Mr. Risk and I went to two book stores the other day. At the first, "Another Book List", I purchased three books. The first "Talking Back" by bell hooks couldn't have come at a better time. I've endured a real flip-flopping of emotions in the last two weeks. When Zee told me months back that it is common for people to experience depression after writing a book I dismissed it because I imagined that the depression would come as a result of feeling directionless after working so intensely on one thing for a long period of time. I had so many plans for things I would do when the book work wasn't dominating my life anymore. I thought surely I would not experience this directionless.
I was wrong.
It's not about feeling directionless at all. And I wouldn't call what I'm experiencing depression. At least not for me. Writing the book was really hard in the beginning. I struggled with intense feelings of fear. The fear was really abstract stuff that I would never rationally imagine possible. It was fear of punishment, of what it means to have a book published, and moving past boundries that had been established for me long ago. There was fear of too much pride, fear of being punished for being too prideful, and inversely fear that I wouldn't feel any pride at all. There was also a fear that when one makes a book people assume that the writer sees themself as an authority and a fear of how people would react to that... and on and on.
I was discussing all this stuff with Mr. Risk the other day and he pointed out that the word 'author' suggests authority. It's in the word! It's right there in the damn word! No wonder people get so twisted up by it.
So now that I'm nearly finished this book and have some space to breath all of these emotions are exploding out of me. I feel really great but I also feel really scared. I'm having intensely violent dreams in which people are attacking me, cutting off my fingers, etc. One minute I'm excited and expressive, the next minute I'm introverted and silent. I'm having a great deal of difficulty articulating. I like to refer to this phenomenon as "Can't Make the Sentences." I can't make the sentences. This self-imposed silencing is something I experience whenever I've been too expressive. Payback and punishment for expressiveness is inarticulateness and silence.
When I opened up "Talking Back" the other day and the very first words in the book were about these very problems and difficulties it was such a relief.
"It has to do with revealing the personal. It has to do with writing -- with what it means to say things in print. It has to do with punishment -- with all those years in childhood and on, where I was hurt for speaking truths, speaking the outrageous, speaking in my wild and witty way, or as friends sometimes say, "do we have to go that deep?""
These are issues I have never heard anyone talk about before and I had felt isolated in my weirdness throughout the six months of intense work. I knew it, recognized it and understood it, but I still felt so isolated in it. This is why I think speaking honestly about our lives is important. Because ultimately although our lives are uniquely our own, there is also nothing that hasn't been experienced in a similar fashion by someone else, in some way, at some time.