Would you say this is mere conjecture liv mammone poet, fiction writer, millenial, fangirl, wielder of crutches brain anoxia

Imagine if you lived in a country where you were fluent in the language except for a single phrase, and at the end of EVERY conversation someone had about or with you they said this bit of syllables. And sometimes they said it in a whisper, sometimes they laughed, sometimes it was in the form of a question, sometimes like they were cursing you. Imagine you saw it written on buildings and official documents but no matter what words surrounded it, your reading comprehension was never quite good enough and no matter how many times you asked for a translation, you only got shuffling and mumbling in reply.


Eventually, this phrase would mean something to you, hearing it as often as you did. But what?Brain anoxia

Imagine if somebody asked you: why is there a sky? How could you answer that? It’s all around you. You live underneath it. Sometimes it rains and on those days you don’t like it. Some days you don’t even look up at it. It’s everywhere. Imagine if other people didn’t see the sky and were always asking you to define it for them.

These are the two best metaphors I can come up with. I wish the words cerebral palsy made me feel something. But it just feels like syllables puffing out into the air. I feel vacuous when I hear them. You can’t use them to compare me to other people who live underneath them.They inform every aspect of my life and yet the two words themselves don’t say anything about me.

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You might as well call it world sky day. How would we mark that? Would we each look up for a second? Take a selfie every minute to try and watch it change? Would we measure our breaths?

I’ve heard a lot of poets, both peers and in my wider reading, talk about how shitty being happy is for art (comedians, too, say happiness is bad for business.) falling in love is especially problematic if you’re not neruda. I had to put a cap on my undergrads writing about current love affairs to save myself from derivative metaphor and lots of written hand wringing. Maybe I was just a bitter virgin schoolmarm. We’ll see if the rule holds next time I’m on the big girl side of the desk.

We are under the impression that angst is more intelligent.Brain anoxia when I was as old as those students I banned from so much as writing the L word, my teacher philis levin blamed this on the war in iraq, saying, “don’t be afraid to write about beauty. Ugliness is in vogue now. I think this happens in times of great violence.” I wasn’t sure if I believed her. I’m still not. I did try to take the advice to heart but still mostly find myself to be the oyster that has to be irritated before the creation can start. When I finally fell in love for myself, the intellectual perpetual-student part of my brain-the part that couldn’t believe I was about to throw myself willingly into this volcano and thought I was an idiot-said, “well, if you’re going to do this, let’s test out the theory.”

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I wrote two completed drafts about my lover in a year and change–five or six drafts counting the incompletes. They were not desolate, but not any more sunshine and roses than my other work. It certainly wasn’t because I wasn’t happy. Honestly, I struggled with finding language to express the dizzying heights of first love. I was constantly grappling with ways to say I love you. Perhaps, I thought, that is the real struggle. Maybe there’s just a greater difficulty expressing openness and joy. Or maybe I just wasn’t so linguistically proficient as I’d thought. I also thought it might have had something to do with being inside the onslaught of all these heavy, new emotions and needing distance in order to make art of them.Brain anoxia

I wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t write a new poem every day about my lover. I hungered to, but she was uncomfortable with the idea of herself as a muse so I didn’t push myself. What was really bothering me was that I wasn’t pushing myself to write anything. I was willfully dry most of the time we were together. I was reluctant in the extreme to use any of the time writing that might have been spent with her. This was due, in part, I knew, to our circumstances. We were long distance, so long conversations were our only true means of connection and building. Our relationship was carried out mostly through texting (this is probably the hardest medium to express the subtleties of emotion through, kids.Brain anoxia FYI.) but we were both jobless at the time. So I had more or less unfettered access to my lover all day long but found it difficult to multitask, which I can normally do while writing. So there was no way for me to feel connected to her while working. Without that, I was up a creek. I did not want to leave her even for the half hour it would take to write the roughest draft, let alone the four or five hour stretches it takes to edit. It caused me bodily pain to purposefully put anything before her, even work or other close relationships. How I wrote my MFA thesis in this mindset, I really have no idea. Most of my former professors will be reading this. They should probably come and take it back.Brain anoxia

Poetry and novels didn’t tell me that leaving is almost as hard as being left. This total inability to prioritize anything, particularly myself and my work, before my lover’s needs (even what I imagined she needed when she didn’t), was one of the reasons I ended it, and was indicative of some of the suppressed emotional problems I had to deal with.

I knew I had to make my writing the central relationship in my life again if I was going to get better and follow through. In the few months since, I’ve joined four writing workshops with experienced poets I’ve admired for years–rachel mckibbens, shira erlichman, jennifer bartlett, and angel nafis respectively. I am horrible at setting my own goals creatively, so getting back to work required someone to play the role of gentle whip-cracker.Brain anoxia I got so much more than that in these women. I got to see idols become human, saw us all at the same beginning together. Saw myself as standing alongside them as opposed to being below them. They asked tough questions of me and, in part, saved my life.

However, one stumbling block remains and I’m asking the help and advice of my friends and readers. I have grown too accustomed, in groups such as these, to writing in the room with peers. I love the energy that crackles in these spaces as we all write, ponder, and discuss. There’s something crucial about seeing us all at the same starting line with a new baby draft. It’s like walking on the wire without a net. But recently, I have found that I get terribly anxious when I sit down to write because I feel alone. (dealing with the palpitations right now, honestly.) since my relationship was based on near constant conversation, I feel deep fear when I have to go back into my head and face myself to write.Brain anoxia reading and writing have always been my safety for its solitude. That’s not uncommon. And while I am happy to have become more extroverted, I don’t want to have to take a xanex to try and write a draft because my room feels as if the walls are closing in. I want this time in my life to be filled with work.

Has anyone else felt this kind of creative loneliness? It’s hard for me to explain, but it is inhibiting my work outside the workshop setting. I’d welcome any opinions.