_I think this is going to be a long one because I'm going to address a couple of things that will on the surface seem completely unrelated which means I'm jumping into everything is everything thinking . I've never tried to put this thinking in writing before, so bear with me.
So our topics today are:
"How much personal stuff should a writer share?"
"Do you ever feel like two people?"
Since this is everything is everything, none of these things are unrelated. It doesn't matter which one I talk about first because it's connect deeply with the other two. But I have to start somewhere, so let's start with "Do you ever feel like two people?"
If we were in classroom with a professor at the white board with his little black dry erase marker poised for work, I'd be the first to raise my hand.
"All the time!" I'd shout.
I'm not sure to what extent others have experiences this sensation, but for me it goes back to my earliest memories. I'm going to say now that I was divided in two by my name and nickname. Later I'm going to suggest that maybe I was born into duality, that we all are. But for now, let's say my names divided me in two. I was one part the nickname my family called me and I was one part my full name.
And my first grade teacher, tired of me writing one one and then the other on my papers, said "You must choose who you are."
I said, "But why?"
She shook her head. To her the issue was simple. It made grading papers easier. For me it was a huge philosophical question, with my identity, my idea of self lying at its core. I was two people, a situation acerbated by home life. See my about page as I added a lot of personal stuff to my bio. This leads us to, "How much personal stuff should a writer share?"
I don't know.
I've chosen to share a bit more, which, and because I several distinct personalities— I don't actually have DID. When you don't have DID but have dived personality traits, you're called moody. Nobody has ever called me moody, but it's a good word. Anyway, I am simultaneously shy and outgoing, quite and loud, calm and bundle of energy. This brings us back to "Do you ever feel like two people?"
"All the time," I answer. "And what's more research into brain injuries suggest that we might all be two people."
In the early 18th century hypnotists reported seeing evidence of second personality while their patients were under. Some doctors dismissed the notion. Others said the patients had multiple personalities. But again, we're not talking DID manifestations here. Just incongruity or duality. If we fast forward to modern times, there's evidence to support that the left and right brain are in fact distinct personalities.
Patients whose corpus callosum was severed either due injury or brain surgery. The corpus callosum is a band of brain tissue connecting both hemispheres of the brain. Each hemisphere has separate duties. In general terms, the "right brain" is artistic and the "left brain" is analytical. Speech tends to be orientated on the analytical side and vision on the artistic side. Now, I'm over simplifying a very complex system. What you need to take away from this is that corpus callosum allows for communication between the two hemispheres. When this is severed, scientists have seen some interesting things. Remember the hand from Adam's family. Well, some people with a severed corpus callosum experience "wondering hands." This can be anything from groping to punching someone.
There was also a simple experiment where patients were asked their ideal job was, first verbally, and then in shown the question in writing as well as a set of pictures to choose from. The patient might say banker, but choose a picture of a racecar driver. In fact, when asked what they wanted to be the verbal response was most often an analytical job while the visual response was often artistic.
I suspect that this is intuitively recognized in language. See: "Me, myself, and I" and whenever we refer to ourselves in the the plural.
And we're back to "How much personal stuff is too much?" and "Do you ever feel like two people." There's an old saying:
"I'm of two minds on this."
Two years ago a friend of mine was staying at my place. She had to catch flight from Incheon Airport. I was living in Wanju at the time, about two hours by direct bus. She got up at Six A.M.. Because of insomnia, I sometimes don't sleep for weeks at a time. When it's at it's worst, I might get an hour an night. Falling asleep can take hours and sometimes not at all. If I do fall asleep, I'll wake up in as little as thirty minutes. It makes me grouch and irritable and not myself. When I agreed for her to come stay with me a month prior, I was getting about five hours a night. By the time she came, I was in a rough patch, not having slept more than three hours a night for two weeks. As would have it, we stayed up late chatting and around one, I fell into the deepest sleep I'd had in months.
As you can imagine, I was not particularly happy to be woken up at 6 A.M.I didn't get up to see her off, which resulted in her slamming things. We hadn't seen each other in a while, so she'd kind of come for my company as much for convenience. Well, I don't really know how a two hour bus ride to the airport was convenient. I wasn't being a good friend-- I was awake by then, but drifting in and out of sleep -- and knew it. But I was too exhausted to drag myself out of bed. I remember telling her there was some fruit in the fridge. I think it was apples. It was a sad peace offering.
"I brought my owned damned tangerines," she barked.
"I know," I barked back. "Refrigerators don't generally make their own fruit."
I fell asleep and by the time I woke up, she had gone. We made up later. In the meantime, I had a great idea for a story. In it, the refrigerator would produce fruit. The story was first called "Don't Eat the Fruit." I later retitled it, "Irresistible."
I'm particularly proud of this story. At the time, I hadn't done anything remotely like it. You could say it's my first real story. Today, it found a home with Bards and Sages Quarterly.
I did not know that writing was painful.
Until I wrote about something painful.
Now, there are tears on my keyboard
Now all my words seem to bleed
I wonder, is this just a phase?
Or a condition of permanence?
Freud compared the mind to an iceberg. Our conscious is everything that we see above water and our subconscious is everything below the surface. I first became that much of writing was subconscious some months after finishing my third book. I realized I'd writing 100,000 words or so about hunger. Yes, it was horror with a decent monster, but all that time I was writing about monsters, I was also writing about hunger. But not, the emotion limited to the intake of food. My soul ( or some deep part of me) was / is hungry. To my own ears this sounds rather melodramatic but it's true. So I wrote a whole book about hunger and not one word of it was conscious. Now that's not to say, I won't bring the themes out as I edit it.
