Previously on wordjunkies:
I’m a snake
(not a snail)
I shed my skin
like Mithral mail
Head and neck
no problem there
throat and shoulders
lick the air
as we found out—
is that my arms
can’t come out
No arms no hands
no words escape
No words no voice
no me takes shape
About those arms:
It was right after commenting on the half-assed state of my molt (noun; a loss of plumage, skin, or hair, esp. as a regular feature of an animal’s life cycle), that Life Coach Jackie mentioned my parents. As in, “How do your parents feel about your writing?”
Two damn good questions.
I don’t know how my parents feel about my writing. I have an idea. I conjecture. But without being able to ask, I’ve no access to the truth. By the time I decided to pursue words as a vocation my dad was dead. My mom… well, my mom offers no opinions.
Except where the book is concerned. Should that particular gathering of words ever see daylight, the remaining parental unit would not be happy. See:
- of or relating to a body in motion according to the laws of ballistics (the science of the motion of projectiles in flight)
- extremely and usually suddenly excited, upset, or angry; wild
I know to expect such a Newtonian reaction not because I asked, but because Mom confronted me before I ever had the chance to ask. Said confrontation makes a good story in itself, but hang on, let me finish this line of thought first.
Is that why I stalled? Because my parents, one live and one dead, might or might not be happy with my words? Maybe. But not entirely. I stalled for a few reasons, I would think. That is perhaps only the most obvious.
“I have problems speaking,” I told LC Jackie. “Writing is easy, but when it comes to putting myself, my work, out there… Well, that doesn’t seem to be happening either. I write to a notebook, to my computer. I write a blog that’s read by people I don’t even know but not by the people I do know. I feel like two separate entities, Annie Maier who goes about her day doing whatever and… some other person who writes. I need to integrate the two. Or at least introduce them.”
Jackie said something helpful. I can’t remember what—by then I was thinking that I had turned into someone unfamiliar. Not in a larger, life context, but in a word context. Because, one thing I’ve never censored is my words, at least not the ones I could write.
A diversion: Put one or more writers in a room with a recently successful (i.e., published) nonfiction writer and someone invariably asks, “How do you set boundaries when writing real life?” or “How do you keep from hurting someone’s feelings?” or “What right do I have to write about other people?” To which the speaker invariably answers, “Your job is to write your story. Don’t think about ‘other people.’” Amen. I think about what other people think too damn much already. I can’t do it while I’m writing, too. Not and stay sane.
So what a surprise to find that yeah, I’m great at taking this advice while scribbling words to an invisible audience, but introduce real people into the situation and all hell breaks loose. Or rather all hell comes to a screeching halt.
Then LC Jackie said something else helpful, something I remember: “Lot’s of people live two lives where their families are concerned. Do you need your parents’ approval to get the book out there?”
Which is exactly when I realized I had told her nothing about the actual contents of the book.
“I don’t need their approval. I need…” Damn, what do I need?
Amid this struggle, Jackie asked, “Why do you think you stopped working on the book?”
Dammit all to hell. I thought having a life coach made things easier. “Well…” I stopped. Why? I’ve no idea. But I bet it has something to do with that skin trapped at my arms. “So, the book… The book is about… I wrote the book.” I was trying. Valiantly. “The book is about my dad.” Jackie made a sound, but held back any articulation. “The title is Please Kill Me and Other Life Lessons. I wrote it right after he died.”
I heard another sound, but forged ahead. Stopping then would’ve meant another 10 minutes of stammering, “He had a stroke. It was a miserable death. It took three years.”
“Wow,” Jackie said.
It depends on what day you ask me. And whether “you” is someone in my head, or someone outside my head. It’s a heavy subject for sure. He was my dad. He died. It was miserable. But lots of peoples’ dads die. It’s often miserable. And lots of people write about it. I hear that some of them even publish what they’ve written.
To be continued? I don’t know. This whole exorcism thing is harder than I expected. Twisting necks and lava-vomit aside, the devil is no match for the demons we carry in our heads. Jackie is amazing and EFT is effective, but trying to relate the details of how and why is exhausting. I’m tempted to leave it up to you, the invisible audience. Do you want to hear more? But that seems cowardly. Aren’t I supposed to determine the direction of this blog? Or am I being sneaky, too sneaky even for myself? Changing the subject when things get tough.
Let’s talk about you.
How are your ghosts?