I’ve been kinda scaring myself lately. Maybe because it’s close to Halloween, and I’ve been watching a lot of Hitchcock and reading Amelia Gray, but the stories that I’ve been writing have been pretty dark and weird. In one story, a woman falls in love with a mannequin that has taken her job at an auto dealership. In another, a man receives a severed tongue from his gift-giving-obsessed mother. My latest and favorite story is about a man whose only friend is a bird clock on his bedroom wall. All these stories weave humor and dark elements together to explore the strangeness of human relationships and expose the dangerous effects of isolation and capitalist society. Ooo. Maybe I’ve found my writing niche!
For a little while I’ve been telling myself that this is a new style for me. But then I put aside all the writing that I did as a college student, or essayist, or travel blog writer, or as a house manager at a transitional house for homeless folks (pheewwp! it’s on the shelf!), and I took a good long look at what I wrote about as a kid and teenager, and there it was–the silly, the bizarre, and yes, the creepy! I even wrote an email to a good friend today to tell her of this revelation and thank her for sharing in and supporting my little weird self. As a kid, I spent hours writing and making up stories that explored sexuality, weird bodily fluids, things that don’t make sense, things that people don’t say or do around other people because it’s not expected or accepted. I put strings of words together like “curdled” and “toe jam” just because they sounded fun and made me and my friends laugh. I’m sad that as the years passed, so did that awkward, fresh sense of play and imagination that I used to let run rampant on the paper.
So, even though I’ve been creeping myself out with my story lines, I’m also immensely grateful that I am, that I’m coming full circle, my childhood self and adult self co-mingling, as they should. There is a quote that I love, that I just discovered by a Google search was said by Flannery O’Connor, and it’s, “anyone who has survived their childhood has enough material to write for the rest of their life.” At this moment, that feels incredibly relevant.