I can’t remember how exactly it worked it’s way into our conversation, but at some point my Mom admitted to me that my poem, Bits and Pieces, gave her nightmares. Say what!? I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that something I wrote had that kind of power, or the fact that I considered that as “power”.
For those of you who don’t already know, Bits and Pieces is a poem that I wrote for Britney Gunderson’s book A Broken World. I haven’t posted it on my blog, and I don’t plan to. I will however include it in my book that I’ll be finishing… Sometime… Hopefully soon-ish. The poem turned out ok, but after seeing it in print I realized that it needed a couple more rounds of editing and… Not important, I’m getting sidetracked… The book is mainly a collection of factual and fictional domestic violence themed stories and poems.
My contribution was a poem, about a woman dealing with multiple forms of abuse, told in first person. I was pretty excited to get it into a book, so of course I told my family about it. They asked to read it, I changed the subject and avoided the question.
And that worked on everyone aside from my Mom. She persisted until the point where I told her flat out that it’s not something she would enjoy. It’s not something I would be comfortable with her reading. It’s not something that I would want to hear her reaction to.
She kept on, so I sent her the book version. My Mom quickly read it, gave me some generic compliment, and we pretty much didn’t talk about it again until now. Hearing that “I had nightmares for a while after reading that” was equally satisfying and unsettling. Why is that? Has anyone else felt this before? I mean, yes, I write things to push boundaries. And I intentionally try to turn stomaches at times. But still, it’s shocking when it actually happens. And even more shocking when I realize that I’m happy (sometimes more, sometimes less) that it happened.
I’m fully convinced that you can completely separate the artist from their work. I don’t necessarily believe that someone who writes about horrific acts has any intention or interest in commiting them. As I write this, there are 4 stories that I’ve had to put down and slowly pick away at, bit by bit, because of how disgusting the concept was to me. This was different. This was… A sense of accomplishment?
And you know what? I can accept that. Funny that it took me writing this out to fully come to grips with it, but yeah. I can handle someone being disgusted by something disgusting that I’ve written. Now the real question is, how will I feel/react when someone’s feelings oppose my intentions? I should be able to chalk it up as a mere misinterpretation. Honestly, some stories I purposely leave open to interpretation. But what about the others? How am I going to feel? How should I feel? What do you think?
Until next time, who else is broken?
P.S. If you’re interested in reading an early edit of the story that gave my mother nightmares you’ll get this book! Eventually, someday, I’ll finish my own book and maybe possibly kind of sort of consider adding the final draft to it.