“What Would You Write About?”

One of my favorite compliments was from a friend at Antioch College who said that he loved the way that I wrote and that my style of writing reminded him of Allen Ginsberg. I was shy about sharing my writing and had crippling low self esteem. I never imagined that I would ever write more than a few poems or memoirs because it takes courage and confidence to be an artist, to create and know that your creations have worth and meaning. Even now as I consider the last four years with a man who I could have loved forever, after ending an engagement to be married and moving home with whirlwind, lightning speed, following a hellish fight. It felt like my life was as shattered as the glass that I had broken around us. A month later, as I sit, ever humbled in my childhood bedroom I can still hear him say arrogantly, “What would you have to write about?”

I laughed it off, but those words haunted me. They haunt me still. One of my favorite poems in my formative years was, “As I Walked Out One Evening” by W.H. Auden. I must have read it a thousand times, especially the excerpt below.

“The years shall run like rabbits,
 For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
 And the first love of the world.'

But all the clocks in the city
 Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
 You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
 Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
 And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry
 Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
 To-morrow or to-day.

I fell in love with the written word through poetry and later longed to write with the intensity of Ernest Hemingway. I always felt that he could cut to the heart of what he wanted to say, with surgical precision. Instead, I pursued a career as a documentary filmmaker. For a time I thought that media would be my mode of story-telling, preferring to interview and edit the words of others. And, then there was a period as vast and dark as “The Nothing” in the Never Ending Story, where I could barely live, much less create. Strangely enough once I was happy and secure, it was harder than ever to tap into any creative projects. Tonight, as my hopes and dreams lay broken around me, once again I feel something stir in my soul. The illusions of the life that I once thought I would live has fallen to pieces and what is left is all that is the darker side of life, the stark, unyielding, cold truth of reality. I have been here before, but I was a different person, then. There is a war in my mind, but where hope is gone, strength remains.

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