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Sunday, March 22, 2015


The Disembodied Voice of M. starts up when I try to write (not a "voice in my head," but an intrusive memory:

"Your life is a series of crises.  Most people do not live like this." (and many other little gems of hostility tossed at me through the years, and he knew better than to do this).

Disembodied Voice of M., shut the fuck up, seriously. I'm sick of having these little gems of criticism in the back of my mind when I try to work.  I've been told various things by some of the people I've known through the years, but for some reason, m's criticisms hurt the worst, and they stick...maybe because this person, more than any other, was someone I trusted absolutely with my light and my shadows.  A friend should never take those things and use them for hurt.  Perhaps I devolve into them because his criticisms became familiar territory.

And yet, there is a bit of use in the little gems: every time, I overcome them and sit down to write another few pages of what I think might be the best writing of my life.  There is strength in finding the center despite everything.

 There are times  my fears about this book swarm me, about writing it, fear of the places it will take me, and I know it, and am afraid: I will be a witness to all the wildness and the shadows of the human heart, will write of the murderous rage of the killer, and at the center of it, will be a witness to the story of Asha herself, the one I do not know and yet who stands at the center of this story, which is not a story, but a recounting of human lives, people who live out their days holding a grief I could never imagine in my worst nightmares, and the innocent ones who live no more.

Every time I sit down, or endlessly edit the email I have in my drafts folder and will soon send to her husband, a thought comes into my mind: "What right do I have to tell her story?"  And yet I feel I know some things:  what it is like to be pregnant and not know what to do, and find the strength to have the baby after all.  I wish I'd had her courage, to move away for a time, to have my baby in safety, to decide what to do with the rest of our lives together.  I had that courage, but did not know where to find it in myself or how to use it. I know what it is like to have to walk away from someone I love with all my heart: I have done that too many times in my own life, carrying heartbreak for years. I do not know what it is like to stand in a parking lot and confront, unknowingly, a person willing to take my life, but I know absolutely situations where a man could have easily killed me and did not.  I write in the book how the thinnest silver of circumstance separated my fate from Asha's and from my friend Anne's too.  

I have to find sleep so I can use the last remaining months of Thistle's school year to write and not just sleep the day away.  I will look at my sadness for what it is: just a part of my landscape, and I will put that piece aside, find the sleep I need, and keep finding a way to hear what Asha wants me to say.  The metaphoric echo of her voice from the world beyond this one, a much less destructive voice than m.'s criticisms, drives me forward through all the things I have to push aside in order to write: voices that nag in my memory, the self esteem I still find is crushed to the ground, feeling as if I am a stranger in this house, the extreme tiredness at the end of the day after taking care of a kindergartner.  Then I realize that Asha's husband would likely give all he has in this world to have such a precious little girl like Thistle, to have his wife back, living.  And then, for whatever ineffable reason I am writing this book, I move forward, page by page.