I am not my writing, my therapist made me say. But even as my lips formed the words, my heart disagreed, and strongly. Of course I am my writing; my writing is me, excavated from my guts. What could be more me than my writing, I ask myself indignantly, alone in my condo. I say this aloud, and the dog wags uncertainly at the emotion in my voice.
Before therapy, the introspection would have ended right there: the therapist is wrong, I am right. But it is after therapy and what’s more, after forty on the biological clock, and the introspection continues, albeit in the voice of the therapist-that-is-wrong: OK, so if I am in fact my writing, what does my writing say about me?
I go to my writing to have a look….. and my writing tells me I am a lot of things that I know that I am not, that I wouldn’t want to be: a vampire who kills his dog and then his sister, a rapist-hunting werewolf , a woman who falls in love with her tapeworm, a man who makes a deal with the devil, a dead girl on a riverbank, surrounded by cattails stinking in the sun.
Does the character create the story, or does the story create the character? A writer should know, but I do not: like a Mobius strip, the answer simply melds into the question, which becomes, again, the answer.
But what if I threw your writing away, said the therapist, reasonably. You’d still be here; you would survive the experience of the disappearance of your writing, would you not? You are NOT your writing, she said. You are MORE than your writing.
When she tells me the news that she is leaving her practice, I wonder who she will become. I see her only once more, this woman who is not a therapist. It is two years later, at a restaurant. I spot her across the room, eating pasta primavera with a handsome older man.
I pause at her table as my party leaves the restaurant. Hi, Jane, it’s good to see you, I say shyly, and she looks at me with a smile and utterly blank eyes and says, I’m sorry – who are you?