5:43am — what would I be writing about this morning if I had the time, if I could be writing about anything I wanted? Last night the bus took an hour and a half to make a 45 minute trip because traffic on Lombard was so heavy — everyone wanted to get across the Golden Gate. I was tired of words and wanted to be home. I nearly fell asleep on the bus, dozed a little, got a sleepy mouth. Sometimes I get tired of words the way I get tired of the smell of my own body, with a kind of sickening overwhelm, because I can’t get away. There’s no break for me from words. Words are my only mechanism, only medium, only practice. They’re my work and my hobby. Last night I came home and drank wine and ate the red beans and rice F! had made, then ate cheese and crackers, then ate ice cream. I watched tv. If I’d turned off the tv, I’d have been left with words. I wanted to breathe without them for a little bit. I wanted to step outside of that structuring of my brain, which I didn’t, not really, but tv drugs you and makes you think you’re free. The clouds outside look like dark smoke in the early sky. The garbage truck looks like hungry.
The Monday night Write Whole workshop is going and gorgeous, even though the registration is quite small. The Tuesday night DOE workshop I’ve had to cancel again because only a few people had any interest, only two indicated they’d register and only one followed through. What happens? I had the idea that many people would want to take an erotic writing workshop, figured that, of course, when I opened the groups up to everyone, folks of all genders, that I might lose some of the women who’d wanted to take the women-only workshop, but I’d get a lot more people who didn’t fit or feel comfortable in those groups: that hasn’t been the case. Maybe it’s because I’m not known, I’m not advertising enough, I don’t have a book or a regular (like, consistent), sexy image: I’m not out there blogging and twittering and facebooking about sex, my own sex and others, I’m not really putting out that this is what I do. And frankly, right now, it isn’t what I do: I haven’t been doing a lit of sex writing, except when I’ve got a workshop on. Otherwise, what do I write about? trauma. flowers. workshops.
The other day I thought maybe I’m interested in sex writing as a part of something larger, as a part of this project of making it safe for us to tell our dangerous stories, the stories that are risky to our identities, to our communities, our families, the stories that express our whole, fragmented, faceted selves, our full and messy realities. The initial impetus around offering erotic writing workshops was to make a space where (queer women) survivors of incest or rape or other sexual trauma could be in their lived, adult, consensual desire, without having to have it be always pretty or always a struggle. We could write our messiness out. We could write out the things that we’ve longed for that we haven’t had language for, or have very much had language for but haven’t what haven’t wanted to share with other people, haven’t wanted to share for fear it would be something we had to follow up on or something we’d never be able to do, for fear it wouldn’t sound like something we should want, given our gender identity or sexual identity or class or race or size… given how we’re seen in our groups, maybe, we think this thing we long for looks ridiculous. I don’t pitch the workshops as a place to get you published, a place — right now I just feel low. I feel low energy. The point is I don’t think I’d be offering erotic writing workshops as an end in themselves, as important all alone, but as a part of this larger process: telling societally-difficult stories. That’s what I believe in.
I’m interested in space for our breaking stories, the ones that stick in our throats, the ones that hide under our lungs, the ones we aren’t supposed to tell because our families don’t want to hear them or our communities can’t hold them with us, or we don’t think they can.
Here’s what I’m thinking about now: how trauma and creativity are inextricably linked. How trauma survivors are deeply creative beings, and then how creativity can pull us through to our next place as we come through whatever happened to us, its after effects.
Many of us already know this: creativity is in us. It is us. Without our creativities we wouldn’t have survived. We wouldn’t have been able to come up with different solutions, different ways of dealing with difficult situations, wouldn’t have been able to read the street signs in our families, or wherever our experience of trauma situated itself over and within our lives, we wouldn’t have been able to navigate that landscape. Every decision we make is a creative act. Decision is creative — it has the capacity to engender, make different, make new. Also: make another moment to breathe, make another opportunity for decision.
PTSD, its symptoms, grows out of our creative selves learning to adapt to horrifying situations. Once we are out of those situations, the process is to reengage our creative selves: learn/attempt new strategies, learn our own languages for our experiences and then express them, remember that we are elastic beings who are ever becoming new.