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BLOG OF RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL
Watch me talk about my debut as an author, Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays, in this Q&A with my publisher Thought Catalog Books

Saturday, March 17, 2012

human is better than robot

I have been pushing myself lately to write the things I don't necessarily want to write, but that haunt me when I don't write them. I was asked by an interviewer about the connections between the various work I do, the fiction and the nonfiction and the editing and though this was two days ago my answer has already become a big hazy in my mind, but I think I said that it is all about exploring aspects of sexuality and getting at the heart of what sex means. And yet, of course it's complicated, like life. I am not even sure where to begin, and maybe, in this time of looking at subjectivity and kinds of truths and retraction, a subject I maybe know a teensy bit about, where I should be going is not to a blog but to a book, a fictional one that will allow me to say what I want in a way that is honest and open yet grants me greater freedom than I would otherwise have. I had a wicked, somewhat sickening deja vu moment yesterday that made me realize that by not writing about those sickening moments, I do myself a disservice, and at the very least, deprive myself of the ability to laugh at the outrageous ironies my life presents sometimes. Truth may indeed be stranger (and harsher) than fiction, but fiction is also a tool I want to use, and in this case, need to use. I know it will help me exorcise those sickening moments, parlay them into entertainment, catharsis, instead of simply telling you how much I hate some girl who I used to be jealous of.

When I was in Hawaii, one of my editors told me not to be afraid to be voice-y with a piece I was writing. At the time I didn't really think much about it; I wrote the piece and approved edits and soon it will be on newsstands everywhere. But that idea of voice, and modulating our writing voices to fit certain audiences, has stayed with me, perhaps because, whether it benefits my writing or not, I almost always use my voice. Sometimes it upsets or unnerves people, it's too true, too real, too not nice. Sometimes it unnerves me, too, because the truth is ugly, often. It's not so much that I like baring myself at my most depraved, what goes into my body or through my mind, but more that when I don't let those dark experiences out, they eat away at me. They remind me that I am capable of going there, that my instinctive self-destructive mode is the default when I fear the words. I feel like I'm in some cycle, of what, I'm not sure, but it's been an extended one that has not quite faded out. I will be better, then worse, better, then worse. It will only better when I get centered, whole, detached in a way I pretend to be but my dreams, those subconscious consciences, remind me I'm not, yet.

I don't know what the answer is except that it is never and can never be to silence myself. I tried that, I apologized for using my words, which is something I regret. I forgot that I have the right to both my feelings and my words no matter how not nice they are; unless I'm threatening someone, I am entitled to that, and I'm sure that not niceness will wend its way into the piece I want to write. Sometimes I fear that if I don't get it out on the page it actually will incite me to act in ways I would not be proud of, but, I have to remind myself of something I wrote in an email, which is that "human is better than robot." I don't always like my humanity, my imperfections, my flaws, fears, hate, jealousy, self-sabotage, etc. There are long stretches when I have trouble finding anything to like, though thankfully, of late they are shorter and shorter. I worry sometimes that relationships are a crutch, a shorthand, a too-easy, too-temporary way out of that dilemma, a way to reboot myself out of those dark stretches by believing in what someone else thinks of me, and if I learned anything from 2011, it's that I have to rely on myself, first, last, always. That is something I am trying to do, one day at a time, and always, the words help. It's not simply, or even primarily, about controlling the message, but explaining it to myself, understanding it, not prettying it up because it sounds better or I want someone to like me or any other vapid justification for skimping on the self-reflection that what I do now demands.

I would say more, but I don't know where that line is, not a legal one, not even a moral or ethical one, but a safe one, one where I could say all those truths that haunt me and feel at peace. Well, I know that line isn't in this format. But there is a format, and I will find it, because clearly the urge to make sense of it in story form is not going away, and probably never will.

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