“Stories from the Edge of Blindness” was my first real foray into writing non fiction. I decided that I wanted to tell my story in a different way, but to this day I struggle with it. It isn’t the kind of writing that comes most naturally to me.
My first love, as a writer, is poetry. It isn’t that my poetry is magnificent where my non fiction is lacking, but more that poetry is how my mind works. It is how the words form in my brain and flow most naturally from my pen. Poetry is a love affair with language; it is life, and feelings and senses, and experiences, broken up into fragments that bleed and stick to the bones.
I fell in love with poetry in a somewhat cliché, but still powerful way. I was in my early teens and had discovered Sylvia Plath; an icon for depressed and angst ridden teens everywhere, and an absolute genius. I read “The Bell Jar”, and mixed in with the material in the afterward of the book, was her villanelle, “Mad Girls Love Song”. It changed my life. It was then, and is today, a parcel of visceral and imaginative perfection. Like Plath herself, it is at once cloaked and raw. “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead” – simple, complex, powerful and perfect. I was hooked.
I realized I had almost always seen poetry in all kinds of art. I remember going to a Picasso exhibit with my step mother, when I was 9 or 10; I didn’t know anything about art or about Picasso, but one of the paintings in that exhibit taught me what art is really about. The painting is called, “Portrait of Ambroise Vollard“. It is a cubist painting of a bearded man, done in mostly shades of gray and blue. Although the man in the painting doesn’t really resemble my Dad in his features, my Dad has almost always had a beard and, as a 9-year-old, when I saw that painting, I saw a picture of my Dad, steeped in sadness and broken up into fragments. I remember standing in front of the painting for a long time, unable to tear myself away from the image and the emotions it brought out in me. I don’t remember any of the other paintings from that exhibit, but I have never forgotten that one. When I fell in love with poetry, I realized it was, to me, in many ways what that painting was, images in fragments.
For years, all I wrote was poetry and it didn’t occur to me to even try to write anything else, until RP came into my life. After my diagnosis, I tried to write poems about RP, but I couldn’t; perhaps it was all too new or maybe I wasn’t ready to face the reality of it. So, at my husbands suggestion, I started this blog and threw my hat into the non fiction ring. It was slow going; I posted sporadically and initially saw blogging as an obligation, but it has become illuminating and satisfying in ways I had never imagined. “Stories from the Edge of Blindness” has allowed me to exercise and expand my writing voice; I think it has made me a more well-rounded and braver writer. It also helped me get to a place where I could start writing poems about my RP journey.
I will always write and I will always write poetry, but I have realized that my life as a writer can be as diverse as I want it to be; I have even started dipping my toes into the well of short fiction. It can be a challenge to move back and forth between genres, but it is a challenge I now welcome.