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Sunday, June 14, 2009
Wintergirls really got to me. It's haunting. Not just the depiction of anorexia or the peak into that mindset -- the message. Or, at least, the message I got out of it. Want to know what it was? Want to know what about this book has been making my chest hurt all day because I just cannot.stop.thinking about it? Of course you do.
I mentioned this in the review: demons. Everyone has different words for them: scars, the past, memories, etc etc. I'm sure you have your own word for them too. Some people may not have a word for them at all and just know them as the heavy, crushing pain that every so often pops out of the back of their head. Or maybe it isn't every so often. Maybe it's more or less all the time, and you've become so familiar with it you don't even see it as a demon anymore, just a part of you. That's where it gets scary, but that's a discussion for another post.
I can judge whether or not I'm truly happy by how my writing is going. When I'm happy, stories flow like beautiful silk-spun cloth from beneath my fingers. Everything is brilliant and shining and good, and no matter how badly my characters behave, they're there, and they're mine. When I'm not happy, everything slams to a screeching halt and I wake up one day not having written anything in months, and not caring to. I just hover through the days, story-less, character-less, because my characters don't want to stick around where there's no happiness. I don't blame them; I try to run too. Because the unhappy times linger a lot more often than the happy times, and it gets harder and harder to stick around and wait out the unhappiness. I guess that's just a part of growing up, though -- learning to stick around. Learning to wait it out. Learning to have patience as you twiddle your thumbs and stare at the empty Word document and hope you can pretend you're happy enough that you'll fool your characters into coming back.
But I realized today, as Wintergirls repeated itself over and over in my mind, that I've never been very good at waiting. Ever. Is any writer really good at it, though? Is any person really good at it? One of the things that kept going through my head as I read Wintergirls was "Just hurry up, Lia. Just get better. Just get better so you can get healed so you can finally live. Hurry up." Hurry up now. Go faster now. Come on now. Now now now now. I don't even know what now is anymore. All I know, during the writing-less times, is that once I was happy. Once I was writing. And sometime, if I hurry fast enough, I'll be writing again. But hurry toward what? And what can I do to hurry more? It's not like the clock will actually speed up if I will it too. It's not like anything I do now will magically transform now into then. I'm here now, and now is all there is, whether I like it or not.
I don't think it's about waiting. Every ounce, every pound, every breath, every moment of Lia's journey was a part of who she became. The low times, the high times, the times where she could breathe a little and the times where she couldn't see beyond her darkness. Everything. What I was really saying to Lia while I was reading wasn't "Hurry up. Be BETTER now," it was "Hurry up. Realize you need help. Realize that it's not you, and you're not it, and you can overcome it. Hurry up, realize you can save yourself." Not an instant transformation. Of course it wouldn't be instant. It would be a subtle, simple shift. A light that springs to life that's faint and simple and small, but it's enough to make Lia switch from victim to heroine, even in the midst of her still-encroaching darkness. It's enough to make your characters come back, even in the midst of whatever demons haunt you.
I made the decision today to switch my major. Yes, again (I've lost count of the number of times). I'd found myself falling into what was safe, what was secure, what I knew would get me some sort of job. But it wouldn't make me happy. After all these Wintergirls-esque thoughts filled my head, I knew I couldn't let my past demons (or whatever you want to call them) encroach on my pursuit of happiness. It's a small step. But it's a step.