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Lusty Lady

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dear Writing, a love/hate letter

Dear Writing,

I miss you. I miss the way you used to make me feel, all warm and fuzzy. I loved to hate you, because I was always just kidding. I’d complain about you but then seek solace in your arms. You could make me feel better, always. Until, well, you couldn’t. Or I wasn’t sure of that and that not being sure has made me not even try.

Back then, whenever that was because it seems so long ago I don’t even remember, I knew you’d be there for me even in the moments, like now, when you’re the last thing I want to deal with, and the one thing I must. But lately I don’t even know what kind of relationship, if any, we have. I don’t know if I love you or if that’s just a foolishly romantic notion because I want to love you, because we’re stuck with each other.

I don’t know which kind of ex you remind me of. The one I not-so-secretly still think about, whose very name sends chills up my spine, who if we chance to meet makes my heart pound? Well, kindof, except that you I see way more frequently. Or are you like a crush, where I’m all giddy about you for a few minutes or hours or days or weeks, then you fade into oblivion once I realize you don’t really like me like that?

I miss the way we used to just flow, like you were just inside me waiting to get out. The piece I’m going to read at In The Flesh was like that, almost like the event in question happened so it could be written about. Yet I also know that the story goes on even after my story ends, and that worries me too. It’s like I want to present myself in the best possible light and if I can’t be 100% sure I’m doing that, I turn my back on you.

I spend all my days with books trying to disappear - oh, how I wish to write something someday in my life half as meaningful as Elizabeth Elmore’s lyrics. But I also know that I can only take inspiration from Elizabeth and Mary Lou, as much for the beauty of their words as their example. Or whoever, however. (I don’t think it was just random that I heard that Alanis Morrisette “Thank You” song today with that how bout unabashedly bawling my eyes out line.)

I remember and sometimes still have visions of the beauty we can create. When we just get it right, creating work that doesn’t make me cringe. I know I keep pushing you away, even when you invade my head and demand to be dealt with. I tell myself “later,” that I’ll remember those sentences you whisper so seductively. And I wonder how much beauty and money are connected. Or rather, I feel a disproportionate sense of dread the more money I’m paid for you. I’m a terrible whore/businesswoman/whatever. I know that part of it is not thinking I deserve it, but it’s also that I love and will always love what we create out of simply wanting to do it, for no reason beyond that.

I miss waking up and wanting you so badly, wanting to run to you and dance with you and work together. I miss using you to figure me out. I miss those moments when everything just clicks. Instead, I sleep. Or email. Or blog. Oh, evil evil blogging.

I really don’t think of myself as an exhibitionist. Some may differ on this, but with you even more than with sex, it’s become a bit of an issue. With so many people watching us, how can I pretend they don’t exist? How can I go where I need to go with you and keep what we have pure and solid when it’s not just about us? Don't worry; those are just rhetorical questions. I don't expect a response because that part I have to find a way to handle. It's ironic, kinda, because don't we want an audience? Isn't that the whole point? And yet the more of one I have, the more nervous I get, weighing every word until none will do.

Are we codependent? Because I’ve been thinking a lot about codependency lately, what it means, what it’s worth, whether there’s good kinds of codependency and bad kinds. It’s a tricky topic, like so many, and I get further bogged down. So if we are codependent, is that really so bad? I hope that there’s a reason I can’t quite get rid of you, despite my best efforts.

Last week I said I was having a Barbie moment while laboring over my first Radar piece and just said “Writing is hard.” And it is. And I wonder if I’d like you any better if you were easy? Because you have been, before, and maybe that’s why I left the way-too-hard world of the law for you, even if I didn’t know it at the time. I felt so stupid and out of place there, because I was, or at least, I couldn’t make myself go there. I was scared to fail, and I’m scared like that all over again. I keep wishing I had some fall-back plan, some other career or calling, but I don’t think I do. It’s you and me.

I was at a lunch and this girl said that she used to read my column in college and it gave her a sense of New Yorkness (my word, not hers). That was maybe just the ego boost I needed, but it also made me feel old. I struggle so hard not to feel like a failure as a sex writer. Will I always be just some dumb girl who once wrote a column for The Village Voice or is that just the voice in my head talking? I sometimes think everything would be okay if I could just score another column, then sometimes wish I could evict the word sex from my vocabulary forever.

