When I attempt to write fiction it rings forced. Same goes for poetry. I am a writer because I am a journal writer of the non-fiction variety. I began putting words to page in a journal my mom gave me around age 9, and the first entry was a very natural continuation of a conversation I'd already been having. I was always telling stories as a child and primarily to myself.
A very vivid period of storytelling was in one of the houses where my parents, two younger brothers, and I lived, a run-down bungalow along Highway 11 where once a stranger lost in the fog rapped on the door asking for a room thinking we were a motel. It was a particularly tumultuous time for my parents, lots of arguments and money problems. We slept in odd configurations in the two bedrooms, my mom often sharing a bed with me, perhaps my dad slept on the couch. A killer phantom in my mom's close-knit family was my grandparents' alcoholism. Grandma Murrant succumbed to the disease right before Christmas.
My brothers and I discovered a cold storage cave dug into a hillside a few hundred meters from the house. We'd play there, relishing the remote secrecy, occasionally entering the cave with a flashlight when there was money for batteries.
I’d regularly stand at the dresser mirror and talk to myself, conversing with a character living on the other side in a world opposite but still my own. These mirrored worlds existed simultaneously in my mind, even when the mirror portal was unavailable. On the other side was a idealized dreamscape where my parents had money, our home had a spiral staircase, I slept in a princess bed, and I had two best friends who accompanied me everywhere. I find it difficult even today to exist in only one world as I straddle my projected “story” self and my actual self.
The most prolific periods of journal writing often coincided with times of confusion, lostness, and strife - but not always. When I was heavy into drinking, drugging and empty relationships, this delusion of projected self was amplified. I’d feel almost dizzy with the story I was live-writing, unwilling to separate myself, high on the drama. But there were other periods of prolific composition when only the pages of my journal were privy, the conversation no less dramatic, but just not exposed. Not yet anyway. Because in the end, sharing some of the stories is cathartic, a remedy for the pain.
Exposed or not, as I build the shelter and coziness of a real life and the embers of self-love grow to flickering flames, I don't feel wounded by outside opinion for I will always have a safe home within myself. I will always be able to sit at my own fireside for warmth.
As Stephen King brilliantly writes in his book On Writing: “…put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support-system for art. It’s the other way around.”