Friday, March 26, 2010

Essay on Why I Write (Personal) Short Version

At the end of last year, I entered another contest on 'Why I Write', as usual I So I decided that since it doesn't seem to be publishable, I'll share my story here on my blog. To those of you that read it on TNBW, it's the Short Version.

To those that aren't on TNBW, my writing workshop site, this is why I write. It's not a sweet story but it's my story. Remember, this was a long time ago. I'm much happier now.

My mother’s a bitch.

Although, I suppose that term isn't really correct. My online therapist suspects she suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder but what does he know? He treats psych patients in a chat room at a dollar ninety-nine a minute. In a roundabout way, though, my mother is why I started writing.

One of my earliest memories is being a little kid and my mother accusing me of not brushing my hair. Somehow, we ended up on the floor, nubby carpet rubbing the back of my bare calves while she held a giant pair of sewing scissors up to my face, an inch from my eyes. The finger grips were calico, a swirl of black and orange.

If you want to be ugly, I'll make you ugly.

She grabbed a handful of my hair, her knee pressed into my chest and the scissors flashed open. I kicked out, tried to wiggle away. My nails dug into her muscled arms. Tears and snot flowed down my face in great sticky drips. I couldn't breathe. She yanked my hair. I shoved at her knee, needing it to move. I mouthed the words ‘no' over and over.

You don't tell me what to do, you little bitch.

I bit her.

She jerked away and I ran up the hallway, a dark tunnel of cheap wood paneling. I opened the door to my room, slammed it shut behind me, turned the lock. I burrowed into the closet, past trash bags of summer clothes and old purses, and waited in a far corner for her to come and kill me.

She howled at the door, "Let me in or you'll be sorry. I‘ll make you sorry."

The door shook under the pounding of her fists but it held. It held. I shivered.

Then, the bedroom door swung open with a rusty squeak. I whimpered, biting my lip bloody. Hands reached for me, grabbed at my ankles, my sleeve. I think I screamed. She'd come to get me.

Only it wasn‘t her, it was my older sister. Sis managed to take me home with her but the incessant calls, the threats, became too much for her. She brought me home three days later. My belly hurt.

My mother waited in the kitchen. She smiled like I'd been at summer camp and wrapped her arms around me, tight. She hugged me forever. My arms stayed limp at my sides.

Tell me you love me. You're my baby, my favorite. Tell me you love me. Tell me you'll never leave me again. Tell me.

I'll never leave you. No matter where I am, I'll never be able to get you out of my head.

I started writing to escape.

First, I wrote a diary but she read all my papers so I converted my ideas into poetry. Eventually, I branched into fiction even though I know I'm not a natural writer. I don't have a gift for quaint turns of phrase or stunning prose but I do have a love for the craft. Writing lets me make everything beautiful.

And I wanted the world to be beautiful for once.

Instead of a vent for my pain, my writing is an avenue for the best of me. I write romance. I love a happy ending. But I can write horror as well. I've been intimate with darkness and as much as I crave sweetness, I know most of us have pain lurking beneath our bright smiles. You can't ignore pain but you can shape it into something useful.

My bad days now are the days I can’t write. I need the words. They keep the silent dreams away. They make it possible for me to function as a real person, a kind person. I need to be kind. I need to make my pain useful.

But writing can't just be therapy. Writing needs to ripen ideas so they can fall from the vine, ready to be crushed into something better. It needs to be an act of creation, not destruction.

That creation is what saves me. And no matter how much I wish I could shrug off the past like some old snake skin, I just can’t. Instead I deal with it the only way I can, I put it on paper. In some strange way, I guess I have to thank my mother for my writing. She isolated me from everyone so I turned inward and ‘inward’ is a fascinating place full of strange roads.

She gave me the suffering I turned into art.

I still don't think I can be grateful though.

The woman's a bitch.


  1. Tirzah you are beautiful and your warmth and humour oozes through in your writing.

    Here, with these words on screen, I'm sending you a version of a non-hugging hug (because I know you don't like hugs).

    Some women are just not cut out to be Mothers. Though physically, they did 'the job' of giving birth to you, they may fail in all other areas of 'being a Mum' and all that entails.

    I'm sending love to the little girl who went through the things you described. She didn't deserve to be treated that way. It wasn't her fault. She just got unlucky with her allocation in the Mother department.

    You have to learn to start seeing yourself through your own eyes, instead of the eyes of your Mother.

    She was an angry woman, not cut out for the job of being a Mum.

    Love you xxx

  2. A great opening sentence - it set the tone perfectly and had me wanting to read more. So glad that you are now in a happier place.

  3. Wow! Very powerful and inspirational. To live through pain and find a way not to just express it but to imagine what you want in such a beautiful way.

    :) Ang

  4. C'mon Tirz. Write something funny. I like it when you make me chuckle. :)

  5. well put and I have to disagree, you do have a gift for putting it all together.
    All good writers seem to go through a bunch of crap at the beginning.....makes us all withdrawn and slightly crazy-like!