the one and only truly amazing katster (katster) wrote,
the one and only truly amazing katster

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The Dry Times and How I Got Out...

I don't know if you can see
the changes that have come over me
in these last few days I've been afraid
that I might drift away...

The last two months have been something else. I have been wrapped in a cocoon, going through crystalis, waiting to see what emerges on the other side. I was coming out of the pit of the blackest depression I've ever had, desperately clinging for the wreckage of my psyche to keep from drowning in the cold black waters, and it was all I could do to stay afloat and hang on. It was quite the ride.

I don't know what saved me from that dark sea, but I know somehow I found the enthusiasm and motivation to revisit an old friend in my head. There are characters that have been living there for a very long time, and one of them came out and whispered a few things to me about a project another (this time real life, as opposed to buried in my head) friend had suggested a few months prior, and the character in my head whispered a few things about what might have happened in the timespan we were given, and I wrote a scene. A very basic scene.

It was a start.

So I've been telling old stories, singing songs
that make me think about where I came from
and that's the reason why I seem
so far away today...

You see, from as far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. I told my mother in third grade that I didn't need mathematics because I was going to be a bookwriter. Mom, the future math teacher she was at the time, proceeded to explain the errors in my thought patterns. It's just, through a large chunk of things, I lost that. I don't know exactly when, but sometime in 1998 or 1999, something happened that crashed my enthusiasm in writing. I don't know what it is now, maybe it was just the fear of finishing things, maybe it was something else. I don't rightly remember. But something crashed me rather hard, and the depression fed into it, and I got to thinking.

"I'm really not that good after all."

And while I'm aware that is a pernicious lie, it was something that I firmly believed was the truth. So I put away my childish games, stopped playing with my characters, stopped trying, because every time I did, something would ruin the mood. I let projects I had volunteered for sit idling, unable to write a word if my life had depended on it, and just slouched into the Dry Times. I'm not sure I could explain it to you all if I tried. The Dry Times, though, by its very name, is not a happy place to be.

As best I can tell, I was in the Dry Times for five years. the beginning is fairly nebulous, it's hard to tell you're about to go into a drought as you slide into it, but in the depths of it, the lack of water drains the lake, leaving ugly scars behind. And while it's a metaphorical drought, I grew up in a real one, and I can tell you just how blighted and ugly things get without water -- and that was, I'm sorry to say, the condition of my soul, cracked and burnt under the summer sun.

And every answer was a mistake, and every question was a bitter mockery of who I was. And the raven called for me, repeatedly, demanding his tribute, and it was all I could do to beg him off, scream angrily that I had no coinage of the realm, no talent to give him. I was dead, dammit, dead, dead to the world, can't you see, just let me be, stop bothering me...let me die here in this desert, find somebody else for your nefarious schemes.

And the raven refused. Sunk in my own misery, I took that hard. In the end, though, it was the raven's refusal that lead, eventually, to my recovery.

I have moved and I've kept on moving
proved the points that I needed proving
lost the friends that I've needed losing
found others on the way...

Two thousand and one was a miserable and awful year. It became known as the jackbooted thug among me and my friends, and so much happened that I'm not sure I want to relive. It was the depths of the dry times, my mom had just been diagnosed with cancer, and a bunch of other crap happened. I was still trying to sort out friend from foe, and I didn't know who to trust. It was a pretty miserable year.

I mean, good things came out of it. That was the year I really and truly got to know zibblsnrt. It was the year I met the good and quiet kuangning. And although I wasn't really paying attention, I was growing closer to other friends and further from others, and it wasn't until I woke up that I saw how much the landscape had shifted on me.

But back in those dry times, it was mainly a game of avoiding the raven and trying to hold onto what little parts of me I could. I'm an introvert, and I've grown sharply more introverted in the dry times. I learned who I could trust and what I could trust them with. And it sounds funny now, but as much as I hated it then, the raven provided me a grip on something bigger. In some ways, he was reminding me that no matter what prison I was trapped in, he knew I wasn't the talentless hack I kept trying to portray myself as. In the end, he'd let me help because I had some talent.

