Blue Monday meditation: Thoughts on writing a life (again)

I took a long walk today for the first time since crippling pain seized my lower back on January 2nd, followed by a week of temperatures in the -28 to -35C range that kept me close to home for the first half of the month. Now, with temperatures above zero under heavy grey Chinook sky, it felt good to be moving again.

Since Christmas I have had to guard against a seasonal tendency to slide toward despondency; on occasion I even found myself drawn down dangerously dark corridors. I am ever more aware of growing old, feeling isolated from the culture around me, and concerned that I have lived a life completely out of step with the rest of the world.

I’ve always been anachronistic when it comes to television or movies or music, but nothing makes me feel stranger than the complete alienation of my own experiences as a differently gendered person from the transgender dialogue that has become so prominent recent years. I don’t understand it. I feel that it has taken my voice away, invalidated my reality as someone who transitioned twenty years ago without the supports, protections, or pronoun politics of today. And worse, I fear it has stifled my ability to be honest about the costs of the path I’ve chosen.

So what about my reality? Does it have any weight at all? And when does a lived story begin to take shape, begin to make sense?

Over the past few years I have asked myself these questions, entertained scenarios, crafted neat narratives tracing crisis to closure. But every time I imagined I was nearing not only an answer but more critically a direction to guide my desire to examine this life in writing, something would happen to unspool the thread I’d been so carefully winding.

An unforeseen opportunity would arise; an unexpected twist of fate would knock me off balance.

I have long wondered what to do with this existential morass, slowly and steadily accumulating more days, months and years as I found myself unable to do more than collect, in fits and starts, stray notes in a random collection of books and files. Hidden, tucked into closets, real and metaphorical.

The other day I finally started writing in earnest. I would like to confess that at last a path has opened up before me, that a map has made itself clear, a puzzle into which all the various pieces of my story have suddenly fallen into place.

But, of course, life doesn’t work that way.

Life is not a novel. It cannot be edited; it can only be lived. And if any narrative construct can be observed, it can only be seen in retrospect, buried under all the diversions, denials and delusions we rely on to get through the responsibility of living in the moment—the messy business of being in the world.

And is that evolving target I am writing toward. All that I have been. All that I am. Whatever I may yet be.

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

7 thoughts on “Blue Monday meditation: Thoughts on writing a life (again)”

  1. Far be it from me to tell you what to write, but I hope you will explore what it was that gave you the courage to take that momentous journey at a time when there were none of the supports there are today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another wonderful piece of writing. Life is not a novel, nothing is as tidy as that, so I think those “stray notes” perhaps are the story – existence is fragmentary, contradictory, difficult, and I wonder if what you have accumulated in those books and files is actually an honest and real reflection of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true. I am writing in fragments, but don’t know how they will weave together. Several years ago I was intrigued by fragmentary work as a model but I worry that it has become too fashionable in a way that is contrived, artificial. As an editor, I see a lot of unsuccessful efforts come through.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All the more reason to do it right then. It is your story and you should write it as you see fit, regardless of what seems fashionable. Personally, when it comes to autobiography the only writing that feels authentic to me is fragmentary in nature.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Although I know what you mean, about seeing the fragmentary form overused and misused nowadays, I agree with Sean above, that it’s worth trusting the creative instinct. Anyway, nevermind that, at this stage: the words are landing on the page, and that’s a good thing. Keep on!

    Liked by 1 person

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