Because as much as I hate the hate mail like the one I got yesterday, as much as I know in my heart they are wrong, it gets to me. I hate the hiding, the feeling of never being quite normal. I just want to hide away somewhere and make babies, but I know that wouldn’t be the end. It couldn’t be. I don’t really want to get rid of you, I know that. Maybe I’m scared we’ll run amok and just go on and on forever, that I’ll never be able to get away from you. There are worse things, though.

Every book I read lately has death all over it. Moms who’ve committed suicide, grandparents dying, bad, sad stuff. Yet I’ve fallen in love with these books, with the way each author has taken their tragedy and made something of it. Not made something good necessarily, but something. I love those books and in an odd way, they make me miss you all the more, which sounds grandiose to me, because I’m no Trey Ellis or Rachel Shukert, but the toughest lesson about all of this is that I will never be anyone else other than me. And that sucks sometimes; I don’t want to be that person much of the time, yet I also know I have to figure out what it is about myself I don’t like and try to change that, or change my environment, and make better choices going forward. And I swear, I can’t do that without you.

I also saw an editor who pushed me to create a story that is not my best, but made it into an anthology, a very pretty waterproof one that I got paid very well for. I know I need people to kick my ass because I clearly can’t do it myself. I don’t want to be some temperamental prima donna, but at the same time, it literally feels like I cannot find my way back to you, like maybe we’re just done for good, we’re breaking up and I didn’t even get a warning or a chance to say goodbye. But I don’t think so.

So anyway, I miss you. Writing this, like so many other things I do and think about lately, is making me cry. The truth is, I miss you, but I’m scared. I’m scared to try and I’m scared to face the things that just don’t seem to come no matter how much I work on them. I cheat on you with other kinds of media which make me giddy in a different way.

But I don’t just miss you. I need you. I have no other "marketable skill" but even if I did, I'd still need you. And I want you to want me too. I don't just want to shove myself at you over and over until you give in. That's no fun. I want you to remember, too, the good times and the bad, and help me. I hope, maybe, in some small way, you need me too. A long time ago, after a particularly treacherous day, I was told that you and I are dating. If that’s the case, it’s been a very long on and off relationship. I don’t expect us to always get along swimmingly, really. I worry, though, that I’ve pushed you aside for so long that you’re not going to return to me, like that sappy “if you love something set it free” saying. I’m not setting you free though, not like this. I’m hiding you and not letting you make a sound, like a kidnapping, except I love you even when I don’t want to. I feel weak for even admitting this, but I’m kindof at the end of my rope. I need you to come back, keep me company, just sit with me silently even if you can’t be fully present.



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At May 15, 2008, Blogger Stacie Joy said...

Wow, Rachel, what a fantastic and poignant piece. This really resonated with me, and I want to thank you for sharing it.

See you tomorrow (along with your stellar lineup) at In the Flesh.

-- Stacie

At May 15, 2008, Blogger Alison Tyler said...

Absolutely. Stacie Joy took the words out of my mouth. (Aside from the "see you tomorrow" part. Although I *wish* that was true.)


At May 15, 2008, Blogger Kristina Wright said...

Thanks for sharing what I think most writers go through at some point-- or several points-- in their writing careers. It's damn hard being a writer. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But when it's working and the writing is good... well, you know.

Hang in there. It will come back.

At May 16, 2008, Blogger Nikki Magennis said...

Oh, yes! Thank you for saying/writing this, with such eloquence. I never thought of writing as a partner in a relationship before, but what a great way of looking at it.

At May 17, 2008, Blogger Craig Sorensen said...


Those feelings are so true and deep, but so hard to put into words. You did it magnificently.

Here's hoping that the pendulum swings back, but not too far, and that you can find some balance, like a strong relationship that has weathered the good and the bad.


At May 18, 2008, Anonymous Marla Lukofsky said...

I loved that piece of writing. It was gut wrenchingly honest. Something many of us aren't able to be. I am, but boy, ya pay for it in the end.
Marla L.


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