What if as the worlds poured out from your fingertips, you couldn’t see what you just put down. Would that change the way you write? Would you rehearse the words over and over again in your head? Would the writing be more clear?
Is it almost like…speech? Where once a word is said, then it is gone. No takebacks. No deletions. No revisions.
I write this as my vision is blurred from dilation from an eye exam. I would have rather opted out, but I wasn’t given an option. And for the next several hours (and hopefully less), I cannot see (clearly) anything close-up. I need to squint to read reads, especially those on screens. But it occurred to me, would it make a difference in writing if I couldn’t see? If I couldn’t mercilessly return over and over again to my work? Would I be less critical? Much like the time that my broke my right hand and had to literally write my left hand (during that semester, my handwriting was horrible and I could never read it). Would I get a free pass?
Certainly not due to the high standards I hold myself up to. But I keep asking myself over and over again. Would I behave differently? Would I question myself if the words never had to go in front of my prying eyes? That the writing that flows out, just simply flows…and it waits until the sun has passed where I can visibly view again for critique?
Emotions are true. Tell them. Stop holding them back. Tell the truth. And ignore everyone who says “you should…”
There is courage in exposing vulnerability.
Like a puppy, it’s exposing the belly. This is where you can easily hurt me deeply, but this is also where you can show me deep affection.
In high school, in a moment of teenage angst, I handwrote a multiple page retort to a friend’s belief. “Here, this is what I think!” I exclaimed in a flash of excitement.
I wouldn’t say that was the proudest moment. I wanted to prove something. At that time, I wanted to prove that I was right and that other opinions don’t matter. And I did it in the harshest way possible through intense scrutiny and argument.
I know better now. And when I see something or hear something that I vehemently disagree with, I hold back my tongue. Because people don’t change their mind overnight. Because in social situations, it’s just a showcase of who can speak better and who is quick to think on their feet. It’s unfair.
But I can’t stand to see a friend say something so….off course, so bullying, so judgemental, especially on the Internet where rumors swirl out of control. I had to respond. And I can sense that teenager inside me rearing up in battle and unleashing the deafening roar.
But then it stops. With wisdom, a drop of guilt circles my heart. Because isn’t better to say nothing than something?
At the moment that the kid fell from the lift, I was thinking about how I could get around the seemingly two expert skiers to me. They were going to go straight while I wanted to wiggle my way right in my awkward skier skills.
But at that moment, the lifts had stopped. I had guessed that the kids from the ski school had fallen when exiting so the instructor was helping them up. The three remaining kids were waiting in the next lift to exit. I was right behind them, pushed to another chair by staff.
And then the kid fell screaming from the lift. Poles and skis and all. For at least 10 feet. His face hit the snow below first. He cried in pain and blood poured from his mouth onto the snow.
Two other kids left in the chair remained, awkward like a hat misplaced on a chair.
Shock gripped me, and this is the part that I feel guilty about. Because I did wonder if the staff noticed, the staff that at the booth controlling the lift and the first aid guy lurking nearby. I was silent for a moment. Then the two guys sitting next to me started yelling, “Hey hey! A kid fell!” Someone immediately ran down from the booth down the slope the kid. From above 10 feet, I heard the word “parents” and “pain”. Then the voices grew quieter.
Moments later, the lift started moving again. And I got off the lift. The guys skied away. And I saw the kids in the chair crying from the incident. But you see, I didn’t have the tools or anything to help. And so I changed my intended path while I watched from a distance as a crowd started forming around the fallen kid.
Whether it’s a bad habit or good habit, I always think in design, I can come back to this later.
I have a belief in iteration. Even more so, I believe that nothing can be perfect the first time, the second time, the third time. I also believe that every product has the ability to change and adapt.
But not writing. I desperately want to submit, but every time I look at something that I write, I keep changing the words around and around. Rarely is there a piece that I find so utterly perfect. For that to happen, the words somehow rush out of me and when I return to look at that piece, I think…there’s no way that I can create like that. Again.
Then I start this path where I think that the first draft (with a few tweaks) is perfect. But then I sit down to mold and shape it more until it becomes a sad lumpy mess and I want to be that writer that has a trash bin with overflowing crumpled pieces of paper.
When is enough, just enough? I went through at least 100 entries of this blog looking for something to submit and found myself tearing the pieces apart until the meaning, the goal of the piece became nothing to me.
