The following is a guest post by Jarred Thompson, whose poetry appeared in Issue 11 of Typehouse.
Creative writing is an act of love, and like any act of love it comes with a sense of anxiety and intimacy. You wonder whether the words will obey your creative ambition or whether they will betray you on the page, ending up stillborn and stale. Yet, despite the fear that comes with performing such an act, there is a momentary sense of fulfilment after a creative work has been completed. This moment of fulfilment reveals itself in the images and sketches of human life that the writer has created on the page. Creative fulfilment is so enticing, so indulgent, that I find myself feeling satiated for a brief moment in time.
But, like any sense of fulfillment, this moment of Elysian happiness fades as the creative mind seeks new stories, images, and experiences to relate into fiction. A writer’s life is one that can never be totally fulfilled and this is the burden that all writers and artists must bear. For it is that sense of lack (that sense that the story could be told better, richer, fuller) that we return to the page to press our hearts and minds to it in the hope that the right words may capture the elusive dog that barks in our dreams. As Robert Frost once put it:
We dance around the ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
My poems featured in the latest issue of Typehouse have a lot to do with secrets. When I wrote Condition I was meditating on the secret lives that gay men live. The poem takes place in a gay bathhouse, a place designed exclusively for unattached, anonymous sex. Throughout the poem there’s a questioning to the exact conditions that bring gay men to these places where their secret sex lives may be performed. I wondered what was it about being gay and being trapped in a closet of patriarchy that forced gay men to “plant secrets in each other,” to open themselves up to strangers in a desperate effort to attain pleasure and a sense of escape. What were we trying to escape so desperately? When I wrote the serenity of a toilet cubicle I was contemplating the division between the private self and the public self and how incessantly the one demands to be the other.
It seems then that a writer’s vocation is to give breath and voice to secrets; to unearth them and allow metaphor or imagery to transcend them. Creative writing creates a sense that we may never capture the kernel of truth in the middle of our lives, but the pursuit of it is a never-ending dance that empties our lives but fills our dreams.