“Bring yourself out of the chaos in your mind,” the voice floats on the clouds in the air. “Breathe in, slowly, now let it out,” it continues, “begin to think about all the pieces that make you who you are.” My feet start to tingle, I can feel them extend from the round neck of my folded Levi’s. Within seconds my arms start to reach down, they want to stop my feet from running away, but I’m distracted. “…Are you,” the beautiful vocal sounds return to me but I seem to have missed part of the conversation, I want to focus. It’s hard to listen to energy in the room when my limbs are becoming immanent. They have a greater purpose, there’s a weight that they are carrying, or maybe they are the weight. “…Who are you? Ask yourself, who are you?”
I don’t know how long I have been here. Distantly, I remember that I signed a contract for a two-week retreat. “Thursday, Friday, today must be,” my calculations are interrupted.
“It wants me to ask something.”
Someone else is present, “yes, it wants you to ask yourself.”
“Ask yourself, who are you.”
“I know some of you are distracted,” the foreigner seems to be talking to my heart. From where I’m laying down I can see it beating near a light, maybe that’s where my limbs are headed. “Listen.”
“Ask yourself, who are you. Ask yourself, who are you.” It all makes sense.
“Who are you?” I recognize these squawks, they are my own. “Who are you?”
You have just read the first chapter of a novel that I have been working on for almost a year. Wow, that’s almost 12 months–you must be nearing the last chapter. Wrong! I’m only about 30 pages into what I hope will someday be a book that is mass produced, available for many to read. It’s 1:42AM and as I struggle to piece together words, sentences, paragraphs… I’m beginning to wonder why this process is taking me so long. Why can’t I just bust out 217 pages like Beyonce does an album.
This isn’t my first writing project, but it’s my toughest. I’m trying to tell one structured story but I have so many tales to tell… I’m attempting to mod podge a series of life experiences, made-up characters, and shit that has been floating around in my mind for 23 years. I’m writing one novel but there are hundreds of stories dying to peel their way through the layers of my brain.
Writing has been my therapy, the reason I started piecing together poetry as early as third grade. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these 30 pages have been shaking me up. They are 30 pages of tears, trauma, relief, imagination, culture… but they are especially a process of discovery as I struggle to define where I fit creatively in the world of writers.