I finished playing Gone Home last night, and I have been thinking about it here and there all day. One of the things that jumps out at me from a narrative perspective is how incredibly lonely the narrative is. The main character, Kaitlin, doesn’t really get to interact with anyone else. She is alone in the house. The voice of her sister, reading her journal entries as more content is unlocked, is somewhat haunting as Kaitlin searches the house in hopes of figuring out where her sister has run off.
I found the sister’s journals somewhat haunting, like the past itself. It was such a trip down memory lane, thinking about Riot Grrrls and ‘zines and what it felt like to be a teenager in the mid-nineties. I remember a certain loneliness as a teenager, locked in my room, listening to music (I was particularly fond of Sonic Youth, especially enjoying that whole spoken word vibe), or watching the latest episode of The X-Files. Truth: I used to watch The X-Files with my mom, curled up on the foot of her bed. Shit was spooky (lolz). I was also very lonely in my writing. I started writing poetry rather fiercely at 16 and kept up my journals, sometimes writing on average of a poem a day for awhile there. When I started undergrad, I began to attend poetry readings, and get up and read my work there. It was new and exciting for me, putting out there what I always had kept so close.
I think at first I was afraid of putting myself out there like that. I would read the words so fast just to get through them. But the audience can’t hear you, really, when you do that. It doesn’t help that I talk fast and triple my speeds when I have had caffeine, either. I talk too fast and sometimes swallow the ends of sentences. Even worse is when I swallow the punchlines, because I am really quite funny. But also it is a difficult thing to find your reading voice, to really get your words and meanings across in the way you intend them. It took me a really long time to find that.
After a long hiatus from writing poetry and loving being a writer and performing my words for others, I returned to it. I needed to get my voice back after my failed marriage (successful independence). I needed to feel like myself again. I felt done (and I mean completely through) with having anything to do with being a “we.” It’s such an easy trap to fall into, and I just don’t want to feel trapped like that ever again. I mean, couple stuff is fine and all, but morphing into a we is kind of like turning into a monster, and not awesome like becoming Voltron or something. Anyway, yeesh, moving on from that merry sunshine, the point is, I found my voice again.
I re-discovered my voice though a Cincinnati group called Creativa. Creativa brought me back to life in 2008, when I had just moved back home and was struggling to find my bearings. My mom read about them in the newspaper, I think? And she told me, “Hey, you should go to this.” It sounded interesting, so I went. I was amazed at the variety of art being showcased: poetry, fiction, paintings, music, dance, etc. There were no limits to what you could do there, except for one: no hate speech. I immediately felt welcomed and at home with this group.
Once I started looking forward to their monthly open mics, the best thing happened: I started writing again and really loving the experience. Even when it’s hard, I love writing, maybe even especially then, because it’s worth getting those difficult words out. So much better than holding them in, where they serve only to hold one back. Haha, getting maudlin again. This community of writers helped me to enjoy writing again. To love the sound of my words falling on a crowd that just wants to go home already. Or to hear clapping that is enthusiastic for my words, and not an awkward response to the fact that I have stopped speaking. Or to bask in the atmosphere of a creative space and how sometimes the most unlikely places will feel like home.
Since getting back into writing, since taking my life back, learning how to find my voice… I have gone to grad school, earned my Masters degree, I have traveled to Europe, I have made new friends, and lost others. Essentially, life has happened, all around, and all the while I was finding my voice. And now I am trying to figure out what to do with it.
So, what does this have to do with the initial thoughts of loneliness? I feel like that loneliness has followed me for a very long time, and I have grown rather weary of it. Writing is such a solitary experience, and it doesn’t have to be. I always write better when I’ve been around other writers. I think the folks I like to hang around have this tendency to recharge me, rather than drain out my creativity.
Right now I am working on expanding this idea. Inviting other writers, other artists, to come in and collaborate. The idea of a community of artists working together to help initiate positive changes has always appealed to me. I think that’s one of the things that always spoke to me as I listened to Riot Grrrl songs, the thought of being part of a revolution. I always felt so isolated in landlocked conservative Ohio. But I am not alone here. I never was. I just needed to speak up, quit rushing through my words, and learn how to raise my voice.