Turning pain into prose

17 Feb

This blog is about writing… not about cliched breakups and men who are jerks. Why? Because there are enough blogs out there that cover this topic. Probably too many. However, I confess that this starts out as a “men who are jerks” missive, but it does go beyond that, so please bear with me.

I’m just starting to get over a “man who is a jerk” because even though I’d only been dating him for a month (which let’s face it isn’t too long), betrayal is still betrayal any way you slice it. So, when I found out that he decided to sleep with his ex-wife the other night, you could say I wasn’t exactly thrilled.  I will spare you the sordid details, but the whole  thing did (finally) elicit a very simple email that attempted some type of apology and the de rigeuer line of “I respect you so much.” And all I could think was, “Phew, thank GOODNESS he respects me, because imagine how he would have behaved if he didn’t respect me? Aren’t I just sooo lucky?”

So while I plot revenge fantasies that of course I won’t indulge in because I’m just not that type of person, and why should I waste my energy on this excuse for a human being anyway?, I’m actually struck by two terrifying thoughts:

1) I saw him the night before his birthday (on his actual birthday the next day, his present was his naked ex-wife – which I guess is difficult to beat in the gift department). However, I’m obsessed with the fact that I gave him a GREAT present and now he has it. THAT makes my blood boil. And you know what that present was? A book of John Donne’s poetry – complete with annotated explanations, and a very good reading of one of them (if I say so myself) to him by yours truly. Yes, the sad part of all this is he was/is a lover of great literature and that of course turns me to butter. Now if only he was into monster trucks and football, instead of Russian novelists and metaphysical poetry, maybe I wouldn’t feel so awful right now. I say to all you other writers out there, how can you NOT fall for a guy who is all about beautiful prose? Ack.

2) In that weird, writerly way (and also a throwback to my drama school and acting days), I find myself obsessing with the minutia of his betrayal and looking for ways to incorporate this in my writing, you know, USE the experience. Not in an “write this stuff about me and I’ll sue the pants off you” kind of way. I don’t think he knows my blog exists anyway, so it’s not like he’d come after me on that level. No, I’m not interested in the cold, hard, facts, which are too painful to talk about anyway. I’m talking about taking kernels, snippets, the essence of the betrayal and crafting them into a short story, or a scene in my novel, or a glimpse into a character. After all, what’s the point of someone treating you like shit if you don’t get to take that experience and use it to your own advantage? Maybe success is the best form of revenge; maybe revenge is indeed a dish best served cold; but I think the best revenge is taking the experience, learning from it, and using it to write even better stories that allow people to connect. Now, if I can somehow combine the images of John Donne, a Harley,  a missing earring, two guinea pigs and the ruthlessness of Jack Bauer, I think I’ll have something unique on my hands. Quentin Tarrantino meets D.H. Lawrence. I’m sure there’s a great story in there somewhere.

In the meantime, to everyone who has been treated like crap by someone who is a piece of crap, I truly empathize. Now, go write about it!


3 Responses to “Turning pain into prose”

  1. Val February 23, 2010 at +00:00TueUTC #

    This is of course why I adore you and still return hopeful that you have a blog post up. I understand this post both from a novel in progress point of view and a true life incident point of view. Apparently you and I are dipping into the same deep, dark emotional ink well. I’m certain you will write your way out of this and into self knowing. 🙂 I’ve missed ya.

  2. bronte13 February 23, 2010 at +00:00TueUTC #

    Thank you! SO glad you are back blogging, too!

  3. kenny benjamin April 27, 2010 at +00:00TueUTC #


    I found myself on your blog and read this story and felt compelled to offer some thoughts.

    We live in a culture where men take up this idea of entitlement with respect to the “emotional ownership” of their past girlfriends, wives, or dalliances.

    It exists within the “code of masculinity” that our boys our taught from the moment they exist the womb.

    I have had numerous conversations with men over the years, outside of the gaze of women, where they quite comfortably and without thought of consequence express their belief that having sex with an ex — doesn’t count–as if it were some kind of free pass or right of birth within a context of male privilege. (Sucks huh?)

    This idea is such a powerfully held cultural discourse of masculinity that men keep secret and to themselves – yet it is pervasive.

    That is a long winded way to express my own personal frustration and sadness for what you experienced and my wish and hope that men could see the pain and hurt that holding such a position always brings….but, sadly this is not an individual problem (although, don’t get me wrong, I think your guy was a dick and any secret and painful intellectual, physical, or visceral form of punishment or retribution that may have been pin-balling through your brain is definitely worth the fantasizing)

    I’m rambling now – but I just felt the need to say something and you suggested writing about it…

    take care,


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