Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dying With My Boots On: Writing the Unbearable

My baby boy, Sean, is 18.  He has sandy hair, tanned skin and is a bit of a smart mouth.  Nothing gets past him at short stop or anywhere else.  He's looking forward to prom and graduation and a is bit overwhelmed by all of the changes that are about to take place.

Well, not really.  Sean never made it past April 12th, 1993.

If the above were fiction, I could tell you the why's and how's and what for's. I could give a very thorough account of the day, minutes, even seconds leading up to Sean's last breath. If it were fiction, I could tell you how he looked and smelled the day before, what he'd had to eat and how he rested.

But its not fiction, therefore the above is all I can write. In truth, I don't have to write anything except I am being told that the stories I should tell are my own, not made up fiction.

As much as I want to deny it, the writer in me knows what I am being told is true. I even dream it.

Only, I'd rather chug a gallon of sulphuric acid than write my own stories. But something is pulling me away from fiction, turning my eye inward.  And in turning inward I lose control of what goes on the paper, and more importantly, I lose control of what I allow others to see in me. 

For the most part, I can make most of my stories are pretty dang funny when I tell them. But when I put them to paper, it seems the funny slides right off the top and the not so funny is sitting there, a massive gangrenous wound, festering.

I don't want festering gangrene, I want the funny stuff.  And I want you to only see the funny; its my schtick.

Take away the funny and what is there?  There's pain and loss and grief and guilt and a thousand other not so nice things.

Take away the funny and there's just me.  Everyone seeing me.  And I don't like that too much, never have. 

Example: Recently, I purchased an unstinkingbelievably cool pair of cowboy boots in Austin.  I love these boots, they're distinctive and artful and they make a statement.  I cook in the boots, talk lovingly to them while watching television, brag them up to everyone within earshot.  The one thing I won't do is wear them to work.  The reason?  I don't want anyone staring at my feet or asking me questions about my kickass boots.

Stupid I know, but that's me.
So here I am, writing this post on this anniversary day, not wanting to write it but feeling I have to write it.  Putting on my boots for you to stare at, so to speak.  Wondering where I'll have to go in these boots, dreading where I'll end up and what I'll see.  Dreading what I'll put on paper for you to read.

And it is killing me.  Literally killing me.


Anonymous said...

Big cheers to you for being brave enough to put your feelings and true stories on paper (and on the pc screen). Writing isn't easy, but writing the hard stuff can be hell.

Starting off your new direction with this post in honour of Sean - it must have taken bravery, but I'll bet he's smiling, and really proud of his mom right now.

I'm looking forward to reading what your forays into cnf will bring; the sad, the funny, and everything in between.

Go Idabel!

Heidi said...

There is no clever quip, no lovely bit of poetry that I can say to make this alright. All I can do is marvel at the inner strength it took to post this, and let you know that I am here, albeit online, sitting beside you. I am so very sorry, my friend.

As for the direction your writing should take. We have to write. It's what we do. And it seems to me, that whether we speak our truth through fiction or non, we are still taking the same risk. To inhabit the full spectrum of emotions, including the dark painful ones, with as much honesty as possible. And when the work is finished hopefully it has meaning for the readers as well as the writer.

You are a talented woman. You will figure out what is the best medium to communicate what's inside. I am sure of it.

Anonymous said...

This was beautiful and raw, like a naked corpse in a pine box with nothing but a rockin' pair of boots. There's an expression I love: "She's not where she was. She's not where she wants to be. But she's on her way." Wear your boots proudly into your own dying sunset! They're yours and yours alone. Hell, stick some spurs on them and kick yourself in the ass when you need to . . . like you just did with this blog. Well done, trailer park cowgirl, well done.

Kathleen Dale said...

There's a reason funny people make the best dramatic actors. Funny is harder, because you can't do funny unless you know tragic. From the inside.

Write where it hurts.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being brave enough to share this with the world. I hope it helps.

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