Monday, January 18, 2010

Between the Margins

In high school and undergrad, I had a bad habit of spending class writing. Sometimes this would be a scene from Arylle that was burning to be recorded. Sometimes it would be jotted plot elements that couldn't wait for later. But most often, it would be experimentation. All of the things that I didn't dare to do during "writing time" for fear of wasting those precious minutes, was carried out here, in the back pages of my spiral-bound notebooks.

I was cleaning through my closet yesterday and realized just how much of this pastiche there is. During high school, when I was involved in the drama program, I wrote two pages of a play (about, creatively, a high school drama student). Never before or since have I written plays, nor have I felt the desire to. On the very last page of my organic chemistry notebook, there are three different pieces of bad poetry. Deep within my biology notes is an attempt at a nonfiction discussion of the stages of grief. Various dreams, story ideas that were never brought to fruition, shufflings of letters to create names (some used, most long forgotten), all grace the pages of my French notebook. In Sociology, I turned to different voices than I usually employ, from a first-person Holden Caulfield type narrator to an ethereal and detached one.

An interesting pair of pieces appeared in my English notebook. First this one:

What will I do when I can't hide from my fears anymore? There isn't much time; I don't have time. I can't think or I'll drown, can't speak or I'll choke. I'm asphyxiating because I can't confront, I'll never confront, I'll always hide and there's no way to stop it. If I try, I can black everything out until only the smallest scent of my fear remains, but what good will that do but postpone the inevitable? I dreamt of guns last night. I was shot to death by a stranger, shot to death several times, I think. But then I escaped and it happened all over again because I couldn't escape.

Then this:

Life is a strange sort of thing. I want to mold it into crazy shapes. I want to take it out on a date (I'll pay; life's never fair). I want to slam it against a wall and hurl abuses at it. I want to fill its pockets until they bulge. I want it to make love to me until I am exhausted. I want to reciprocate the favor. Leave me weak and wounded, but don't neglect me. Tell me anything so long as it's sincere. I'll try believing in it if it doesn't let me fall.

These are the only two examples I can find in my entire history of writing in which I have tried stream of consciousness. Usually, everything is thought out ahead of time and I only write when I am sure of what I want to say. As it is, these both end after only a short while, and have a rather abrupt conclusion. All the same, they've been hiding between pages on how to write essays and avoid plagiarism all these years and I had forgotten that they existed. To me, all of these discoveries were like hidden treasure, even the really embarrassing ones.

So I ask a personal favor to whoever has to sift through my things after my death: don't just toss the class notes. You might find something interesting in there. And if by some odd twist of fate I end up a fabulously famous author, your bank account will reward you for your effort.



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