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manifest press

sometimes i feel like i’m just groping around looking for something to respond to. ok, most of the time that is how i feel. for a long time i was just having things handed to me, my entire education at evergreen was about responding. in fact, i think my entire education in olympia, even before i started going to evergreen, was about responding.

“here. listen to/read/look at this…what do you think?”

since i’ve been at mills the invitation to respond has changed. i have to spend most of my time crafting something, there is way less time for reading. i find that i’m being called upon to just sort of draw something up from inside of myself, and i’m finding it to be quite unsettling. i don’t know how to respond to myself except to just wail. to just cry. to just sleep, even.

that sounds really melodramatic, but it’s a very real issue that i’m having. in the absence of the invitation to respond, suggestions of lenses through which to filter my self-reflection i feel completely trapped inside of my own head, and that is a very weird place to be indeed. it’s not that i haven’t been reading things here at mills, but the discussions around what i’ve been reading have fallen flat, and the discussion is not the center of the work here like it was at evergreen. it’s more like a sidenote.

i’m asking myself the same question over and over: “why am i doing this?”

and i can’t answer right now.

it’s unsettling, a little bit, but i think maybe i don’t need to know that answer all the time. i have that inkwell and quill pen tattooed on my arm, and sometimes i look at it and feel like a fraud until i remember the sentiment with which i got it.

along the quill runs this quote “there is no other way. and there never was.” i didn’t get these words tattooed on my arm because i love charles bukowski (i really kind of hate him, to be honest). the sentiment of the poem from which this line was pulled is that writing is hard, and from bukowski’s perspective you just shouldn’t do it unless it’s “bursting out of you in spite of everything.”

in spite of everything.

maybe sometimes you’ve got to just pull in the everything until you’re bursting.

but what does that mean when you’ve made a commitment to be bursting?

sometimes i write something that bursts, but when it doesn’t i can feel it die before it even reaches the page.

don’t do it.

which brings me back to response. for me writing is a conversation. i say things because you say them. my voice is contingent upon every other voice. i cannot write alone. in fact, the image of the secluded writer cloistered in some hidden room disgusts me. what are we doing except trying to talk?


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