We Must First Find the Stories

28 Apr 2018

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For the past few years, I’ve been trying to be a “working writer.” But, it hasn’t been going so well. I’ve barely written, let alone submitted. I have journals full of poems and essays and half-formed ideas, but, when I try to write them down, I’m struck with a sense of utter revulsion—everything sucks.

Lately, I’ve been trying to edit my M.F.A. manuscript I cobbled together into a conglomerated whole. As before, I got maybe 12 poems in before I felt repulsed by this work. I was wrought with a sense of such frustration—a state I’ve managed to guide myself away from for some time. These poems also brought me to a place of total self-hate—until these poems, another pit I’ve been able to avoid.

My frustration and hopelessness grew when I couldn’t figure out why I would even feel this way. Then, it struck me—in the shower, where all good thoughts happen. First, these poems remind me of one of the deepest depressions I’ve experienced since the death of my dad, which hurts to read. I was in a relationship that was awful and stunting, and, inevitably, stunted every part of who I was. But, how did I let myself get so bad? Since that time, I’ve been consumed by the goal to never feel this way again, especially since I’ve recently pulled out of another bout of depression. To complicate things though, I can’t help but feel I need to let myself feel this, and I’m just not ready for it.

Second, reading these poems reveal, like letting the faucet turn hot, I’ve been writing with my head instead of my heart. As cliché as it sounds, it’s the truth—clichés are clichés for a reason after all. This revelation hurts. My younger self didn’t know what my heart wanted to say. My current self still doesn’t. I can’t hear my story. I try to listen to my heart beat and write to the rhythm, but I have no words to express this autonomously beating muscle. I feel emotionally locked. Even my vulnerability isn’t deep enough, which is obvious with the collage-like feel of the overall manuscript.

So, as I finger this post (we don’t pen anymore…), I want to write myself into existence. I want to find my story or let my story find me. Either way, it’s taking patience and forgiveness. Writing, living is a hike. The elevation changes and so does our pace. Unlike my hikes, however, I still don’t know where to begin, and I’m learning how to let go.