Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Writer’s Tourette’s, Also Known as Word Vomit

“You write like I talk,” he said.

He is a now long-gone ex-boyfriend, who had to get used to getting emails from me instead of having face-to-face conversations about whatever was bothering me about our relationship, or important things that I needed to tell him in general. The subject of each of those emails to him was “Verbal Diarrhea Part [X.]”

The last email I wrote to him – that I wrote but did not send – was called “Last of Verbal Diarrhea,” and never made it farther than my writing folder.

When he said that I wrote like he talked, he meant that I could say things in writing that I could not say out loud – and that many times, there were things written there that I wish I could take back, but some part of me refused to edit and rewrite, because writing that email was the most authentic thing I could do. If he couldn’t take back hurtful things he said to me in the heat of the moment, I sure as hell wasn’t going to censor myself in my emails to him…even if I often went back and corrected the grammar.

I am a writer. I write every day, for my own good, for my own sanity, and my own peace of mind, but even if I didn’t, I would still be a writer, because regardless of what is happening to me I find myself trying to find the words for it in my head; to best describe it; to best apply prose to my feelings, thoughts, emotions and adventures.

This sometimes gets me in trouble. Aside from my need to write, I have a need to write OUT LOUD: to an audience, so someone can hear me, read me, know that there is a part of me that fits best into the words that I have just strung together in a sentence, that may be prosaic and painful, but goddamit, so is the feeling I just had.

It has to come out or it rots. Yes, there is some part of me that wants to share my story so that it can possibly help others to know that they are not alone, but that part seems to be shrinking by the day, leading me to become more and more hesitant about wanting to publish the book I came to Panama to write. It is so personal, so vulnerable, and cuts so deeply through the muscle, the bones, the very marrow of who I am, that I am afraid to show it. I am afraid that people will think that I have not only lost my mind, but that I will never get it back – that if I have felt as low, stuck and depressed as I was during the time I was writing about, it means I will always feel that way. The first writing that lasted in society was written in stone, and it seems that that is the impression: that I took a feeling, painted it with words and stuck it up on the wall, and the people who came to look are looking at a single, raw moment in time, and mistaking it for a long term state of being.

I write because it is the easiest way to clear an emotion. If I am angry and I write about it as if I were tearing the flesh off of someone, the act of creating those flesh-tearing sentences eases my anger. If I feel alone and adrift in a sea of nothing and I can describe that in terms of an ocean of tears below me, I suddenly find that there’s a life raft; that I am no longer drowning but buoyed. If I write about my happiness in terms of the sparkling starlight and standing naked in the full moon, I may or may not have actually been naked, but I was happy nonetheless.

It is not transient, this writing. Even as my emotions flee in front of me as my pen meets paper or my fingers clatter over the keyboard, the words stay, and they are bigger there; they do not dissipate into thin air like my ex-boyfriend’s sometimes hurtful speech, with only the ability to paraphrase later, depending on what I did or didn't want to hear and what he did or didn't want to say.

Do I feel more deeply because I’m a writer, or do I write because I feel deeply? I don’t know. All I know is that the best way for me to let go is to hold on: to grip the pen, put it to the page, and let the ink tell my story. Once it’s out, I have to push send. Not because I am seeking redemption, approval, or even to help someone. It’s because – much like an artist friend says about her work – my writing just happened. It often doesn’t feel like something I could have consciously produced, more like something I stood aside to let my unconscious unleash. When that’s the case, I don’t really feel like I own it anymore: the writings are not mine, and neither are the feelings that sparked them. If it’s not mine, I don’t own it, and I have to let it go. Like a songwriter, a painter, a sculptor or a child throwing a tantrum, sometimes the best, most healing, cathartic and authentic thing you can do is share what it is, because even if it started out as yours, the only way to prevent the rot is to let it out into the light, wishing it well as it floats away.

Love and writer-freed emotions,


  1. You are, more honest in your writing than I could ever hope to be. You are, as you say, a writer.

    1. Thank you Candice. It's taken me until now to say it, but I've been coming back and looking at your comment since you wrote it; it is comforting and helpful to know. :)

  2. Oh, yes! You say this penchant for writing out loud sometimes gets you in trouble... I marvel at the vivid range of places it takes you, from trouble to ...glory? Fiery passion? Authenticity? I'm not sure exactly how to describe where, but I know it has gotten you far (And besides, I can't wait to read your descriptions of where). More, please?