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missing blackflies.

December 5, 2012

see, the thing is this. life is a damn crapshoot. you’re bold or strident or caring or talented or loving or you take all the risks you can, and still it seems like things escape you just a little bit. i’m a fool (in the way that the fool is the fool in the tarot journey). it’s oofs and dammits over and over again – or at least it seems that way to me. the number of times i’ve sat shaking my head at things i’ve done or said – numberless. to infinity and beyond. midway to thirty, i have absolutely no idea about where i’m going. and this is a trope – i heard my older friends go through it, and i laughed at it (the quarter life crisis, as if!) – and it’s just thrashed to death, and i know that not everybody goes through it. but sometimes i just stand with my hands on my hips and go i’m nowhere near where i thought i’d be, get your crap together, maxymiw (not that where i “thought i’d be” is farther ahead or better than where i am now – i just feel remarkably adrift.)

things get kind of ferocious in the mid-twenties, which sounds like such a privileged and ridiculous comment to make, but it seems like every day i’m becoming startlingly more aware of things – of pain (of others). of sadness. sometimes i walk past someone and i can taste their sadness, i can feel how sad they are, and i realise that not everybody ends up happy and not everybody has the good ending. i’m starting to see detrimental effects of anxiety, depression (not just my own), to see how people can become tied in knots and never get undone, let their minds run roughshod over them. things just got kind of more serious all of a sudden. or maybe i’m just becoming more aware.

i’m also becoming acutely aware of the way my writing affects other people. as i write more and publish more, i lose more, too. (and this coming from someone who doesn’t have a  book deal. yet?) it’s not that i deem that it’s my job to observe and slice people to shreds – and i consciously attempt to never, ever do that, to never write something in malice or contempt or any pure state of emotion, most of all the all-powerful rage – but i often find that because i’m more of an introvert as the weeks pass, i step back and watch more than i used to. the things i write are now rooted in real life, whereas before there were a lot of poems about david bowie (i suppose he’s real, but barely). i want to write about the tenuous, weird emotion between people. i want to try to find new sides and corners to those cliches. i want to try and put the people i know onto paper, which seems like such a presumptuous and inappropriate act sometimes (because what if they don’t want to be put onto paper?) and i’ve started to lose friendships or relationships over those things i write and publish, and that is the hardest thing of all. i care so much about (most) people, whether i show it or not, and i care a lot about what other people think (not the best trait to have as a writer, perhaps).


regardless, the one thing that has – surprisingly – not suffered throughout this odd year of transition is my writing. how is that possible?

oh, because writing is reassuring. writing is the same thing that playing the clarinet used to be for me – or playing ringette, skating. any of the things that i felt good at. there is very little that i feel good at, but deep down i know that writing is something i’m good at. it was the same when i hit a string of runs with the right slurring when playing one of weber’s concertos, or when i completed a tricky backhanded passing drill on the ice. it seems to be, sometimes (when lucky), a moment in which you lose the pride, the shell, the anxiety, and in which you become solely yourself. no pretense. no crippling worries. no vicious, snarly mind. just concentration, the knowledge that you are okay at what you’re doing.

writing is reassuring, for me, because it remains static on the page until i choose to come back to it. non-fiction is now doubly reassuring because it’s a return to a place that was (often) a good place for me – for example, all the writing i’m doing about working up north two summers ago. while relationships have changed, entering back into that place via writing still feels like home. i can still sense all the intricacies of the land, the way a cedar fire smells, the tricky way blackfly bites bleed (!). i have a little control over my writing. (sometimes). if it’s fiction, i can move my characters around the page. if it’s non fiction, i can relive happy moments – or i can explore and relive unhappy moments in a safe space. if it’s poetry, i can let myself explode a little.


free! wild! blackflies! i'm wearing splash pants!!!

free! wild! blackflies! i’m wearing splash pants!!!


this all sounds perhaps very pretentious or exhausting, and i suppose it is. but at the same time, i think that the language of concentration and creation is a universal one. we all have a hobby, something that soothes the savage breast. as this year comes to a close, and as things continue to spin (like tops!) and i realise that perhaps my path (whatever it was, or whatever i thought it was) is far more jagged than i anticipated, i at least look forward to submersing myself in writing whenever i can. (between trying to earn a living and trying to keep my darn room clean).

it’s like going underwater in a rootbeer-coloured lake and feeling your hair fan out around you. it’s scary, but it’s pretty damn pretty, too.


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