small pack animals, and even though the teeth on the back of my neck hurt just a bit too much, it’s a relief to be both put in my place and reminded ‘you belong.’

Thing is, I’ve been shying away from the pack, shying away from the alpha, worried about the pinch of initiation, about how much it might hurt.

It’s lonely this way.

I’ve caught myself doing all kinds of scheming to gather my creative/story community, strategies for talking more with my husband, alternately fantasizing about days and days totally alone. I miss my pack. I miss the stories. I miss the belonging that comes with committing to a book.

In “Eat, Pray, Love,” Liz Gilbert’s friend tells her that having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face— you’d better be really sure you want it.

I think writing a novel is tattoo-level. Maybe it’s marriage-level. It’s sure a shit-ton bigger than just roommate level. There’s the fear of being marked. Of carrying the evidence with me forever. (Nevermind that it already is with me: I’m writing stories that are my childhood, my adolescence, my marriage— just in parallel worlds).

I am already marked. I am already destined to die. I am assigned these stories whether I write them as books or play them in mini-loops in my head or push them down and sit on the lid of the trunk for the rest of my life.

Tattoos, children, books, spouses— they are all visible. Every commitment makes me more visible: oh, she’s a wife. She’s a writer. She’s a mom. She’s got a thing for foxes.

The question isn’t whether or not “Jorian” should be finished this year or “Ghost Hatchery” should be written this summer— the question is, am I hiding or seeking? Hiding is stressful— and not at all effective since it’s really the way toddlers hide: by covering their own eyes. Seeking means beauty, curiosity, new friends, discovery.

And it means that rather than these marks being scars inflicted upon me, I can make them feel like prizes on a quest, like constellations in a familiar sky, like myself.


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