I write because I am afraid of the dark. I write because Erica Jong said, ‘everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow that talent to the dark place where it leads.’ So I did because I thought I had talent. I wasn’t prepared for how dark those places were. I wasn’t prepared to think that I had somehow subconsciously engineered the collapse of the twin towers so I could weep freely in the darkness without the light givers questioning my self-centredness. I wasn’t prepared for serial insomnia and tribal connectedness with people I had never met. I wasn’t prepared to think that writing meant survival and survival meant identity and if I could preserve an identity it meant I existed. So, like Plath, I write without fear and without hope.
When my daughter grew up and left home to claim another love I panicked. I know daughters grow up and go away as I had been a daughter once and still try to be one in a long-distance weekly phone call one these days. But who would sustain my narrative and contain my loss if she wasn’t there to share fragile daily moments of existence? So I tell frenetic stories of exotic places with eccentric characters who speak many languages but can’t explain loss in any of them. I write about mothers and magicians and abandoned homes with his/story and her/story and wonder if there’s a method in the methodology.
I write because I want to remember. I think of the people who live in countries that don’t rate a mention in this country and wonder about subcontinents and islands. I wish I’d paid more attention to geography when I was a child instead of wanting to be Heathcliff when I grew up because Elizabeth Bennett was seriously annoying. I wonder what happened to the uncle we called Uncle Walker and we tried to imagine him in purple tights riding a horse called Devil galloping by his side but my daughter doesn’t get the joke even though she smiles kindly and says, ‘that was delicious mum,’ of a meal that was cooked in honour of a homeland I struggle to remember.
And finally I write because I know of no other way to think and feel. If I didn’t write I would roam the streets in bag lady costumes, accosting young people at side walk cafes, listening to inept musicians in the malls, stalking my favourite writers in Fremantle and refusing to contain myself poetically when driving along the wide sunlit coast of my adopted hometown.
I love that you write, and I love what you write. Don’t ever stop. Mind you, the alternative suggested in the last para sounds like fun, too 🙂
I know, right? The accosting/stalking side of me is something you’re familiar with! All that’s left is a costume, a large purple hat and permanent grumpiness! Thank you for your support 🙂
A lot of this resonates with me Rashida; the other country, daughters that leave, the identity question (Now there’s a title for something!). Write on, and let the writing reveal in whichever dimensions luminesce. X
Thank you wise owl…and same back to you…write on …xxx
This is absolutely beautiful! So moving. So poetic. So many exquisite lines. ‘If I could preserve an identity it meant I existed’ resonates with me. Part of the reason I write is so something outlives me. I felt your yearning when you wrote, ‘tribal connectedness with people I had never met’ and ‘a meal that was cooked in honour of a homeland I struggle to remember’. Absolutely beautiful post. Keep writing …
Thank you Louise, your words mean a great deal xx
Honest writing, exactly to my taste… mining the heart and soul then having the courage to share the spoils. Love it – well done you! xx
Thank you Sue, I have good friends and mentors who show me the way 🙂
Oh yes – this and more! It’s not either/or. Do it all. Refract all the magnificent shards of your journey and shine a light for those with eyes to see and hearts to hear. Keep writing and sharing – we, your readers, most humbly request.
Thank you, eyes and heart! You inspire me so very much xx
Beautifully written Rashida. Look forward to meeting you on my return. lots of love Lucky
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2013 00:21:46 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Loved reading all the posts (including the one I’d already read at the retreat, this time with others’ comments.) ‘What is rare is the courage to follow that talent to the dark place where it leads.’ Those dark places can be confronting. I’m always moved by the courage and honesty writers display in telling their stories; many stories remain untold because we’re unable to muster the courage they demand. ‘I write because I want to remember.’ I can completely relate to this. The pull of memory can be immensely powerful. The past has an essentially evasive quality that makes writing (or recording) that much more urgent. It also has an ineffable healing quality – we are sometimes our own best teachers – and it is this that often affects me in profound ways. There are few things that are as powerful as sharing another person’s pain and learning from it.
Thank you Arjun. I love that this is a continuation of the conversations we had on the retreat. You’re right, of course. Mining pain is a fraught activity, so why do we do it? I too have been reading your posts and loved the two I’ve read, the pasta post (well done you!) and the elections. Both incisively written, accessible and relatable. Look forward to many more excahnges 🙂