October of 2017 ate me alive and only recently has spit me back out.
So as I re-group and get my weekly blog schedule going again, I am going to just put this amazing powerful holy fuck interview with Melissa Febos right here for you to read...
Some juicy key quotes:
"It is a concern I have heard from countless students and peers, and which I always greet with a combination of bafflement and frustration. Since when did telling our own stories and deriving their insights become so reviled? It doesn’t matter if the story is your own, I tell them over and over, only that you tell it well. We must always tell stories so that their specificity reveals some universal truth. "
"I am complicit. I have committed this betrayal of my own experience innumerable times. But I am done agreeing when my peers spit on the idea of writing as transformation, as catharsis, as—dare I say it—therapy. Tell me, who is writing in their therapeutic diary and then dashing it off to be published? I don’t know who these supposedly self-indulgent (and extravagantly well-connected) narcissists are. But I suspect that when people denigrate them in the abstract, they are picturing women. I’m finished referring to stories of body and sex and gender and violence and joy and childhood and family as “navel-gazing.”
"I polled the audience—a room packed with a few hundred readers and writers. I asked for a show of hands: “Who here has experienced an act of violence, abuse, extreme disempowerment, sexual aggression, harassment, or humiliation?” The room fell silent as the air filled with hands."
"Who was I, a twenty-six-year-old woman, a former junkie and sex worker, to presume that strangers should find my life interesting? I had already learned that there were few more damning presumptions than that of a young woman thinking her own story might be meaningful. Besides, I was writing a Very Important Novel. Just like Jonathan Franzen or Philip Roth or Hemingway, those men of renowned humility.
"Let’s face it: If you write about your wounds, it is therapy. Of course, the writing done in those fifteen minutes was surely terrible by artistic standards. But it is a logical fallacy to conclude that any writing with therapeutic effect is terrible. You don’t have to be into therapy to be healed by writing. Being healed does not have to be your goal. But to oppose the very idea of it is nonsensical, unless you consider what such a bias reveals about our values as a culture. Knee-jerk bias backed by flimsy logic and bad science has always been the disguise of our national prejudices."