Sunday, February 13, 2011

Writer's Cramps

Writer's Cramps.

Snow yet on the ground and frostbitten cheeks, conditions seem propitious for writing the novel, my novel, this voice which feeds ideas beneath earthly concerns. Reviews credit the work, but the personal appreciation of the ways of a wordsmith delve deeper into the art itself. So allow me to slide from this lofty perch to a lower branch where i may feel a bit more comfortable.

Writers are often isolated beings, i was an only child, an undesired one, a girl child in a land of paternal lineage rights. Two options soon became apparent to the precocious ballast bundle of pale flesh. One: mimic the environment to fit in. Two: shut up and be cute. In France, the average length of forgivable cuteness was about four years, soon expectations do rise above one's head.

Adaptation became necessity, from relative to relative, from the butcher at the corner to Mother Superior, i slid into useful roles with plenty of time to observe both urban and rural surroundings. Lessons beyond the Latin instruction prepared me for hardship. By the time i emerged from formal schooling, i already had a full book of poetry in my secret satchel.

By age ten, my Mother had declared that she could no longer understand my French language, my normal range of discourse had surpassed even my instructors, i was wedged between the role of teacher's pet and student bane. Appreciated, yet unwanted. Work was the only reliable outlet.

Not being allowed to have friends, i entertained my brain with languages to escape my parent's world, or philosophy, to impress my much older classmates. Upon graduating very early, i discovered that my mother had made plans to –sell me-- to a noble family as a governess. This was to remain a total secret for legal and personal reasons. Father was told that i had found a better alternative to lazy college education.

I first asked to publish my book of lyrical prose and poetry. There is a picture of my mother indelibly imprinted upon my mind. She stands above me as i rake the ashes of the manuscript, making sure that not one word, not one particle is detectable in the flowerbed where she had ceremoniously handed me the one match to put an end to-- “this nonsense...what would your father say if i told him what you have been wasting your time on all these years?”.

In one gesture i had lost a whole being, my sole refuge carved out of loneliness. I was ashes in the dirt, landscaped into oblivion once more; literary hara-kiri. Tearless and stoic, i temporarily lost my voice rather than rebuke.

Not yet fifteen, i worked with diligence and on my only partial day off per week, i rode the train to the nearest university and audited one class, soon i was writing several term papers for failing students, for books only. Then i became the cafe terrasse 'objet de curiosite'. People rode and walked long to hear what they called my witty repartee. Entertainment for expresso, i missed my calling. I had discovered an audience who understood, yet could not quite follow the vertiginous twists of my Thursday madness.

Prized servant which I was, appreciated for my polyglot skills, for me, life was the hallway to sunshine, a grand foyer of expectations which would lead to artistic evolution. Hands tied, mind alive, i knew of greatness beyond reality. Grand mother's flocks had taught me contained freedom, city dogs had shown me how to disappear. I ran away from indentured service and married a foreigner. I knew more English than most native speakers after a few months.

Once again isolated, this time, in the American desert, i began to write in English. By then i had almost forgotten my mother tongue and every other language which i had once learned or spoken. Adventure and travail had consumed my energies to channel them into emotional exile. The pen hovered over the blank space as if magnetized yet inert, reticent. No word lining up in a coherent french phrase, although I wrote a perfunctory letter to my parents every Thursday. Creativity dried up as a useless appendage.

A column here, a poem elsewhere, i felt my way through whichever literary outlets i could access from rudimentary means. Whether in France or stateside, i found people to be attracted to that edge over which i see the other side. I no longer dwelt in the abyss, i peered intentionally into it to transmit the incongruous visions to most willing recipients.

Long gone the knowledge, ballast over the ocean that separates me from myself. Long discarded the burden of importance and place. This nomad scribe has achieved amused detachment. Remains a duty to readers, including myself, a vague morality which dictates outrage and fuels rants.

In the culling of fact and performance, there is form and texture, this may be what the reader gleans and enjoys as a reflection of his own memory. Technology has afforded us a separate dimension, whereby the author receives purer response to his art, than if face and voice were interfering with the words. I may again be that child of expression with mordant pen and lazy wit.

Words, the etched logos on the tablet of this, our time, solid, absorbed into the psyche with no other trouble than the present and its moods. Humble? Bah! Not yet, i have only been out there, on that web for a short while, so i plan to enjoy this a little longer before i decide to work at a really professional, literary oeuvre. It's back there, fomenting, fermenting, can you hear it?

1 comment:

  1. Nadine: Your voice returns to draw tears and ghosts from ashes and precious, burned words; your writing is poignant and wonderful and touches the heart, --and yes, ordinary words are indeed enchanting as you elevate them to the stars...