Thursday, April 24, 2008
A Sort Of Modern-Day Stigmata
Posting "On The Steps Of St. Something" this week, I remembered when I was writing it, trying to make it work. I liked a lot of things about it as I wrote it, love setting a story at Halloween for any old reason. Thought about the costumes we wear, the way time changes us. I had a nightmare before I started writing it, one in which I entered a baptismal and came out of it with knife marks all over my face, irremediable bleeding scars that in that crazy nature of dream logic were both fresh and had been there forever and always would be, a sort of modern-day stigmata. The feelings in the dream informed the story, although the actual scene never made it to the final version, that deep sad nostalgic feeling about both understanding how much there is to enjoy in the here and now and how much energy we spend escaping it, trying to tamp down our pain or be somewhere else that doesn't require so much work.
When I workshopped this story in a summer conference, the class consensus was clear; I'd left out the most important part. In that draft, I'd jump cut away from the sex scene or what actually wasn't a sex scene but rather the exquisitely painful position of finding yourself somewhere you don't want to be and maybe having to do something you don't want to do for reasons you can't possibly understand. So I wrote it, cringing the whole time, the way I do when something is working. But I don't cringe because I'm worried that people will think the character is me (a frequent fear of my students -- I could not care less) or that my parents will read it (they're dead) or that I'm disgusted. I'm not. But sometimes the truth is ever so painful that you can hardly bear it. I have a friend who bit off his tongue in an accident, something he'd been doing metaphorically for years. When it happened, I couldn't help but marvel at the world and its perfect symbolism. Life is so strange, strange enough to make you bleed and scar at the same time.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another."
Drinking movie suggestion: Juno
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Thursday! Congratulations to my beloved Pistons for last night's big victory!