I just finished reading a review of mine, published only recently though I wrote it quite some time ago. It surprised me. Why? Because it’s a pretty decent piece of writing, and I have absolutely no sense of being the person who wrote it.
Okay, I know I wrote it—I remember working on it–and it’s in my computer review files. But: If you threatened me with the gallows right now—if you said: Write that review again here “or else,” I’d have to take the knotted noose from your hands, place it around my own neck, and jump.
This feeling of complete alienation doesn’t happen as much when I read my published poems again (though there are occasions), but it always occurs when I revisit essays or critical prose (yes, even blog entries though they feel more casual.) I simply cannot connect to the self who conjured those words. (You may have experienced a similar disconnect when looking at papers from your college days—your thesis perhaps!)
After all these years I am still baffled to realize there are at least two distinctly separate selves living inside this writer. And they don’t really know each other all that well.
Getting them to sit down to a cup of coffee together doesn’t help. Huh, my quotidian self mutters when I see some obscure verb I somehow used in an especially clever way. How did “she” come up with that? (Quotidian-self never has the answer.)
“She” is the self who lives in “the zone” (or she can at least access it from time to time.) Zone-self also has a full-time secretary who looks things up—a diligent worker, confined to a small chamber in my own left frontal lobe, who lives for revision alone; her favorite reads are any and all forms of reference materials. She also happens to be a bigamist—married at present to Webster’s unabridged, as well as to both Roget’s and Rodale’s Synonym Finder. (Fortunately this worker-bee never needs to eat or sleep—she’s on call whenever the zone-self beckons, 24/7. (I know—now I’ve identified three selves—so far. Is there a doctor in the house?!)
But: Back to the review: Will somebody give it a gold star?—my mother, perhaps? my lanky high school English teacher, Mr. Dudley Igo? (Where I go they go…where they have gone I shall go…) Even if they did, even if they could, the writer who receives it will never be the starry-eyed one who is nervously sipping a cup of green tea on this pleasant autumnal morning, 2011—the one currently poring over this short blog entry (delaying a long string of errands that must begin with the arrow pointing to “empty” and thus a visit to the Arco for gas)—the same one scratching her head while trying to figure out how to coin a new word: “schizo-writerac.”