Does anyone aside from me remember that slang for copying someone?
I can still hear cries of middle school kids, so seriously hollering “DON’T BITE FROM ME BITER”
So I’m biting today and I’m biting one of my favorite things, the Where I Write entries from The Rumpus.
Where I write has changed so much over the years. I remember writing in secret. I kept many diaries and wrote tiny stories. I wrote my first dirty story in the fifth grade because it was funny and I got in trouble. I believe that is around the age I started writing in secret.
I wrote little stories on scraps of paper then tore them up and flushed them or whatever.
I remember writing knock off stories, I tried to write like the people I was reading. I remember sitting in the library under a book shelf and writing a little thing pretending to be Celie from the Color Purple.
I remember writing it as a diary entry starting with the line, “I sho am ugly”.
As I got older I wrote other things. I wrote the little poems we studied in school. I wrote my secret stories.
In high school I wrote torrid stories full of Anne Rice style smut. Stories full of men with rippling muscles and tender assholes, women with heaving huge nippled breasts.
I wrote other filthy little things about my Muses who in my mind were shirtless James Dean and Marlon Brando look alike slaving away for my amusement.
The girls were gentle creatures who looked like a woman I had an awful crush on.
I wrote more poetry, most often in a fancy tapestry covered three ring binder in which I kept my expensive pale grey college ruled paper and two dollar purple ink pens. The poetry I began to keep and laboriously print as neat as I could, then when I could get hold of postage sent them to magazines who’s addresses I copied out of the back of old copies of Poets and Writers.
I used a pseudonym because I was embarrassed. I neglected to put a return address or return postage lest my parents find out I was trying to be a poet.
I thought I would get in trouble or get one of those talking to’s that my parents were very good at that made me feel like the worst bit of filth on earth.
I don’t remember if I ever got published.
The first poem I took credit for was a hand wringing poem full of baby queer post teenaged angst about this older woman whom I wanted to fuck so much I couldn’t speak to her when I saw her and how awful it was that she was so nice to me. The zine is long gone, I no longer have a copy.
After high school I still wrote somewhat in secret, always in the cheap notebooks you can buy at the dollar store. At some point I would sometimes go to one of the public poetry readings and read. I wasn’t comfortable for many reasons, among those the constant questions from my peers as to why I was a Slam poet (as all good Black poets must be apparently) and the misfired compliments about how well I speak.
Something changed in my early 20’s. I learned that I would have to work hard. (See my essay about that and thanking Tony DuShane for rejecting me here at the Legendary). By then I had a job and I started writing at work.
That was more than ten years ago and I’ve moved from carting around 3.5″ floppy disks, to thumb drives, to stashing my new work in never used email accounts.
Here I am.
I write at work, behind the Death Star as my department is fondly known. Sometimes I take out my dollar store paper notebook and my special purple pen and I write sitting outside of Starbucks before work. Sometimes I sit and write as I take my hour bus ride home.
My header up there is a picture out of one of my notebooks from a day when I was at Cafe Ladro in lower Queen Anne a few blocks from where I work.
At 34 years old, I realize that I am still obsessed. I still have to write things, I write my shitty brain vomit poems, I write my essays, I write my weird stories. It still feels right and correct. I don’t have to remind myself as often that I don’t have to be famous or listed everywhere. I just have to do my thing.
Apparently this turned into less Where I write and more I Write. That’s fine.