“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury
From time to time, I write to a particular agent in Jerusalem to check if she’s still alive, and if she’s still waiting for my book(s).
She writes me back within a few minutes. In my mind, she’s sitting there, tense over her computer, in complete readiness to spring forward into the world with my books. It’s childish and vain, but there it is: this vision of an agent who, like Miss Havisham, wears a cobweb veil, waiting for The Day, is the only thing that keeps me writing, on the more difficult days.
I try on first sentences like I’m searching for a wedding gown; I cry with the pain of it, sometimes, when it’s beautiful, which sounds arrogant but I believe it’s simply growing pains…
not really. Let’s be honest.
Beauty, a particular ache of perfection that hints at something vastly magnificent that we can’t ever quite grasp, has always made me cry. It’s in certain musical intervals. It’s in the reaching of a dancer’s leap. I even tasted it in a beer, once, on a hot day in Cambridge with the memory of the Bridge of Sighs lingering with the bitter sharp cool wetness of beer and river on my tongue.
I never cry when blocked- that’s a horrible dull numbness, searching the unchanging dense foliage, pushing with aching fingers at the gate, longing for a pathway back into the seductive, dangerous, sometimes incomprehensible forest that has wildly overtaken my life. I feel in dizzy in love, some days. Other days, it’s Duty, and a coiled urgency in my belly tells me I am writing too slowly.
I don’t talk to anyone about it. I have a superstitious fear that I would talk out my books, and they would no longer need to be given life.
I could not write when I was lying to myself, insisting I was happy in a relationship in which I didn’t feel safe, understood, valued or adored. The words (my soul, really – my life force – my heart beats between the covers of so many books) deserted me, disgusted with my betrayal of self.
When I finally faced the truth and left, the words burst through the gate, yapping, leaping around me, licking my face, wagging their tails so hard their furry butts wagged too. I fell down under them- covered with glorious, panting, dog-breath laughing, stiff-pawed, floppy-eared, roll-around-on-their-backs-waving-their-paws-in-the-air words. My heart bursts with the reunion. About 1/3 of myself – I sobbed in relief. I wept with remorse that I hadn’t known so much of me was locked away; I only knew an awful numbness, an endless barren ache of longing and self-hatred.
My hands no longer shake; I no longer feel afraid, now that I’m whole again. What the heck was I doing in my moldering wedding veil, waiting for someone else’s approval for my life, self and work to be astounding? Waiting for someone else’s permission to shine – just because they said they loved me? Stifling a third of myself in order to fit with what someone else desired?
While an agent who has never met me in person but only knows my words waits for years with incredible, steadfast belief in my work.
The writing is writing me, now – it’s creating my life. I no longer force or strain. It flows like the River Cam under the Bridge of Sighs. This is my marriage – a true marriage of soul to the soul’s purpose. I have dug myself so deep into these books, there’s no returning –
This is just to say: we have this life here – right now. What is the purpose of fear and hiding? What if we each had the trust and love in our Mad Creator, the Artist Formerly Known as God (or Life Force or Breathing or Time or Shakespeare or multiple Creators, whatever it is that makes you tick)
To be our weird, incredible selves that are works of Live Performance Art and damn what other people think, be wide open to them anyway and let them criticize if they must (which is a great detox, when they show off the furniture of their minds, likely mass-produced at Ikea, and weed themselves Out of our unique cottage, mansion, mausoleum, hobbit-houses) love us if they Get It, and basically have their own experience? What if?
I think that is what we’re here for. That’s what love means.
It means valuing so much what we have to give, that we give it to ourselves, too.
It means trusting in our own strength enough that we no longer silence ourselves.
It means believing in the power of Love enough that we endure any kind of ridicule for not fitting in, so that we might bravely shine our lives because somebody else might need a candle in the dark sameness, to be inspired to let their own shine forth –
It means to not stay around arguing with those who do not understand us, to not let those cobwebs of Expectation, the veil society mundanely dreamed for us, dull our senses, blot out our purpose –
It seems like far too many glorious people shrink themselves for fear of criticism.
It’s time for a Revolution of outrageous, courageous, radical self-esteem. Because I want to see your weird soul colors, friends. I’m selfish like that. I want to see ’em shine. Open the floodgates. Let the dogs out. Write those songs. Weave the poetry. Paint the fucking walls in legends and fairytale colors. Burn that wedding veil. Smash the cake. Stop waiting to live. It’s here now – it’s time.
I’m arrogant enough tonight to proclaim this, to anyone who reads this far.
With the luscious Capricorn moon singing in my veins of letting go, closure, healing, release and rebirth, I set my veil on fire.
Not waiting any more for it to finally be safe to be myself. Not shrinking myself so another person will approve and “love” me.
I owe it to the words. I never want them locked up again. It was far too painful.
(The agent who waits, believing in my magnificence…God bless her. I’ll send her cake.)
If Miss Havisham had had enough courage, generosity of heart and love for the world and her own weirdness to throw that wedding cake AWAY, set fire to her white clothing, dance with gratitude that the groom left her, she could have spun, with her life, a masterpiece. (instead, she lives in one, immortalized in cobwebs. Let’s not share her fate…)