You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

7 Dec

I’ve been writing about the end of the world for months now, in fits and starts, redo’s, edits, charts on the wall, memories I cannot grab in the air, a past unwritten.

I finally get the opening right, and I feel spent, worn already.

Her black boots against the pavement mark, the slow heave of her gait. One foot, left foot, this foot, right foot. Footfalls against the buildings, ratcheting between. Breath ragged, steady. Measured.

Crows cascade from the branches of a maple, her eyes follow as they scream across the grey sky. She sniffs at the air. Snow, soon. The leaves have turned to gold, nearly grey with cold.

“It’s October.” harsh, like nails, a voice unused. She looks to the crows circling. “October.”

It’s a fucking STORY. It’s not nuclear medicine, it’s not childbirth, it’s a story and a woman (one of three, three stories trying to be told in separate places) I cannot get out from under my fingernails and into the light. This is as close as her voice has come, as close as her stained hands can get to daylight, out from under my lungs and disappointment.

I think her name is Molly, but I’m not sure. Her other selves were too weak, too brash, too echoed. She will search for home, for love, for peace. She won’t know why, or how, but she will search.

If I can wash her from me.


I am so fucking clogged.

I can write the fiction. I know I can. But it gets stuck, or the clock shows 1am and I’m tired or there’s yet another question from a kid or a job to be done, laundry to fold, something to clean, and the simple pleasure of coloring in the world in my head? It doesn’t pay the bills or feed anyone and so Molly gets crammed into the back to wait. When the time comes, when I have 5 minutes to dash together, or an hour, she pouts like a fucker in the corner and refuses to talk to me, to tell me why she needs to travel across country to find her likely dead, or why she’d only wear heavy leather boots and refuse to cut her hair despite lice and filth. She won’t talk to me, like a petulant child, all wiry, flashing eyes and a bit of pudge which won’t last forever, not if she needs to walk and survive.

She will not move.

She has a daughter, and a lover, gone, a silvery whisper in air grown clean again. She has a ring on a finger and marks on her belly to prove they were, and a voice she can no longer sing with.

She will not speak.

Her hands will become calloused, her hand formed to the knives she will find she needs to carry. Her heart will grow over, five times, covered in moss and stone.

She will not let me be.

She will not leave me.


How do you then, writers? How do you find these people, in the silences of minutes, in a world of so much noise-how do you give them space? I find myself breathing her in all day and when I sit to let her loose, I cannot shake her from me.



6 Responses to “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

  1. karengreeners December 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    I get stuck too. The words feel heavy, labourious, stuck in a muddy pit. Maybe the characters, vivid as they are in your imagination, are just not quite ready to live on the page.
    (Also, not sure about the comma in the first sentence. I’m not only a writer, I’m also an editor 😉

  2. Deer Baby December 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    Wow! With an opening like that, I’m agog to hear more. You know you can do it. I know you can do it. I think she is ready to live on the page.

    I’m always moaning I have no time, that it’s squeezed out by other mundane duties that I find myself resenting, and then when I do find myself with a stretch of time,like clear water, (usually at night when they’re all asleep or early in the morning when the house is quiet, inspiration evaporates. I’m not sure a clear stretch of time is the solution.

    I’m learning to just snatch time. Steal it from other times. I carry a notebook because it strikes in the supermarket, or when I’m chopping onions.

    Please carry on. I’m sure she will stop being so elusive soon.

  3. Neil December 7, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    No advice. But it sounds good whatever you are coming up with.

  4. Jennifer December 7, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    Sounds good actually.

    Maybe just write and write and write just to get something down. Are you waiting for the perfect words? I’ve heard it comes in a flow.

  5. Stephanie December 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    The presumption is that you’re supposed to let her loose. Maybe you’re supposed to be experiencing her and letting her invade your thoughts so you hear everything she has to say. Maybe that’s why (and this is what I think you’re saying; I admit I’m not clear on it) you’re consumed by her until the moment you sit to write. Maybe you have the character but the story isn’t the story you’re going to tell.

    One suggestion is to go further into her. I do this kind of thing as I’m going to sleep at night (I find it relaxing; I’m weird that way). Try out conversations, situations, etc. They don’t have to be related to the story. What happens when Mollie goes to a bookstore? Does she get a coffee first? Does she head straight to the biography section and, if so, why? Does she buy and leave or does she sit in an over-sized chair and read but never buy? How about the grocery store? Does she follow the flow of traffic or do her cold/frozen shopping last? When she gets dressed, is she sock-sock-shoe-shoe or sock-shoe-sock-shoe? It might sound stupid or silly but she’s obviously wanting to show you something. Go with her. When you sit to write, have her write a letter or a blog entry instead of you writing her story. If you’re writing third person, try first. If you’re in past tense, try present.

    You should also ask this question at Toasted Cheese. We could use a new discussion:

  6. Debbie Bariquit December 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    As I sit and read through this, I’m crying, or at least those feel like drops of tears stinging my cheeks. It’s hauntingly familiar. I’m not sure if Molly is fictitious, or if she’s the voice of yourself silently screaming to be heard. I suppose it’s not important. What is important is that you touched too close to home, because Molly is with me also, but her name is Debbie. I’ve had writing battles with her, so much so that megabytes of manuscripts which should collectively total some semblance of a novel. But what I’m finding is that as Debbie cries or sometimes even screams in her silence, prompting me to immediately pound out her words onto my laptop, or write them out on any napkin or piece of paper I can find, Debbie becomes more whole, more balanced. Maybe she’s the one who’s not meant to be sold in a publication, but rather walk with me silently until I leave this earth. I’m not sure. Wish I could figure it out!

    In short, thank you for letting me know there’s a Molly, or a Debbie, out there in your world too. I’d be interested to see if our stories walk on parallel paths.

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