Saturday, April 24, 2021

the last book I ever read (My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir by Jenn Shapland, excerpt thirteen)

from My Autobiography of Carson McCullers: A Memoir by Jenn Shapland:

I often feel bedridden and work from bed. It’s hard to write on the days when I can’t sit up. Sometimes I just feel bad, weak, foggy. Illness is lonely and frequently hard. I’m left with my own ongoing wondering if this sense of loneliness is just me or if it’s a human feeling. I think this is one thing that drew me to Carson’s fiction in the first place. On the page, Carson is at pains to articulate the inarticulable, to find a way to express feelings of isolation, lonelinees, and longing that I associate with queer life, with life as a sick person, and with life as a writer.

I get a lot of sleep, I try not to drink too much, I eat well, I go on long walks for my weak heart, but I am still a queer, sick, writing person—woman—living in the world. I get lonely. I am alone because I don’t have the energy to participate as much as I’d like to, I’m alone because writing demands that I be alone, and I feel lonely because the world that finds its way through to me, via the internet, or invitations I often turn down, or cancelled plans, suggests that life is happening elsewhere. It is someplace outside my home, where I work, and outside my mind, where I often live. It can be lonely to be queer, especially if you choose to forego the usual signposts of a complete life, like marriage and children. And it is lonely to be a writer, to put your work first and your income second in a world that would rather you find a full-time job and earn more money. To stay home, to be sick, to write can make all of my life feel like a place out of time. In Austin, in my twenties, when I needed to remember that the world was still there, that I was still in it, I used to sit out on the porch smoking cigarettes, staring into the middle distance, wondering what my neighbor was doing. In my new, quieter life in New Mexico, I walk outside several times a day to babysit the puny vegetables, or look out at the mountains over our adobe walls.

No comments:

Post a Comment