veemignon: (julietspirits)
[personal profile] veemignon
I wrote the prologue in a salon.

Waiting to have my hair cut, I was visited by a vision of violence. I remember thinking I was a horrible person. Who waits in a salon while writing about these sort of things? Why couldn't I just pick up a gossip magazine and immerse myself in the lives of others? I dug through my bag, searching out my school notebook, and began writing immediately. Women gossiping with their hair in foil, the scent of nail polish, and all I could think of was how to describe blood. When my name was called, I barely heard it, hovering over my head like dissipating smoke.

As she cut my hair, she tried engaging me in conversation. I had been lost to another realm. Another me. This other me had succeeded once again in stealing me away. Later, as I looked over what I had written, I was horrified. Is this what Veronica writes? It would take me a full two years to accept that other me. Our wavering relationship; at a younger age, I readily accepted that part of me. But as I grew older, as a feeling of authority washed over me, I had turned my back on it, allowing it to run rampant. That other me, skirting past my eyes when I wasn't looking. We had to make an agreement, this me and I. I had to learn, like Harry Haller, that the other Veronicas were all Veronica.

The other night, I found a collection of older writing. Papers I hadn't thrown away, pieces written for creative writing classes, and even reports from the fifth grade. A time capsule of my mind, opinions I didn't agree with, superfluous writing that had been necessary upon reflection. I went through it all very slowly.

The first short story I had ever written had been for a class, hosted at the community college, while I was in elementary school. It was about a man going to collect a girl for a date. At her house, he paused. There were bushes surrounding her house, innocuous at first glance. As he tried to walk past, vines grabbed him, flowers trying to nibble on his hands. They were going to eat him, he realized. The woman stepped out of her house and the plants dropped him. She apologized and asked him if he still wanted to go out. And so, they went out as if nothing had ever happened.

I knew that reading my older writing was going to be cringe-inducing, and there were some pretty embarrassing moments (I turned that in to a class?). What I didn't expect was a strange sense of humor. I found myself laughing at some bits, covering my mouth as if I wasn't allowed to relive that moment. For a history class, I once wrote a paper about communist Russia entitled "Life Sucks." My teacher wrote out his laughter next to those words. And while some of it felt horribly forced, I realized that I had perhaps three good lines to my name.

It was the work for my creative writing classes that made me pause, though. Despite the fact that I went into it with a cocky demeanor, I've always had a feeling in me that my writing is not up to snuff with others. On one piece, I was required to provide author's notes and it hurt to read, "I really don't have much to say on this piece besides the fact that I don't think it's my best and that I think it's a piece of crap, but then again, I'm the sort of person who thinks everything they do is terrible. I hope somebody actually likes this." When I read my teacher's notes, I was close to tears: "I don't agree. I believe you are extremely talented." He wanted to meet me after class, to discuss how to turn my work into a novel, and that's when I began to crumble.

Before, I had been smug, joking with a friend about how silly the class was. I turned in a piece that was eventually read by the class (anonymously) and was shocked to hear how much they got out of it. It still amazes me to this day that they transformed a really linear story (and trust me on this) into something of depth and eloquence. This has been a theme in my life. Everything I really care about isn't really looked over and the things I don't give a shit about are treated like monuments. At least, this is what I thought in college. I remember I took a beginning art class and we had to do this shadow art. I didn't care about it at all, cut out abstract shapes and glued them onto paper. When my teacher saw it, her remark was, "We have a young Picasso in class." Cue Thora Birch lowered brow.

Talking about my writing projects makes me very embarrassed and this was highly emphasized while I was in creative writing. There are times when I feel as if a separate entity has written this work, as if I have no claim to it. I think it's that fear, of becoming that other me again and having to explain it to a class. How am I supposed to tell them the things I write about with my head held high? I was jealous of the other students who could explain their thinking so clearly, who could elucidate in words exactly why they chose to write about twenty-something problems. And while my teacher said things like, "You have a gift" and that my writing had "depth and wit", all I could think about was my inability to communicate this myself. Where was this person? Who was she? And why did she always have to hide when eyes fell upon my face?

Reading over my teacher's notes, I realize now why I was so glad to leave that class. But, seeing as I was a keen masochist, I took another creative writing class. The teacher wasn't as in love with my writing and I appreciated that. I needed it. I needed someone who wasn't in love with what I was doing. Though later I would criticize some of her remarks, everything she told me was necessary. Every single comment. I was just too cocky to notice. I felt as though she didn't like me, but I remember that moment when I was wandering around on campus and she caught me. "Trapped in your head again?" she greeted, with a smile. All I could muster was a pathetic, "Hmmm."

I held back in that class, because I was afraid everyone would see me for who I was. They would sniff out the imposter, who tried to write about cordial relations when in her spare time, wrote about id fantasies. There was no cohesion in my separate selves. Either I was writing about stale people with stagnant emotions or I was writing about wholly emotional people doing nefarious deeds. The few times I turned in work from this other side of myself, I saw the exclamation marks all over my writing. Not necessarily bad or cruel, but a pause.

You? You, quiet Veronica who never says a thing write about these kinds of relationships? You, who knows nothing about relationships? I was frightened, because as I've discovered, I don't want the relationships I write about to be littered with warnings. I want them to be treated as part of the story, as the blossom that blooms off of the tree. Not separated, not apart from the rest of the world.

As I looked over that old work, it was all I could think of, that these were distinct separated selves of me. When I dream at night, I see visions of women who always take my hand and guide me through cities. They are extravagant women who have no fear and the dreams always end with them kissing me. One morning, I woke up with my lips still tingling from movement, as if it had been reality. Angela Carter once said, "Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms." And I realized then. After watching the video to Senkou Shoujo, I believed that the two girls were really one person. Much like my experience with my other selves, instead of working together, they were running far away from each other.

I realized then that all those girls in my dreams were me.

Yes, the violent one who slashed through urban jungles with a saber. Yes, the adventurous one with piercings and tattoos, who explored abandoned buildings like they were gardens. Yes, the one in thigh-high boots who walked easily down the streets. They were all me.

All my writings are me. And now that I've accepted those parts of me, my writing has improved.
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