"The Story of Body", an essay that I wrote about my ex-life as a child concert pianist, has just been accepted for publication! Because of the speed at which these things operate, it's coming out in the Spring 2022 issue of Colorado Review - which feels way too slow for me, since this is an essay that I can't wait to share.
Because this is a piece that deals with childhood trauma (and the ways that it recurs in adult life), it was really difficult to write. But putting it out in the world has massively changed things for me, both personally, and as a writer. When I shared it with people and observed their responses, I started to gain a clear sense of who was, and wasn't, invested in my journey towards self-recovery. Articulating the parts of myself contained in this essay helped me to pause some relationships that were hurting me, resuscitate once-dead ones, and restructure the dynamics of others that had been around for a long time, but without actually serving me. I got new tattoos; I made new friends (or got to see new sides of my existing ones surface in response to a more forthcoming me); I bought my dream wardrobe; I danced to folk-pop bands from my teenage years while making dinner in my flat. I began to feel that every version of my past self - terrified child me, religious teenaged me, messy young-adult me - were all part of the same person, and all on my side, spurring me on to tell the story of how things came to be. With this essay, my life has slowly begun to look a lot more on the outside like what it has always felt like on the inside - time in its totality rising to the surface of my body, and staying there to make a home.
On the writing front, this essay has made me reconsider what I'm doing with my whole book project. Once "The Story of Body" arrived on the page, I knew with 100% certainty that this was what I wanted to be writing about - this topic, this part of myself. Which made me wonder if the other essays - which I had previously thought might be coming together to make a book - were really nothing more than practice pieces... rote exercises in shoring up history in language. This isn't a question that I've fully resolved yet! I wonder if there isn't some value, after all, in sharing practice pieces with the world - something in it that has to do with being real and vulnerable and human. When I was a child in the piano conservatory, I was often forced to play practice Czerny pieces at public recitals and masterclasses, as a form of intentional humiliation - to show that I wasn't ready for the "real thing" yet. But now that I'm an adult trying for authenticity, and not impressiveness, I'm beginning to think that these metrics of shame don't apply to me in the same way anymore. I don't have to be ashamed of my behind-the-scenes learning, since all that I've ever done, and all that I've ever been, can matter to the journey. Can be worthy of being seen.
So right now, the question of whether there will be a book or not remains an open one for me. I want to see where the work takes me, and what it wants to become... I'm proud of "The Story of Body", and of all the changes that it's brought into my life! And I feel excited for when I'll be able to put a link to it up on my website.