On Transcribing the Mess

Right now, I’m calling my story “My Messy Story” because it is messy. When I was in hospital, I wrote what I call the Mental Ward Manifesto. In it, I came to grips with my story, something I have been trying to do for a really long time. As a little girl, I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder. I thought, “I want to write diaries so when I die, my kids can find my diaries and turn my life’s story into these kinds of books!”  And so I’ve always clung to that; a sort of self-programming that has held me back, thinking that if I couldn’t write my story in a cute little neat package like Laura Ingalls Wilder, my story wasn’t good enough.

Well, as I was writing the Manifesto, I realised that my story was more like an Impressionist painting. It was blurry and soft and mushy. If you looked at it up close it made no sense.  The colours all ran together and there were blobs and clumps.  When the Impressionists first hit the scene the Great Artists of the time were disgusted and decried that they were no artists, they were hacks of the worst sort without any proper training and how dare they! But when you step back, and pull your face out of the mess of the blobs, behold! the painting becomes this magnificent delight and you can’t stop staring at the soft wonder that these truly Great Artists have created. And that is what my story is like.

But right now, as I mentioned in my first post, it’s more like Jackson Pollack. I’m not a fan of his work, but the analogy fits really well. I’m sure Mr. Pollack used great control and deliberation as he created his art, and so am I, right now. For most of my life I have been a diarist, a journaller. But since coming home from hospital, I have been doing it on my Facebook page. It just sort of happened, because the very small group of friends I have there are my lifeline, and the stream-of-consciousness writing I’m doing there both helps me process my pain and get through the Stuff I’m working on as I heal and recover…and my people help me see things I can’t see for myself. They support me. Along the way I realised “hey, I think I’m kinda writing a really rough rough draft of my messy story here.”  So as I brought my writing blog live, I started transcribing those posts.

Transcribing is messy business. I have never gone back and read my journal entries. There has always been something personally taboo about that, and also something very disgustingly painful. I probably knew, but didn’t want to admit, that actually looking at those entries would force me to admit that I have serious mental illnesses that needed to be treated. But now, as I transcribe the past month’s worth of writing (and there is an awful lot), I see an amazing transformation; a metamorphosis worth celebrating. Walt Whitman says, “Sound your barbaric YAWP from the rooftops of the world.”

I am doing that. It is messy. Mess is ok. I know this, because I have raised two epic children, who were messy most of the time. They are *still* messy most of the time, but they are amazing people, so messy doesn’t matter when you step back and take a good look at the big picture.

Go be messy, and sound your barbaric YAWP.

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2 thoughts on “On Transcribing the Mess”

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting! It’s fun to meet you because I, too, am a life-long journal-writer and long ago thought maybe I’d turn my journals into books like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s. I may yet. I turn 44 in November, and Laura didn’t start writing until she was in her 60’s. 🙂

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    1. i’m so glad to meet you too! thank you for commenting; this blog is very sporadic still because i’m still very nervous about being so public, but each time i write in it i get a little braver. i’m very pleased to meet you.

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