Writing During the Apocalypse

Like many writers, I have periods where poetry and essay spill from my fingertips as if I am just a conduit for words poured into me by the universe.  A vessel.

I also have times when I stare at the stark white screen while the cursor blinks reproachfully at me, taunting me when I am dry and depleted, wracked with anxiety, listening to the devil on my shoulder hiss imposter and wannabe in my ear.

I have not written much the last few months, but when I have, I have written so I don’t scream until my windows break, until my eardrums bleed.  I have written because I have been stirred and shaken until my stomach is clenched in knots and words pouring out on the screen are less destructive than the sledgehammer I want to slam repeatedly into my walls, until I am so exhausted that my racing thoughts are stilled, my arms ache more than my heart, and there is a brief moment of relief.

One of the greatest compliments I have received as a writer is being told that I write what others are feeling but cannot find the words for.  That I write what is raw and most deeply hidden.

I am a selfish writer.  I write far more for myself than any audience.  I write to process the world events hammering at me, to understand my own deepest feelings, to lance the festering wounds that slow my step.  I have long stopped worrying if my writing is pretty, is palatable.  It digs deep and unearths the ugly, the naked, the primal because I need it to.

One of the hardest but most important journeys I have ever undertaken is to look directly into my own abyss- my deepest fears, my fury, my worst tendencies, my self-destructiveness, my ingrained prejudices (internalized racism, sexism, classism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, etc.), my destructive thoughts, and ugly judgments of others.   I have struggled to name my demons, acknowledge them, wrestle with them, actively learn, grow, and change when I can, and finally, to accept myself and my failings when I can’t.

It feels essential that we dig deep, know ourselves, truly see and wrestle with our own demons.  We must know them- and ourselves-  in order to combat them in the world around us.

© 2020 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

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