Friday, April 16, 2010

An Odd Compulsion

I would like to say I come from a family of writers. However, I think it would be more accurate to say, I come from a family of “wanna be” writers. Within my extended family sphere, three of us are blogging. My daughter is the latest to blog. She has been writing deep poetry for many years now and I am glad to see she has taken this step. Even in her teens, her poetry when read in church brought tears to the eyes of the hearers. Her poem about the death of her grandmother was read at her funeral.  I am very proud of her.

We have another poet in the family, a niece, who has won awards and trips to Europe. I’ve not read her poetry, but evidently it is quite good. The awards give a legitimacy to her poetry. 

Another niece has a deeply profound and moving blog about her journey. She is quite candid about her life. Since unfortunately my only personal interaction with this niece was when she was a baby, I’ve gotten glimpses of her as person through this blog. She has tremendous strength that I surmise comes from her mother. Her mother was the strongest person I met during my childhood. Her strength that I did not fully understand as a child made a lasting impression on me.

Then there are the book writers. My parent’s two sons both have written books. The older of the two has written several books. Lacking a publisher, he chose to self-publish them. To ease with publication, he even started his own publishing company. As an academic, he has been published. He also has written some rather unusual fare about the Holy Ghost in Sunset Park – odd allusions to our childhood in Sunset Park Brooklyn and our Pentecostal heritage. Also published was his ramblings against the Bush administration by attacking the father of the attorney general who snubbed him while in college. 

His first book is the only book I’ve read. I’ve read it twice. When it was first published, he sent a copy to his mother. I remember she was so excited to read the words of her son. It’s title was misleading, Sister Patsy. Memories of his childhood were told through a not so fictitious account of his memories from his childhood. Accusations against a female preacher of his childhood, alleged to be a lesbian, her final demise is a vulgar and steamy scene with another woman in the church bathroom.The characters of both of his parents were clear. Other characters too closely resembled other people from his past to be considered truly fiction.

My mother’s life was woven through a distorted lens. More than once, she came crying to me while she read the book. In the end, she threw the book at me and declared her son a crazy person. He had killed the character of my mother in the end. She put her head in a gas oven and killed herself.  I wonder what he was truly trying to say?

Equally disturbing to her was his portrayal of her father. Through tears she kept repeating, he made my father seem to be a monster, he was not. As the fog of dementia crept up on my mother, she forgot she read the book. She read it again. She had the same reaction. The fog eventually wiped that memory as well leaving her son still in good standing in her heart.

She never read any more of his books. They were never sent to her and we saw no need to buy them. I understand he has continued to draw very closely from his own life and memories further distorting the memories of those we knew and those we loved. 

The second son of my parents also has written a novel. Like his brother, he lacked a publisher. Unlike his brother, he didn’t self-publish. I have his manuscript. I have never read it. My mother did read it though and had no negative reactions. She just said it was very good.

I too write from my life. I too am telling the story of my life. I do not couch it fictitiously, but speak in the first person.  I will also write a book. It will not be a novel nor will it be fiction. Candid and vulnerable, I will share my story. I will share my pains, my joys, my questions, my thoughts and my hopes. I have started with this blog where I share with you my life, perhaps at times going too far, other times, not far enough.

I do not wonder what compels us to write. I know that writing is cathartic and beneficial. What I do wonder is what compels us to write publically. I wonder what inner drive has come down through the generations leading so many of us with this desire to write. All I know is that I will continue to write. 

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