Monday, 29 July 2013
Thinking about Capote
I had heard it once said that the difference between PTSD and a normal life is the narrative: how you recount the darkest part of the human experience--killing each other. Was it horrifying and haunting? Or do you see it as formative?
Or the phantoms?
A writer is no warrior, but we share that commonality. We control the narrative. We need to, or else it destroys us.
Lately a memoir has been in my brain. It is the rare and joyous kind where so much of my dark hours are spent in the footnotes. And I'm okay with that. How could I deal with those moments?
So much of fiction is our life reflected and watered down, and writers--too often--are the least equipped to deal with them.
Our demon devours us. They gnaw at our bones, while feeding our pen.
In the end, they kill.
Sylvia Plath committed suicide.
Capote and Hemingway died from alcoholism.
So did Kerouac.
Then think of Tolkien, Irving, C.S. Lewis--men who, all of them, live/lived happy lives, seemingly unaffected, though their stories are fraught with darkness.
John Irving never knew his father, and was sexually initiated at a young age. Tolkien and Lewis grew up in the shadows of two world wars, and Lewis had other, smaller
(though massive to him) issues.
But Tolkien said, "If The Old of the Rings was an allegory for World War II, Mordor would have been occupied, not destroyed."
Lewis wrote some of the greatest children's literature of all time.
Irving wrote Until I Find You and The World According to Garp, not only meeting his demons head on, but conquering them in fiction.
Be wary of what bones you want to dig up. Not all of us can be Tolkien or Irving. Unfortunately, most of us are probably more like Capote, only without the awesome skills.