I began writing on Monday with this prompt. It was the idea that we're all constantly feeding ourselves a narrative of who we are and who we choose to present to the world. Immediately, the song The Best Imitation of Myself by Ben Folds Five popped in my head. I started thinking about how we withhold parts of ourselves from people and even from ourselves sometimes. I just let whatever popped up first pop up and I followed that train of thought to my sixth grade year in a hellish public school that more closely resembled a prison. I'm not being dramatic. I'm talking two police officers per hallway (six in total), a fifteen foot razor wire perimeter fence making the only accessible entrance the front doors, and just a general atmosphere of just trying to keep kids from killing each other and not giving a shit about them above that. Or at least that was my experience. My parents seemed to agree enough to put me in private school the following year. My experience there was just as alienating, but not nearly as ruthlessly cruel.
That's what has poured out for the past two days. All my experiences of being judged and seen as unworthy by others for whatever reasons they felt like finding. My clinging to life and finding inspiration in the most unlikely places. Or maybe they were obvious. In hindsight, they seem to be. But that's what hindsight is all about. I started straying somewhere around 4100 words. I was getting scattered, losing the focus of the essay. I was trying to tell how I picked up various values throughout my life and got caught up in just describing experiences. Not tying them back to a theme. Not telling them with a purpose just telling them to tell them. I know as I edit, I can create that depth and I need to just keep moving forward. Or maybe I need to edit the essays separately. Not treat it as a whole manuscript, but as installments that need to be finished enough to stand on their own. That's what I imagine the memoir to be anyway: a collection of essays. So maybe here is where I pause, go back, read, edit, add depth, remove frivolous tangents that were explored for the sake of word counts, then find my next theme and start the second essay. Chapter 2. Wash, rinse, repeat.
The point is, I'm writing. And I'm writing with purpose again for the first time in a very long time. And it's a purpose that gives all my previous unpurposeful writings purpose... if that makes any sense at all. Meaning all the 750words entries and blog posts over the past ten years are going to serve as research material for the stories I was telling at those times in my life. I've got a box full of angsty poetry and letters to my best friend in high school and a drawer full of journals. I've been writing research material for this book for years. And with every theme explored, I'm dredging up old baggage, facing it, and throwing it away. This thing is all about moving on.