Sunday, December 23, 2012

Memoir of a Memoir: Week 4

Though it hasn't been months since I have written and attempted edits within my memoir, it has been quite some time since I have reflected on the complexities of it. The ideas that have come forth most recently are those of identity, and, they still exist within this struggle of writing. For instance, I find in even my daily routine, more people acknowledging the "other-ness" (how I had always seen it)of my identity as a writer. It is no longer something I must reveal to others so they have a more holistic view of who I am, but it is now something of a qualifier, for others to either remind themselves of, or introduce to mutual acquaintances. "Have you met, Amy?," "She's a writer." "Amy, how is the writing going?" "Amy, what have you written recently?" Even my husband asks me frequently, "Have you written today," with the kind of fervor he would ask me if I looked gaunt and he asked me if I have eaten.

One might be led to believe that these social prods might help to keep me actively aware of my creative process, but in a sense they only make me aware of how fleeting and spontaneously eruptive it can be. Previously in this blog I have addressed different ways of seeing my writing, whether I approach writing for the sake of writing or writing with purpose. Either way this blog has something for everyone:those who are interested in why I write creatively, and those who are simply interested in what it is I am writing. I tend to want to give them a little taste of what goes on in my mind when I am doing so, either to be completely full of whimsy and happenstance, or completely on the ball and focused. That is ultimately the struggle of writing I have found. Because I can and must be both of these polarities, I can have my flow constantly interrupted. It is this idea that has inspired my most recent quest for identity, my new poetry series Pink&Blue: 100 Self Portraits in Dichotomy.

So while I am writing a memoir about personal change and growth over the last 14 years in 7 year increments, I am still writing separately about myself and others. The exploration process is complex and daunting. And likewise, the creative process is proving to evolve in ways I have not imagined. But how is that exactly? I've been asked to explain what inspires me, but in relation to what? My poetry? Is it the same process when it comes to my dialogue and prose? "Do you know what you're going to write before you write it?" What a silly question. But, the answer is yes. But it is also no. Yes, in the sense that the words are always there. No as in the words always appear differently once on the page. Then they will change and change and change, until they are better, worse, awful, phenomenal, and sometimes back to what they were when they were inside my head. This is the ultimate thrilling convocation.

But what do these phrases sound like in my mind? How do they appear to me? My most recent creative response came to me in a used bookstore while Christmas shopping. I went to a lovely independent one that I frequent in a very hip part of town. I always return to this place for it's authenticity, that both amuses and disgusts me. This place has the largest collection of local poetry I have ever seen. It also has the largest collection of any poetry genre you might ever want to get your hands on, that is, if you are at all interested in poetry. You think I would just flutter about and peel apart the pages and roll around in them on the floor. But I can't. I read the apt description that the store owner scribbled on a place-card sticking out of the binding. I read the first line of the first poem on the first page. Then I put it back and move onto the next. Fifty times over I will do this until-I read a line that makes my stomach fill with honey. My eyes melt into my head. I read words that I might have been able to write myself, that simultaneously make me feel brilliant and less articulate. I suddenly hear seven more phrases whispered in my ear about a similar idea, and it is done. I have been inspired. But here on this particular night, I was not inspired by any of the books. This is the worst and more desperate feeling. Knowing full well the energy it takes to create such works and here I am spoiled, self-serving, refusing to bask in creation. As a writer, I must adore and appreciate all literature. It has been put to me, I must eat it all up like food, in one sitting, until I am sick beyond my fill?

Abhorrent. I have always shirked the idea. I am so often distracted and also in this moment inspired by the activities happening within the labyrinthine rows of shelves, behind the counter, coming in and out of the door as the bell chimes expectantly. I find myself despairing over things unseen and the social decretion of containing such overflowing emotion within as if I were made of moldy nailed together planks. That is when the best poetry comes. That is also when the dialogue comes, and for me, the incredibly severe task of narration. I can tell a story, I know how to tell a story, and I will tell a story, but you have to see what happened the way I did in that very moment. I see so many colors. Colors are very important. They represent all of human emotion and also exist in every bit of the world. The appearance and ambiance of world and all of human emotion working simultaneously, that is what poetry is to me. Anything that censors that is problematic, and painful, the poets life is arduous and any task of writing feels too ambitious. But we must carry on, if we can, in any way, if in even high water, it must be.


  1. i don't how you manage to use yourself as a fulcrum and still manage so adroitly to avoid the usual pitfalls of narcissism - but you do. in fact your memoir pieces are among my favourites of yours and i'm happy to gain some insight into your writing/creative process.

    long may you run :)



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