There was a researcher that shared her insights from writing a how-to book. Every single time, someone asked, “What was the hardest thing in the book?”
She would describe the endless nights of writing. How she gained respect for writers. And she would always end with, “I can never go back. It’s done. Stuck in the book forever.”
For the last seven years that I have lived in the same apartment, I always heard noises from outside my window. It sounded like muffled cries. Of pleasure? Of anger? Of simple communication? Birds, orgasms, neighbors, puppies?
Yet whenever I went to my window, I saw nothing. My building is awkward. My window faces opens to the a small unused space. To the right, the bathroom window. In the front facing me is the unwindowed wall of the kitchen. When I moved into the apartment, my roommate then made double my salary, and it seemed fair that I took the smaller room with a window that looked out to nothing.
When opportunities rose to move to the larger room with bay windows overlooking of Twin Peaks, I still did not move.
I felt satisfied to be in my room with awkward closets and the window with no view. But the sounds that echoed up to my desk, which I had always faced the window…it puzzled me for no end. Why would my neighbors have sex in the middle of the day? And I could never find the source of the sounds, peering as much as I could into the space.
But then today, as I sat at my desk, another day to feverishly write and letting words pour out of my fingertips, I finally saw the source. A pigeon. A fat one reminding me of the childhood cartoon from the early nineties. I finally saw the flap of its wings, the flutter of the feathers and the coo that echoes in this empty unused space.
As I was struggling to come up with a compelling arc for a short story, it gave me a look. A look that said, “You silly girl, all you have to do is sit at your desk every day and work hard. If you had sat here every day, you would have noticed me all along.”
And by a push, I mean a gentle push. A nudge. Not a shove.
For the last 2 years (yes, now that it’s March 2014), I have been caught in a swirling black cloud. Some of it is my own making. I chose to contract or freelance (depending on who I am speaking with). I chose to give my life more free time to imagine and ponder. I chose to keep most of my lifestyle the same. I chose to maintain my sanity. And yet, what to make out of all of this?
Is there something that I am hope to get out of this? And maybe that’s the wrong question to ask, because it’s about the journey rather than the destination.
Every school year, I often began with the greatest hope. In regards to my social life. I often would think: this is the year that I make friends, this is the year that I can finally rise above outcast, this is the year that I will be “normal”. This time is the new time. I always had that hopeful attitude, even if the previous experiences suggest otherwise.
I would sign up for new clubs. I would apply to be part of the school newspaper and the yearbook. Then a few months in, my hopes were dashed. I was rejected. But then I had the summer to sulk and let my disappointment sink into something else out of school.
Then I would begin again. Friends and family find it charming that my optimism allows me to momentarily forget past experiences. But each time, I hope. I hope for the grand new future.
This habit changed the moment I started college where I became a realist. And yet. I miss that side of me, when I would be dropped off at school and think, “This is the day. This is the day that everything changes.”
Earlier this week, my friend’s husband posted on Facebook on her behalf:
I am heartbroken to inform everybody that early in the morning, on Friday, February 21st, Vivian Luk, my dear wife, soul mate, and mother of our child, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.
She was gone. As a teenager, we met each other on a yahoo group, and we kept in touch over the years through blogging and the like. I finally met her in person more than 10 years later for dinner. Then when I was in Vancouver, we met. And I stayed over at her husband and her house. It was a brief moment. Where I was delighted to discover that a friend who I met at such a distance was such a lovely, sweet person.
She was younger than me. And to think, when I said goodbye the night before I left Vancouver, I didn’t know that I wouldn’t see her again. I thanked her profusely over Whatsapp and rode the train to Seattle. That was 18 months ago. Several months later, she gave birth to a lovely daughter who I followed on Facebook. She was never a photo-whoring mother and delicately posted photos with wit.
Funeral homes often say that they see the elderly the most. But when it came to young people, those were the worst. To think, that there was no devastating journey to the end, but only a shocking surprise ending. The incomplete answer to “I’ll see you tomorrow” and tomorrow never arrives.
I can’t help but admit that I thought of my own mortality. Then the people close to me. What if they disappeared tomorrow? What if I wake up and right next to me, they are just gone? Movies and TV can’t possibly prepare me for it. Because as Cheryl Strayed so aptly put it, one would simply be in “i-lost-[insert name] world”.