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taking our hurt & writing for catharsis.

December 12, 2010

a secret?

i have always wanted one of two things – someone to draw me (sketch me, i don’t care about the medium) or someone to write a poem about me.

i am completely aware that this comes from a place of utter egoism, and i’m alright with that. but it also comes from a place of curiosity – to see how others see me, to see how other artists work and how they write or how they draw. deep down, i’m a very shy person. i have jags where i directly express what i want, but i’m not necessarily a brave person on a day to day basis. but i want to see what other people see when they see me. i tend to think i am a little chimerical – that i can come across as brassy and honest and ballbusting and borderline cruel, maybe acidic, maybe a bit of a verbal bully, but i know that truly, inside, that isn’t me. i wonder if anyone will ever capture that duality on paper, whether it be writing or charcoal or pencils or computer or what have you.

so there. that is my want. i have just told you what i want people to write about me. maybe it is a romanticized thing that i have in my head, this belief that being with a writer or an artist will result in beautiful, creative things, beautiful and creative poetry. the truth is this: that being with somebody and then writing about them can become vengeful and whip-cruel and the ultimate form of catharsis or release.

we all do it, this writing for release.


this is a pretty hot topic, ever since that baby taylor swift awkwardly picked up her frigging guitar and told the world that if they dated her, she was going to write a song about them. fair enough i suppose. because she is a song writer, and i (we) are writers of just the writing variety.

so the question must be this.

for a writer: what becomes sacred?

and i guess the answer is: well – nothing.

i catalogue things – embarrassing things, beautiful things, tender things, violent things – about people. i do this for friends, but (let’s face it) most people are most interested in writing intensely about their lovers or their partners or their wives and husbands.

i suppose my rules are as follows: if i believe that i am going to write a good story, a good poem, something solid and shocking and lovely, nothing about you or your attributes becomes hallowed. everything becomes fair game – erectile dysfunction, the way you bite your cuticles, the colour of your eyelashes, the way you smell in the morning, the taste of your collarbone – the way you laugh, the way you hold your bingo-dotter, the way you dance, the way we drink gin together, the way the tip of your tongue feels. yeah – it’s probably not what anybody wants to hear, but it’s true.

this is very hard, because as a person who treasures their friends, i don’t want to lose any of them. i don’t necessarily want to be offensive, though i have discussed writing offensively before. (sometimes being offensive is totally okay.) but sometimes a person has a trait or a feature or a flaw that i absolutely, absolutely need to take and use and subvert and put into my writing, with or without their permission. and that is where it gets really kind of dangerous.

but there are levels to my writing, and this is where being a writer scorned is a powerful thing, and where being with or dating or being friends with a writer can be a scary thing. the direst level of my “revenge writing” or whatever you want to call it is as follows: if you have seriously, seriously wronged me, i will identify you by name, unashamedly. i may be a somewhat dramatic girl in day to day life, but when i’ve settled down at my computer, i’m not malicious. i’m not a cruel person. (i’m honest. there’s a difference.) i don’t want to wrong anybody to the point of serious upset – unless you’ve deserved it. there are really only one or two people who have warranted this treatment – and i truly don’t hold back when it comes to them. and some of my most spirited poems have come from this.

if you date a writer – if you have sex with a writer – if you fool around with a writer – if you are friends with a writer – if you travel with a writer – everything is fodder. it’s sad to say, because often we (writers) breach boundaries that were not meant to be breached. if i want to include a friend or a lover in a poem or piece of writing, i do try to alter them – just a tiny bit – so that they aren’t immediately identifiable.

but i think the main risk comes from becoming romantically involved with a writer. they say that there is nothing like a woman scorned, but that is not true. there is nothing like a writer scorned, and i have, unfortunately, flagellated men who have done me wrong – in my writing. it’s rare that i end up doing this face to face, so (often) the page is my place to let loose.

there are a few things that really warrant a tongue-lashing poem, the kind of poem that makes the reader gasp because they know it is about them:

– if you take advantage of me.
– if you abuse my friendship, my kindness, my trusting nature.
– if you manipulate me – sexually, emotionally.
– if you have hit me.
– if you are cruel to me.
– if you are not faithful to me.
– if you betray my trust.
– if you have an oedipus complex.

maybe i should come with a disclaimer. something like “watch what you say. watch what you do. if i find you beautiful or cruel or inappropriate or awful or wonderful i will write about you. i will write and write and write about you.” sometimes this writing is a manner of flattery. sometimes it is not.

but it’s not always negative, see. sometimes there are wonderful things to be written about and to be immortalized in a piece of writing is so lovely and so beautiful. and it can be one of the most flattering things, to see oneself laid out on a page like that. it’s a rush, and an ego trip.

also, i can’t help if sometimes it’s only negative things that are written about. i am driven by emotion and by writing about emotion, and sometimes the emotion that most makes you move, that most makes you pick up a pen, that most makes you want to crawl into your bed and never come out – sometimes that is negative.

i’ve been hurt as all others have been hurt. there is nothing particularly special about my hurt. i have been so torn that i couldn’t eat solid foods for days, that i had to draw all my blinds and lock my doors and put in ear plugs and turn off every single light and lie in bed from 5 pm till the next morning. i’ve been so upset that i’ve punched a man, split his lip, drew blood in front of all of my friends. i’ve been so hurt that i lay on the stairs and screamed into a phone at the top of my lungs as my housemate braced my knees. but writing has always helped that. and that is how i can turn my mediocre hurt into something spectacular.

it’s a slippery slope, this. and i hope to never unnecessarily hurt somebody. and maybe my rules will change. i’m not sure if i need a disclaimer, though.


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