I have kissed the ladies and left them crying
Stolen dreams, yes there's no denying
I have travelled hard, sometimes with conscience flying
somewhere with the wind...

Graduate school was a mistake, I think. The biggest mistake it was possible for me to make. I don't fit at SIMS and I'm not sure I'll fit into the world, but I'm sitting here on a precipice. But this last semester, things have changed a bit. I'm still not sure I'll make graduation at the end of this all, but I'm giving it my best shot.
It was right before I started graduate school that the raven demanded tribute and I told him that I was dead, and he refused to let me walk further into that desert that was the dry times. He said, "I'm not losing you. You cannot leave."

It was two years later, last Thursday, in fact, when I handed him a final draft of something that's been wanted for years, now. It was his project that showed me the path out of the desert of the dry times -- a different project, yes, not the one that I'd had no coins for when he'd called for it -- but a writing project nonetheless. It was that first moment when I laid a basic scene out involving a character I'd rarely worked with in the dry times -- but one who meant a lot to me -- that caused the clouds to break and the desert to be saturated with green and growing things. It was that day I woke up on the shore having survived the tempest of my soul. with one scene, one change, one idea, all this happened. And that's where I've been, scribbling frantically on other things. Finding that my old friends -- words and letters and crazy tales in my head -- weren't gone forever, and that they were wondering where I'd been all these long days and weeks and years.

But my guilt at never finishing for the raven never left. And although I was writing again, and the raven hadn't been by to demand his tribute, I remembered. I remembered that day when I was bound and determined to strip every little bit of talent from me, to die in the desert from pain of a dream I'd lost, to turn my back and scream where nobody was going to hear me...and I was told, quite forcefully, that I would pay what I owed, at some point.

The payment's been made in full, and probably with some interest too.

Now I'm sitting here before the fire
the empty room, the forest choir
the flames that couldn't get any higher
well, they've withered now, they've gone...

So here it is. The last week of April, two thousand and four. And I finished. I paid my debt, and I find that I am a writer again. I write. That's what I do. It seems so strange to realize that, to know that I'm not the talentless hack I'm sure I was in the Dry Times. And I owe a very large chunk to a friend who wouldn't let me give up on something when I so wanted to. Now if I could find that motivation for the Project so I can get out of doing something that I so awfully hate...

But yeah, I've woken up, and I've changed. I barely recognize myself anymore, I'm not the same person I was in those dark days of two thousand and one, and I'm most definitely not the same person I was when I entered graduate school in two thousand and two, and I'm not sure I was the same person who rung in two thousand four. I have been changing. I have become different. And it is just about time to emerge and let the world see how I've changed.

But I owe it to a bunch of people -- zibblsnrt, who showed what the metaphor 'port in a storm' meant, kuangning, who met me at my worse and still decided she liked me, too many people to list and name that had influence on my thoughts, but I'm sure they know who they are...

But funny, one of the folks whom I owe this metamorphosis to is somebody whom you would have told me back in the bad old days of one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven that I'd be calling a 'really good friend' would have led me to laugh at you, the raven whom I couldn't shake no matter how desperately I wanted to, and strangely enough, one of the better friends I've had, just simply for not giving up on me -- mrfnord.

But I'm steady thinking, my way is clear
and I know what I will do tomorrow
when the hands have shaken and the kisses flowed
well, I will disappear...

Where to from here? Well, getting that graduation project finished is going to mean something, so that's what I'm trying to do. So you'll have to pardon the rare LJ updating for the next little while. But it dawns on me, that I've been, if not happy, at least *content* for the last two months, and that means something that I'm not sure I can express. I have been stable. I have been writing. I don't know if the two are connected, but if it works, I'll keep hacking on the crazy adventures of Katze -- that old character in my head that gave me something to write about -- and friends, both real and made up.

Here's to hanging onto this.

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