The unconcious is a nonverbal beast. It has no words of it's own so it enters out lives in odd ways. We do things and we don't entirely understand why we're doing them.
I have a theory that what drives humans to dance, sing, and write stories is an unconscious need to share our experiences. Carl Jung, a psychologist, purposed that all of the human experience is contained in the collective unconscious. I purpose that the collective unconscious is very real. It is all around us, in the music, art, movies and literature we share. How else can we explain why one mention of fire by Robert frost calls to mind Dante's inferno? Ultimately, I think transference of knowledge is at the core of what drives us to tell stories, to read, to watch and to sing about them.
Sopa and Pipa are bills that are supposed to help stop piracy but they grant the US government the right to control the internet. While I'm for stopping piracy, these bills are not the way.
If your as appalled by these bills as I am, you can sign the petition and tell your friends to sign it. You can also blog about it.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter.
To be abandoned.
Mothers, abandon your children.
Rats aboandoned the ship.
Abandon yourself to....
To have reckless abandon
Call it quits
Hang up the fiddle
Have done with
Throw in the towel
Do you write with abandon? Can you love with abandon? Abandon is usualy used in terms of negative, but sometimes not abanading somethiHow do you know when it's time to abandon a story or book? Or a lover? Or a pursuit? Or a dream?
Today I cut myself with scissors for the first time. I've cut myself with a nife, stabbed myself with a box cutter at work (not seriously), sewn through a finger but never cut myself with scissors.
I've alwasy been extra careful with scissors. When I was a kid my older sister coerced me into the hall closset to cut my fingernails with a dull pair of scissors. I was three and since we are ten and half months appart, there is a good chance she was also three. I don't remember the a lot of what happened but I do remember screaming my head off and mother throwing open the door. There was lots of blood and some pain, but I think it was the blood the scared me more than anything.
While my mother yelled at both of us-- my sister for cutting my finger nails and me for letting her-- her words impacted me more. They always did because I would collect mistakes, totting them around with me for years. My life mantra could be, "I'm not good enough, let me count the ways, starting with when I was two."
The result has been a lifetime of low self-esteem and carefull scissor use (amung other things.) My sister has a very different temperment and the next week she was back in the closet with our younger sister and a pair of scissors.
Stage 1: My Writing is a Gift to You!
This a time when a write believes that all that they write is good, no great, a master piece. Which is very important since, fledgling writer's spend twice as much time day dreaming about making the big time as they do putting pen to paper. Writers at this stage are simultaneous unaware of rules and entirely confident that such things would only be a hindrance to the creative process.
Stage 2: Rules Rule and Humble Pie is Served!
At some point every writer must extract their head from their ass and get down to the business of writing. While eating his or her fair share of humble pie, the writer will become an expert on the rules. He or she will set forth to deliver the message of the rules to all parties, willing and unwilling. The rules are as fine a feathered friend as God himself. While simultaneously handing critique partners their hat for not obeying the rules, writers at this state will bemoan the very rules they worship.
State 3: Thou Shal Break the Rules Because Thou can
At some point writers begin to reach the level of competency. They not only know the rules but have learned to use them to varying degrees of effect. They have eaten a lot of humble pie and served large slices to other writers while smiling kindly; humble pie is best served with a smile. But the pride in the rules has passed. They are no longer a thing to worship but an object of intrigue. Writer's at this stage are like children with a knew toy. They bend twist and sometimes obliterate the rules and despite total anarchy, people respond favorably. Yes, there are those still thumping the Rule Bible (this is not a real thing) but they are free to do what they want and confident because they know exactly what they are doing when they do it. This is a time of experiment and discovery.
The three stages of a writer's career really aren't stages at all. They are a continuum, often overlapping and sometimes experienced simultaneously. Nobody can gain equal mastery over every skill at the same time. And sometimes we will forget something we know while learning something we didn't.
Anyway, this is what I was thinking today and so I wrote it down.
When I was a kid, I used to draw, mostly horses, but I could copy anything I saw or remembered seeing. Most of my pictures were drawn with a number two pencil. Later, when I was in middle school, I was introduced to pencil sets. I drew some incredible fish with a cheap set of colored pencils. My teacher handed me a set of water colors. Not the kind that comes in a tube, but the kind that is comes in a tray of twelve. I painted a picture of some water lilies and the forest. I remember my teacher coming to stand and watch. She said it could have been painted by a professional. I don't know by what standard she judged this. Art was always something I could just do and I never really cared if I was good at it. I can't judge know because the painting was lost, as was so much of my art, after I entered foster care at age 14. I continued to draw a little here and there, and even took up painting after college. Paints and canvas are not terribly portable, so I gave up all artistic pursuits outside of writing when I came to the ROK (Republic of Korea). It wasn't really a sacrifice or it hadn't seemed like it. I never wanted it the way I wanted and still want to write. I saw art as thing that took time away from writing.
Two days ago (as of writing this) I bought myself a gift. It's a electronic drawing pad and pen. I wanted this so I could make electronic mind maps for my books. But I have a copy of Artrage. I drew a horse, a nose and a mouth. I drew the horse because I know to draw them from memory. I drew the nose and the mouth for practice. But something much more important happened when I was drawing and I want to put what that was in to words. I've written a dozen sentences and deleted them all. Art was something could always just do and I think it's something I need to do, even if it takes time away from other pursuits.
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).