Sunday, 12 September 2010

"I have experienced love, sorrow, madness and if I cannot make these experiences meaningful, no new experience will help me"

"I have experienced love, sorrow, madness and if I cannot make these experiences meaningful, no new experience will help me."

Sylvia Plath.
I wrote about her before - several times. The first time I wrote when I was 19 I think - after reading 'The Bell Jar' - after realising that I didn't want to wear it anymore, like her... I didn't want a life like hers... not for all her genius.

Maybe she could have stepped away; maybe she couldn't. Maybe it was her destiny to feel and write and suffer, all so intensely.
Maybe I can step away; maybe I can't. Do I believe in destiny or do I believe in choice?

There is no author whose work I have ever identified with more closely - except maybe Tennessee Williams. And this makes me sad. Sad, because I don't want to be like Sylvia Plath.

I don't.
I'm sure I don't...

So why don't I just step away?

Please, come on, step away... I must have a choice, because I swear, I never chose sadness, I would never choose sadness...

I didn't choose to feel, I didn't choose to write. Did I?
What am I trying to achieve by feeling and writing, so much, so intensely?

When I am sad I read a lot. I reach towards my passion for literature, the burning in the mind and heart, the burning in the eyes, because it hurts so much. No, I crave it, I crave poetry, all poetry, epic and contemporary; all literature, modern and Renaissance. It makes me feel sane - it places my mind in a safety where it's not reeling or crazy, but among reeling words and ideas and questionings that it can feed off, and feel safe - like I'm not alone.

I started to consider my mantra last weekend as I dove into Sense and Sensibility and the BBC archive of British Novelists 'In their own words'. I fell in love with Sense and Sensibility during my darkest time. (I forget this time was never charted in this blog... but that is the time when I was 20, and I lost Jon and discovered bulimia). I clung to literature, in the hope it would relieve the pain. I don't know why.

I want to write a masterpiece before I die.
There. Now I cannot line up the pills on the kitchen table, and scrutinise them, under the bright light as I pop them into my mouth, over and over.
I have to write a masterpiece first.
But of what?
Always, I think, I have been acutely aware of my identity as a woman and what it means to be a woman. The common themes - men, love, eating, disorder, weight, looks, beauty, fitting in, being loved, giving love, losing love. But then, am I a typical woman, struggling with identity in the 21st century? No, I don't think I can speak for my generation. My generation are not sick.

But this is my drive now. To write - to really write - something of consequence, of structure, of meaning. For I have all but wasted my life, so may it at least have been in the pursuit of something... some understanding, some vision, some something, written on neatly bound paper.

Why do it?
it cuts me free
it looks so pure
a fever of 103
Clean blood.
like the mist
like my lips you used to kiss
like my face
like my heart
like the bind around my wrist.