Among the qualities that commonly draw me to a particular writer, artist, or thinker, there is one that allows me to develop a unique affinity for the individual and a special appreciation for his or her work. It is a dimension of personality (or, perhaps, it is more) that, once I uncover it in another—in a woman writer in particular—produces within me a startling, almost euphoric moment of recognition: I can’t believe it! She’s just like me! These moments are rare, but when they do happen, they carry with with them a sense of momentary bliss. I’ve found my tribe. Among those I’ve been reading lately, I have found that this trait (or mix of traits) was present very powerfully in Anaïs Nin, which is one of the reasons I’ve mentioned her work several times on this blog (and feel as though I have become an informal Nin scholar). The first several pages of Henry and June very well could have been torn from my own journal. I am also discovering that Coco Chanel, whose biography I began reading last weekend, seemed to possess this same quality, which, in the words of her biographer, is described as a “strangely flexible, self-aware talent.”
The propensity to which I am referring is a desire and an ability to adopt personas, to experiment with different ways of being, a vast and all-consuming curiosity that drives one to constantly become without losing the core of oneself entirely. For me, it is a mode of self-fashioning: an insatiable quest for knowledge about my environment—about what it feels like to be different people—coupled with a burning desire to actualize. I try different habits, styles, and perspectives on for size, incorporate what will improve me into my repertoire, and scrap the rest. I regard this chameleon-like streak in my personality as both the source of my ability to continually elevate my style of living and as the source of my greatest eccentricities. It’s my weird. And, overall, I see this flexibility as a kind of strength, though I surely will not, in this lifetime, be able to wield it with the same deftness as Mademoiselle Chanel.
The need to self-fashion—because it is a need—has been part of the fabric of my being since at least early adulthood, when I first recognized that, with some work, I could master the processes of self-improvement and refinement. There is no creative activity I enjoy more than the making of myself. And there is none more toilsome and painful. I wonder if it isn’t a need for suffering that concurrently drives such efforts.
At any rate, it’s becoming clearer to me that self-improvement for self-improvement’s sake isn’t enough. It’s a gratification that wanes over time. I need to make something. To enact something greater than myself. And while I still grapple with the question of how to most effectively accomplish that on career-related terms (Do I try to become a full-time writer? Teacher? Psychologist? Entrepreneur—again? Or, all of the above? I’m leaning toward “all of the above.”), I find myself drawing closer to an idea for another, simpler kind of project. A writing project that, in many ways, is an offshoot of this one. It is born of what, as of late, has felt like an urgent desire to transcend myself creatively. To take the women I have been, the woman I am, and morph them into a voice that is more powerful, more sensual, more woman—in her totality—than perhaps I ever could be. I want to write her. I want to celebrate her. I want to fashion her, to liberate her imagination, her intellect, her sexuality and simultaneously refine their edges.
Make no mistake—I want to write her in a way that I have never seen her written before. In a way that is as true to my own voice, my imaginings, and my convictions as possible. Even truer than I am, at times, here on The Used Life. I am giving her her own blog, and it is called The Vixen Diaries.
You are all invited to follow. (I have not yet published the first post, but it is coming very, very soon.) The followers of this blog who enjoy erotica may particularly like the new one, as much of its content will be adult. I have no idea if I will be successful in this new endeavor, but I’ll give it my all and see where it leads me, if anywhere. Of course, I will still be posting here on The Used Life.
My only shot at successfully enacting the creative vision that is now taking shape in my mind is to approach it sans inhibition. To give myself over to this project in a way that allows for the possibility of total abandon. As I was brainstorming ideas for this discussion, I scribbled the following lines, which seemed an apt description of just that desire—and for concluding this post:
I want to drown
In a hot dream,
Lose my breath
In the obsidian deep,
Where lucid hands
Can’t save me.