Monday, November 20, 2006

Emotional Bulimia

As I trudged up the hill to my apartment from the bus stop, I considered the possibility of writing a memoir before I finish my novel. Now, this could just be another trick, a distraction that my mind is throwing into the ring of my consciousness to keep me from finishing the sci-fi/fantasy novel I started almost six years ago. Or, it could be my consciousness' way of demanding space and attention for my lifestory. Indeed, as I listened to my knees creak during the last few paces at the top of the hill, I realized, 'I am not getting any younger.'

I have done many things that most people never get a chance to do. Protested in front of the White House. Raised $100K-plus for an organization I care about. Confronted my abuser (my step-father) about the sexual abuse he perpetrated on me. Traveled to Cuba. Gotten arrested on Market Street for 'harassing' a police officer. Stayed at a commune on the California-Oregon border, complete with communal 'shitter' (outhouse) and naked men cooking me breakfast. I have a lot of material to work with.

And I wonder if I should do this before the novel because so much of 'me' is coming out in Tala Zaal, my protagonist; and I wonder if it's because I haven't gotten enough of the 'real me' out into my essays, blogs, diaries, etc.? Does the 'real Rona' need to get some stuff off her chest and out into the world before the fictional characters that populate my imagination can fully realize themselves?

Perhaps it's the winter holiday season (also the season of my birthday) that brings upon this introspective thought-train. Winter has always been a time of turning inwards for me, of examining what I want to be getting out of my life and what I want don't want to be. It is a time of reckoning, of evaluation, of turning to look at the year (or years) past and ask myself, 'What am I proud of? What have I accomplished? Am I any closer to leaving a mark on this world? Am I happy?'

I was told today by an author and fellow fundraiser that I admire greatly that she really enjoyed my blogpost on 'An Inconvenient Truth'. I'm sure that's one of the reasons this crazy idea of a memoir is haunting my thoughts. And the fact that the day after tomorrow is Thanksgiving/taking and I haven't any real plan for celebrating or non-celebrating the holiday for the first time in probably my whole life is quite sobering, and liberating at the same time.

I guess I think a memoir could serve as a means of catharsis, or a kind of emotional bulimia--I've scarfed down all these experiences, emotions, ideas, etc. and I want to puke them out into the world. Clear my system, as it were. Not a pretty image but it feels right. And sometimes--no, often--real healing and the moving forward that follows soon after is not pretty, but it is right, and necessary, and unavoidable.

Thoughts, anyone?

1 comment:

Efren said...

If you feel that's what you need in order to get your shit done, do it. I think putting one's self is a natural for one's first major work, and even more so for minority authors (like those of us who are of color, etc.) since we always end up being lone voices in the crowd and there's a need to put one's stuff out there. I feel like I need to do the same thing, though I have no desire to do anything as write a novel--but it feels like it's a stumbling block for me in order to move forward. For the past couple years, whenever I look back at what I've done--and like you, I've done things that most people have only dreamed of or thought about, and think, "Damn, I need to write this shit down, if only for me." Maybe it's what you need to do--get your shit out there on something tangible. Whether you end up using it as something for public consumption is up to you, but there's something cathartic about putting that onto paper, and letting it go.