What I am doing, in terms of writing this book about my life in Japan, is not easy. Actually, fucking hard is a pretty accurate description. Pulling everything out, smoothing it down so you can see as much of the story as possible, without the wrinkles and creases we have made to protect ourselves, it is not an easy task.
When I first started, it was exhilarating. I thought that everyone should engage in such a project of self-examination simply because there is so much within us that we blindly accept but never fully recognize or understand. But now I have moved beyond that initial rush. Now I am in the shit and it is not fun.
I have given myself a quota of 2700 words a day so that I can have a full first draft by the end of August and begin rewrites/edits in September, the month in which I become forty. It is a lot of writing and a lot of memory mining and demon confronting. And when I am writing, I naturally feel the emotions I felt at the time, which helps the text come alive but is pretty shitty for me as these old emotions that had little contextual framework at the time are being juxtaposed with my current perspective. So then new emotions are generated, primarily of the self-loathing variety.
The toxicity can be overwhelming, triggering a lot of self-doubt.
I can’t do this, I begin to write to people who have encouraged me to continue with this project. Can’t I just write some sort of fantasy fiction novel instead? Something holds me back, catches me before I click send. It is the something that arises when I see that doubt in print.
I can’t do this.
Is that so, I think? Well, who else is going to do it then?
It is not that the story of my life is somehow spectacular that I am writing it. I am writing it because all life is spectacular, because the private sufferings and triumphs from our daily battles matter. They are existence, simply put. And the funny thing is that within my head, my past is essentially a fantasy fiction. There are one-dimensional villains and victims. I had no doubt of my status as the heroine of this story until I began to write about my actions and inactions; now I can see that I have a bit of the villain in me as well. As do we all.
And, as to a follow-up on yesterday’s post, I received some well-meaning messages of support, a few that had questions about why I don’t just change my situation. Then, when doing research for an essay I am writing about immigration, I came across this video, which somewhat explains why there is no easy exit strategy for me, or for many people in my situation or similar situations.
In no way, I should add, am I comparing myself to a refugee but her sentiments, particularly towards the end, regarding practical acceptance of what life puts before you resonates with my own journey.