fiction is as fiction does

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (well, Kansas) I thought I had to suffer to make art.

I wrote my first book in the summer after 7th grade. I'd been tormented all that year by Lisa, an ugly, colossal bitch with perpetual Hermione Hair. I had maybe one friend I could call my own. I had cousins come to visit, and frankly (sorry, guys!) they weren't much better than Lisa. Jr High, you know. Little bastards, us all.

So I immersed myself in a made-up world with distinct similarities to the Tulsa world of THE OUTSIDERS, writing thinly-veiled, very early fanfic until the wee hours of the morning. I still own the book. It's the first book I ever started and the first book I ever finished.  I credit that book for giving me confidence to finish stuff before it ever occurred to me not to finish stuff.

Anyway, fast forward to college. I took a creative writing class, wrote a little piece called "Snowangels" (still unsold) and the teacher was so impressed he asked me to jump up and take a GRADUATE class.

Big mistake.

I was out of my league with the angsty, political, wine-swilling, pipe-smoking, literary writers.  They were, like way older than me, man. Plus, their stuff was crap. Since this was nigh on 25 years ago, I feel comfortable mentioning one scene that stands out. It was a shower sex scene and a drunk guy was back-hatching some chick with bacne, and while everyone else was ruminating on meaning and symbolism all I could think was gross, why would you have sex with someone like that, much less force someone else to watch it via your purple prose?

Worse, though, I got a boyfriend.

I got happy and I stopped writing.

And so I thought I was happy and so I couldn't write because one requires angst to write. I thought that for a long time. Years.

What bullshit.

What happened was I got me a boyfriend (to become my husband) who was accepted like I'd never been. He was normal. My mom liked him. He got on with my brothers. He was in a fraternity and he opened the door on the car for me. He came from a good family. Etc.  (It was all an act, thank God.)

But at the time, I adapted to being accepted with great relief.

And when you're one of the gang, well, one of a certain kind of gang, you can't write. Writing isn't a part of that crowd. Fuck, thinking isn't a part of that crowd (of which we have a sizable contingent in my neighborhood).

Since then, I realized happiness has nothing to do with it. I'm simply supposed to be on the outside looking in, always, to some degree. Isn't that, after all, what fiction does?


Michael Malone said...

Fascinating reading. Parts of which I recognise. Like, why is it on a night out I always feel like the one on the farside of all of the conversations and why is it that when I'm in a relationship I write nothing and when I'm not I can write up a storm?

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Normal can be very distracting.

Bernita said...

"Normal can be very distracting."
That is a true thought.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I've found there is actually no normal at all...everyone has a little strange in them. Some just hide it better.

Glad you're back at the keyboard. Good stuff.

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

Hide it better. Exactly. I have no ability to hide my weird.

Thanks for dropping in. :)