Detours

On not writing about illness

On not writing about illness

I don’t want to write about this, she said.

For the woman who spoke these too familiar words to me, this was illness. Insidious, consuming, chronic. I nodded because it was also my story, just with different symptoms. We spoke in the shorthand we had each become practiced at employing around our narratives, framing conditions that did not, in spite of our best efforts, abate. I don’t know how to write about this, I thought. And I wondered if that was what, deep down, she had meant.

On acknowledging resistance

On acknowledging resistance

During some downtime at Vortext, the writing salon I attended earlier this month, I jotted into a notepad, trying to put a tail on the thoughts I’d started to gather on the ferry ride to the retreat grounds that morning. To pin down the questions I wanted my book to ask and to illustrate why they mattered by sketching out its opening scene.

I had resisted writing those words. As I let the questions take shape, however, I realized that my resistance needed its own place on the page. That the struggle to frame the questions was an essential part of the story too.

On finding the message in the mess

On finding the message in the mess

This month has been about looking back. Not the sort of reflection that happens on the page, but the kind that has to do with checking in and taking stock.

The process of gathering specific memories and corroborating them with family and friends for my book project has been going on since February, and now that I have quite the growing information cache, I’ve needed to step back and consider it all at once. I don’t want to lose sight of what my intentions were when I started this exploration, and at the same time, I don’t want to miss opportunities to let the material point me in directions I could not have known about at the outset.