Saturday, May 18, 2013

writing and pain

P 203 “Is it too reductionist then, to suggest that a major reason for creative writing is an abstracted version of the same biological urge that causes you to cry out in sorrow or anger? Let us call it the need theory of self expression. I cry out because some primitive part of me believes that when you cry out, someone warm and helpful comes. What do I need? It is not to have those tiny babies back. They were too small for me to remember; they have vanished like soap bubbles. I have two real children now. Nor do I want to return to the sunny, uniformly lit mental life I used to have, although there are aspects of that life that I miss.
In fact, during my postpartum break, I discovered a mystery: I loved my sorrow. It was as if I had been preparing all my life for that event, that I had entered into my birthright. When I was in graduate school, my husband and I lived in an apartment over a ruined garden that had a grapevine as thick as a child’s body, coiling up the fire escape to my window. At night I could lie in bed and reach out into the dark and pluck grapes to eat. My grief was like that, as if it had given me access to a shadowy world that lies so close to this one that when I concentrated I could push my arm into it and pluck dream fruit. It is a world where beauty cannot be separated from pain, and should not be, as when a scalpel is needed to expose the exquisite organs of the belly. A pen can be a scalpel too.
I no longer know whether it is my children that I long for, or my sorrow. I have an irrational belief, left over from my sensible past, that if I tell enough people about this knot that is always pulled tight, someone somewhere will be able to loosen it. But my new self needs it always to be pulled tight. I don’t write toforget what happened; I write to remember. There are worse things in life than painful desire; one of them is to have no desire.”
Alice W. Flaherty THE MIDNIGHT DISEASE

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