This blessing was not completely out of the blue. It was something longed for, striven after, and yet not something I could win for myself by sheer willpower.
What I wanted was something that would help heal me of the damage inflicted by Talechasing.
The formation of that place was one of my great sorrows of 2006. And not a short sorrow, alas, as the grief of a single event sometimes is. No, this was one that went on and on for many months, and seems bound to continue indefinitely, in one way or another.
For those lucky people that don't know what it is, Talechasing is a LiveJournal community created for writers, started by a couple of my online friends. A place for writing-related games and reference and community and whatnot.
Now, there are millions of groups out there, so why did this one hurt me so deeply? The difference being--there are many groups out there I have no interest in being a part of, or can't be a part of and don't really care. But with this one, I desperately wanted to be a part, and could not.
Could not, because it's a group for writers. Real writers, those that like to play with words, make up languages, actually enjoy/understand grammar, that write for the heck of it, just like some people never stop doodling or making up tunes or imitating parts and voices. And that is something I most emphatically am not.
How could I view it otherwise? The plain truth is that I would rather be strapped down in the dentist's chair and pay $300 of hard-earned dear money to have my teeth drilled on rather than do something so utterly loathsome as write a drabble (100 words exactly) or write a story in response to a challenge. All the willpower in the world cannot suffice when I so hate writing for its own end. Only the threat of extreme violence could induce me to take part in such activities--and nothing could ever bring me to enjoy them. Let me shovel manure or wade in sewage, please!
Hence my deep and abiding misery. I could not take part, nor could I forget when everyone around me was babbling endlessly about their 'fun.' The pain grew so intense I could hardly eat or ever be free from that hanging specter of anguish. In May, and early June, and again in August, I thought the only escape for me was to banish myself from LiveJournal...but I really, really did not want to do that. It's my home on the internet. I do not want to give it up. If only I could stick it out, I hoped, the pain would diminish eventually.
Oh, how I cursed myself! How I hated what I was, and wished I could force myself into something I was not. Every day I hurled at myself the words--'you're not a real writer; you're only a misfit freak' and it did not matter how many times I spoke them--the pain was always there. I couldn't just 'get used to it.' They did not stop hurting over days and weeks and months.
There were some small scraps of consolation to cling to, here and there. Nonfiction books I read last fall and beyond--folks like Michael Card (songwriter), Dorothy Sayers (novelist/theologian) and Madeline L'Engle--they weren't interested in putting people in boxes; they didn't expect people to do certain things, or enjoy certain things. And they thought about creativity more broadly...they used the word 'artist.' That's a better word for me, a broader word.
Elfwood and FictionPress are like that too--broad and big enough a 'box' to fit in. They don't care why a person is posting, or how that person came up with it, only that it fits in their categories. They don't care if writing is a person's first passion and that individual lives to be published--or if it's just a side-burner hobby for someone else to trot out at odd intervals. Doesn't matter to them so long as one keeps the rules. And because I like to order things, and because places like Elfwood and the rest also ordered things by type of art, well, I put my 'writing' in one box, and my 'art'/visual creating in another. So natural to do...but so potentially damaging in its implications.
I digress, perhaps. Anyway, by early 2007 I decided the term I would call myself was 'artist,' but I still desperately sought healing for the wounds of Talechasing. A mere word-shift was far from sufficient. And this is where the monster blessing comes in.
I was reading 'World' (a weekly Christian news magazine) one morning on the bus in February, and I came across some links to writing-related sites that seem interesting. The difference this time, was that I actually remembered when I got to work, and didn't drop the ball. There have been all sorts of interesting leads from articles in 'World,' but by the time I either walk home after my bus ride, or get to work and boot up my pc, my mind has turned in other directions, and I'd quite forgotten...until I pick the magazine up again on the next bus ride, ad nauseum.
But this time I didn't forget. I checked out one of the links, and it was better than finding gold at the rainbow's foot. Far better. For this link was to a place called 'The Master's Artist,' a community of Christian writers (and editors). Sundry denominations, ages, genres (fiction and non-fiction), passions--but all 'Master's Artists.' That day I didn't do much more than read over the latest post and read the 'who we are, why we are' article...and that gave me enough to chew on right there for a fair few weeks indeed.
Here, indeed, was a place for the likes of 'misfit freak' me. Not that I can actually be a contributing poster (can't say I'd want to when I hate to write by command), seeing as I'm an unpublished nobody and likely to remain so. But here was a place for me in terms of concept, in terms of viewpoint, in terms of a bigger box I could fit in.
And not just part of me: there's the wonder my mind keeps turning back to, and batting about with a sort of tremulous hope and disbelief. All of me can fit here, not just a box called 'writing' with my visual art side hacked away. All of me. All of me, all of me, all of me. I find myself a bit breathless as this new vista, this new perspective. I don't have to hold the one and shove the other under the carpet--no, my words and my crafts can be like two dogs pulling a load together--working in different ways for the same end. And maybe one of them is the more visible, and one of them gets the more acclaim whilst the other might even be reviled--but I need them both. For God certainly didn't make a mistake by giving me the both!
And there I stand. Reading the daily posts at that place has given me a lot to think about, and a sense of camaraderie with people I have never spoken to. And hope, and encouragement, and support. All this, at a box big enough to fit all my misshapen carcass-innards into.
So yes. I have never been, and I never shall be (save for a lobotomy or body-snatching) a real writer. I am, and remain, a misfit freak. But it doesn't hurt near as much any more, though I'm still shut out on the outside, looking in, unable to be a part in some things I wish I could be a part of.
I, the 'misfit freak' (that God made just so) shall never be a real writer. And I can live with that!