A perhaps immature discernment process in my life is going through the list of authors I know I am supposed to have read and visiting the Quotes page on their Goodreads profile. The quotes are ranked from most popular to least and I've found that my tastes differ largely from the Goodreads community at large so I dig through a few pages before finding what I think is the really good literary shit.
I've tumbled down a lot of these wormholes lately, both distracting myself from a recent heartbreak and then inadvertently finding things that bring me back to my heart. But the one that struck me was one by Kazuo Ishiguro, from his novel Never Let Me Go. I don't know the context but it reads:
“I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel, world. And I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go.”
I realize that I am not living as a sentient organ harvesting unit in a dystopian future nor am I a little girl but I am someone clinging to an old world that I know I won't get back but begging to be back in it anyway. And I can do what I want with a quote because:
In June of 2016, I wrote a post here called "Unhappiness Is A Story," wherein I explained how being happy had left me without many stories to tell. The political climate makes no appearances in the story for I had taken it for granted, not knowing so cruel a world was possible.
My relationship brings me a peace I'd forgotten and the sale of the second book brings me a sense of security that I have something to do for the rest of the year... Happiness, like depression, is found in the particles in the air surrounding you rather than in physical objects or events...But unhappiness is different from both, it is not a passive mood but an active disposition. From this active disposition, I could mine more easily for conflicts to write about. It has been the absence of this disposition that has seen the well of stories that often turn into my columns dry up." Happiness felt private and secret in the best ways those things can be.
Fast forward to today, when my book sits long overdue and the love of my life is no longer mine and I suddenly have a thousand stories to tell. I am writing my book faster than at any time over the past year, frustrated only that human fingers cannot move more quickly to put the words down. I am pitching up a storm. And I want to tell so many stories, get lost in them. And in much the same way I fall down wormholes of compelling literary quotes, I found myself accidentally down a Tumblr hole of word art, images that are formulaic and overly sentimental, stuff I should be self-conscious about having punch me in the guts.
And I'd be a hypocrite to scoff at myself seeing as I am the author of a book whose title essay is about Sylvia Plath and the girls who adore her on Tumblr, writing:
...they document their lives in details that are always personal, and they do so in kingdoms they've crafted and breathed meaning into themselves. The ways they tag and arrange their posts are signal in the night, reaching out to others enduring suffering and nonsense in a world that tells them their hearts are burdens rather than treasures. They are good witches in the wilderness and sages and romantics regardless of any present romance.
And so I took these images and breathed life and meaning into them, I told a story with them. Several stories. I arranged them from single fragments and thoughts into stories that people are familiar with. Maybe they're collages. Maybe they're found poetry. Maybe they're nonsense. They are both mine and everyone's, because there are only so many ways of feeling the heart bursting in love or feeling the heart breaking in its absence.