When I look back at this year, I realise that I was the happiest, the most straightforwardly, obviously happy, when I was writing my book. I was also the most unhappy then, fighting with the reluctant matter, often not coping with it, feeling uncreative, stupid and unoriginal. But I also was tremendously happy, because for once I felt that I’m creating something – finally, for the first time in my life I was doing something real. I didn’t feel that when I was writing any term papers, dissertations, essays or newspaper articles. I understood the reason for the frustration I felt for most of my life, at least since I realised I wanted to be a writer, because of all things I knew, reading was by far the most enthralling, and from around the age of six perhaps I knew I wanted to do the same, to create worlds, to put letters and words together, to fill pages, and to produce books with my name on the cover.
I was probably more driven by the idea of being a writer than writing itself – since I remember I wrote constantly in my thoughts, I made up structures, plots, developed characters, situations, sometimes just fragments of dialogue – I’ve read enough of 20th century drama by high school to know that the ripped dialogue was the most contemporary thing there is. But I was afraid to write them down – I never kept a diary for more than a few weeks and it was always a disappointing experience. Some people maybe dream of being writers but are not designed to be them, I was telling to myself as a consolation, but still my young self had no idea, what else it was supposed to be doing instead. Paradoxically I can only blame my privileged coming of age for this, because I went to a private school, first public school in Poland founded by the former members of the democratic opposition, who indulged us as much as they could in our not yet developed and most probably nonexistent ‘talents’.
We were encouraged to read, to write, to experiment, to write plays, even poetry, to read books precociously, academic books, well beyond our age or capacity sometimes. Because I was good in simulating my knowledge on anything else than my only true interest – literature – somehow, I was pushed through the four years of school, though after the years I think they should’ve kept me and make me study maths, physics and chemistry until I’d be so sick of it I’d perhaps have learned something. Unluckily, they didn’t and I left school a dillettante, a dabbler in everything, not really capable of committing to anything. An interesting head, perhaps, sometimes capable of outbursts of interesting ideas, especially about literature, sometimes dabbling in philosophy (to which I also hope they pushed me much more) and there also only choosing stuff that was easily palatable and absorbable for somebody like me, or what read like poetry or literature anyway, like Wittgenstein, Kierkegaaard or Nietzsche, I also strangely liked Descartes and Leibniz; but not really into a prolonged, in-depth sticking to one thing. Then my university, as I wasn’t forced straight away to take up a job (my parents were only hoping that sooner or later I will start doing something; anyway, parents of my friends were much more laissez-faire on this, even gave their children quite straightforwardly money for drugs, let alone expect them to ‘settle down’ with something; so you see in what demoralised circles I spent my youth) so for way too long I was drifting from one lecture to another, from one department to another, again, never really committed, never really rooted in anything.
At the same time my personal life was hopeless; it was a string of inappropriate men, whom I was choosing with only one criteria in mind: they had to be somehow unobtainable. Because then, this way you can continue this ‘not really committing to anything’ thing forever, also in other parts of your life. With the writing it lasted at least until I was 21 and published my first article. I liked it so much that I nearly slept with the issue of the magazine (books and zines were definitely more often guests in my bed than men and perhaps, for the best). Not until I was 22 I got a regular gig, in reviewing things for a literary pop-zine, that was quite respected and then had a few failed attempts of a writing career with the mainstream press, when in the end they were never really happy with the stuff I proposed them. Curtain.
Then fast forward to 2010 and I come to the UK to be with the boy I adore. Somehow the fact of ‘committing’ to somebody at last started to slowly change my commitment to what I want to do. But slowly. He’s a writer and everybody we know are also ‘writers’, more or less realistically. I still publish sporadically in the Polish press, but I’m less and less good at keeping any deadlines… Then, in January 2011, my first article in English press is published, in The Wire, on Polish punk. Somehow I got through another 3 years, but my writing in English is still too studied and not really adventurous, and even though I publish in my second language, I often hate this language for the fact how unimaginative and crap I am in it.
As most of the time I’m ridden with anxiety, shame and lack of self-confidence, writing the book gave me illusionary confidence for 6 months, when I was writing it, after which, when I put the last sentence to my file, it suddenly evaporated as abruptly as it suddenly appeared. Summer was really difficult – despite going for a vacation to nice places, I regularly checked the manuscript (now sent to several people asking them for an opinion, so I couldn’t really make changes anymore) and was ridden with the worst self-doubt about its true quality. Then I realised I wrote the book in the first place, because I wanted to get rid of this poxy feeling – if I still didn’t, maybe it means I should wait for the time, when I simply just want to write? People want to write for all sorts of reasons, not all of them ‘clean’, and most of the time very unclean. I was telling to myself, that the reason I constantly want to prove myself to the world (to the one I love, to the people whose love & respect I want to deserve) is because I’m a woman, I find myself always lacking something, always not good enough. I was hoping that writing a book, an accomplishment after all, will save me from the constant thinking that I suck. ‘There it is, see? Your achievement. Now nobody, not even you, can doubt your capacities. Nobody can take it from you now. It’s eternal.’
Perhaps that’s why I have all kinds of doubts concerning the recent ‘ecriture feminin’, that spreads through the internets and is clearly the new hot thing in town. I envy other women capability of writing their ‘selves’ in a language. It has in addition to do with my English: which I still feel and I know is shaky, wobbly, more mine than ever but still not coming from my guts, not growing out of my skin. Its funny, how those body metaphors come immediately to mind, isn’t it the worst cliche of women’s relation to the world, as physical? Maybe in English I’m a “man”? I’m cerebral, intellectual, cold, I’m washed off emotions, gutsy feelings or sex. Jesus, only not writing about sex, please. Unlike many others, language makes me strangely puritanical – as soon as I have to put this into words, I get frigid. In the end I think it’s to the contrary, writing takes out a strange truth about ourselves, maybe not always the truest truth, but a truth of a sort nonetheless.
Somehow, I want to pursue this English language thing, it excites me, it’s a challenge. Since I love in English, I feel that only in this language I can now possibly tell the truth. In Polish I would be lying. I lost capacity to say things the way I want to in Polish, but as you can see everywhere, didn’t yet developed the full capacity in English. I write like a drunken hippo trying to move graciously in a china shop, walk like a monkey trying to wear man’s clothes. Nearly normal, but…not quite. Well, as you can see, this can be unpredictable at least. So this is what has become of me: used to be fluent in one language and crap in the other, now I’m crap in both.
But it has to end somewhere, sometime. I feel now is really the time. Since I wrote the book I embarked on several outbursts of depression and despair, thinking that it’s crap and everybody will discover my impressionistic, fragmented style which is there only to conceal my fragmented knowledge, the holes in my memory and unfinished studies. Most of the time I feel gagged really, suffocating, feeling the growing bubble of void within myself, and I basically feel that if I wont let it go sooner or later, I’ll just explode. So here it is: a sick, doomed and pointless attempt at not letting it happen. Dial a cliche: here I come, another frustrated, empty, narcissistic female blogger.