A Web of Truth & Fiction

"I am trying to think of another metaphor to tell you about this sadness, but that is a difficult thing to do. There is nothing beautiful about sadness, you see. There is no poetry in it. She is learning this as she tries to claw holes into the darkness, but the darkness is only her mind and her mind is only a hand clutching at the wrong end of a knife and a knife is only the first starburst of pain at the beginning of a migraine, or perhaps the circumference of a wolf’s endless howl..."

This is an excerpt from a short story that I wrote. I thought it would be a better way to begin this post than the words I am sad, because I feel as if that is somewhat of a refrain in my life, and on the blog.

But here it is, again and again: I am sad. Constantly, it feels like. And no matter how many stories I write, no matter how many poems flow onto the page, there is never enough ink to scrub away the sadness. It is everywhere. In the way of a thing that clogs up my skin, finds its way under my nails, into the lungs and coating the throat until all that I can breathe or speak or sing or scream is sadness. Pervasive. Endless.

It is the worst, I think, during times like these, when I am creating so many things. We had meant to launch Half Mystic's new website this week, and make other announcements. I had wanted to tell you of a project that I have been working on, that I am so immensely excited about. And to share journal publications. And an award that I have won.

All of these things are good. And I should feel good about them.

But the inexplicability, the infinite confusion of it: I don't. Perhaps I can't.

Increasingly, I am learning that sometimes storytelling is teasing out fiction from a web of truth. And increasingly, I am learning how much it is the opposite: that the truth is never far from fiction. I wake up and choke on the realness of depression every day, and this is not fiction, will never be fiction, no matter how much I wish for it to be. But the paradox: I turn it into fiction anyway, string droves of unreality onto the page, as if perhaps putting these words into the mouths of imaginary people might numb this all, if only a little bit, if only for now.

And then: I create Half Mystic and work on projects and submit to journals and win awards for all of these fictional truths, and yet, in the end, it is not enough.

No matter how many beautiful things I create out of this, depression is still the ugliest thing. And there is no way to twist the truth in that.

I could write metaphor after metaphor for the sadness, but none of it compares to the realness of waking up in the morning and knowing nothing but grey. That is the thing, you see. I have so much to be grateful for, and yet the smallest thing tips me into the abyss of despair. Perhaps I am disproportionately wired to feel the sadness far more keenly than any other emotion.

But a thing I know for sure, no perhaps attached: I am wired to tell stories. And there is so much truth in the fiction I write. Too much, I sometimes think.

I am only now coming to realise how much I wish the truth and the fiction were not such a tangled web, or that I might somehow find the happiness glistening in a story I have yet to write, teetering a fragmentary pen's tip away. When I am sad - which is so very often, nowadays - I write stories of sadness, and of unrequited and shattered things. And I think they are beautiful. I do, truly.

But the beauty is not enough to make up for what lies beneath: sadness not in stories, but twined around my wrists, coiled in my throat, too real to choke back or hide. Sadness like a noose. Like the truth at its worst, its harshest, hard-pressed to find any fiction. No words left to mould into softness.