The limit of allowable rage
I spent the summer inside, shunning the sunshine because I wasn’t spending it in paradise. And now I am here and the temperature isn’t even creeping, it’s dropping; every morning this week, I have felt it touch me before I am ready. My northern hemisphere friends are waiting for Spring, and I think, so am I. And yet it feels as if Spring was just here, within reach.
I miss writing, but for once I’m not sure what to write about. All of the prose in my book is being hammered, refined. Lately I have I wondered what I will write about once I have this book out of my system. Like, is that it? Am I always going to be writing in retrospect? I mean, I admire anyone who can write about the quotidian, but I’ve always had trouble writing the minutiae of my own life.
Today in a memoirists group, everyone is talking about the righteous rage in Gina Frangello’s book Blow Your House Down, and the scathing New York Times review that sent most of us scurrying to check our own work, comb through it for knots of our own ire. But the conversation has changed today. Many who had already published, wished that they too, had allowed themselves to be angry. I can’t stop thinking about it.
In my thesis, I referenced an article about how women’s writing had been denigrated as merely memoir (predominantly in high profile reviews such as this). As someone pointed out this morning – yes, there may have been great rage in Gina’s book, but there was also great love, and we pondered where the limit of allowable rage was. ‘Searing’, suggested someone. I don’t know. My writing has been called ‘searing’ before and it wasn’t a compliment. Searing is intentional, but it is fast. Like searing a steak. Ripping off a bandaid. It stings, but otherwise it festers in its own dressing. But isn’t it that festering that encourages us to write to begin with?
I was taught to modify my rage in my M.A. To transform it into something useful. You don’t want to write something you will regret, they told me. True. I also don’t want to not write something and regret it, like so many women in this group were lamenting. My rage may have been medicated and therapised, but it was not exiled. Every time I show up to my manuscript, I walk a line that every woman knows well. Don’t write from the wound, they say. We know.
I haven’t taken a single photo since the nursing home (instagram photos notwithstanding). I’ve glued myself to my chair so I can finish off my client editing so I can unleash myself on Melbourne tomorrow. Four glorious days of wandering, in a place that hasn’t seen Spring for, well, awhile.
I know, I know. Scottish blood, Queensland born. Gemini moon. I am both the chill and the bare feet that defy it.
I suppose I’d better pack.