On a recommendation, I just finished reading James Joyce, “The Dead.” Actually, it was the second time I read it – the first was a couple weeks back, my head was too clouded to wrap around it, nothing stuck, and I was relating everything in the story to my own life.
There are a thousand strands in the story, intricately woven into a delicate blanket which surrounds the reader. On the second read, being in a much better personal state of mind it read like it should – it stuck, free from my own discord – not once did I relate a passage to my own situation, I was consumed in the story – as one should be.
That is until I got to the following paragraph;
“Moments of their secret life together burst like stars upon his memory. A heliotrope … Like the tender fire of stars moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would ever know of, broke upon and illumined his memory. He longed to recall to her those moments, to make her forget the years of their dull existence together and remember only their moments of ecstasy.”
There was no denying the connection to my own life there, it wasn’t all that long ago so much of what was right in my life went terribly wrong when I tried to make the one I love forget the bad and remember only the good – the resulting actions on my behalf were damaging, to her, to myself.
I lingered on that paragraph endlessly, reading it again and again; the words picked at the scabs that had begun to grow over the scars of that episode, more notably perhaps, were new wounds tearing open; Joyce had so perfectly, effortlessly used words to invoke the readers’ emotions, and do so in the way intended. Something I failed miserably at.
Not that I’d dare use Joyce as a measure against my feeble attempts at writing. I always approached writing as something akin to cooking a meal… we are all presented with the ingredients (words) and assemble those into the dish we seek to create.
I’m finding myself feeling tremendously inadequate in that kitchen now. Often, my strength in writing has come from me being broken. Almost never have I felt compelled to write in times the I was not feeling damaged, or broken. It was an outlet to get those feelings out and help myself heal, or, at very least, turn a corner to a more positive direction.
I had put all my emotion and passion into a recipe, but made the mistake of never tasting it myself along the way – it wasn’t until after I had served it that I took a taste for myself…despite my efforts, it was vile, inedible. A fifteen course meal consisting of pastries, cake and ice cream with a couple jalapeno peppers here and there hidden under layers of frosting.
It broke me – but differently than in the past. typically, freshly broken I’d find some words and start to create, start the process of selecting the words to season what I was creating. Not this time, I have a overwhelming fear of words now – I can’t bring myself to cook for myself, let alone others.
I’m going out to eat more now, a serving of he dead; was delicious departure from the slop Ive been creating and consuming. On truth and untruth next – then who knows? Suggestions always welcome.