Quite a few years ago, I was given some of the best advice I could have ever been given when it comes to writing. It was given as a random tidbit of information, without much meaning, sandwiched in-between other pieces of information. “Wait a few days, or years before writing about your circumstances.” The advice started. “That way you will be sure to steer clear of everyone’s dirty laundry, and your stories will be told with a more powerful approach – with time in between, the ugly fades away, and only the beauty remains.”
I’m pretty sure this led to another diversion on the absence of ugly being beauty, but I couldn’t honestly tell you.
But sometimes. The ugly is needed too. Without the ugly, I find, that life just runs together. You forget so many important things, and begin to assume that life is supposed to be kind, all the time, when quite frankly, it isn’t. This combined with the fact that so much of life lately isn’t up for grabs, isn’t mine to write about, and is really too much of the ‘dirty laundry’ I was so carefully advised against messing with, has started to wear on me.
Somewhere there is a line. A line that was not ever explained to me. My family does not hail from a long line of literate folks. Writing is what you do to pay bills. Talking is what happens when you need to argue. Words are those funny things that you may yell at each other. The line about one persons life, crossing into yours – thus giving you the freedom to write about it, was never explained to me. And as I walk along it, trying ever so carefully trying to avoid the pitfalls of mentioning something that isn’t mine to mention, I find myself losing out on what is important.
That line, has always caused me grief. I have never been good at understanding what is mine to tell, and what isn’t mine to tell. Which is a problem when it comes to writing, especially.
And then there is the waiting period. The one you are supposed to allow in between the event, and the writing of the event. But the problem there is that I need to write before, during AND after, just to process everything. But my mind gets tangled up with all the rules and should haves shouldn’t haves, do’s and don’ts that sometimes I don’t know what to write.
This week has been a long, daunting one, full of lines that I should not cross, angles I should not take, and advice I should not be giving. Its been filled with caution, threats and so much of that hard stuff that no one likes to think about. And yesterday in the midst of a midday, midweek freak out I had to stop. Remind myself that taking things one day at a time was just going to have to be ok. Crossing lines would just have to work. Tangling thoughts would just have to happen. And somehow, things would end up ok. Because laying on the floor throwing myself a fit isn’t going to get us anywhere.
We are far from the finish line, far from this being off the horizon. Far from finding answers that satisfy us all. We are somewhere in the knee deep, only going to get deeper area. Where you grab a life vest and hang on, because you know by the time its over there isn’t going to be much left. A scary sink or swim, do or die situation that may or may not be mine to tell. And while one day, perhaps, the other side of the story will get told – for now, it has landed in my court, and been directly given to me to handle.
I don’t know when to not cross lines, and how to keep things separated. But for now it seems pretty clear that while it might not be mine personally – its mine to deal with. And this. Is how I deal with it. So forgive me, if in the coming days I cross lines, screw things up, tell things that aren’t mine, and desperately try and find a way to get us all through this.