As you know, guest bloggers appear on my site twice a month. For the months of August, September, and October, my guests will be discussing the same topic:
When and why did you begin writing?
This week we’ll learn a little bit more about Topaz Winters. Thanks, Topaz!
It’s like this: there is a fascination I have, an obsession almost, with things that stay the same.
I’m talking about stories, the things that are real, the things that remain when the rest has willed away already to unknowing. Do you ever notice, in this peculiar fast-paced existence of ours, how many things change irrevocably in the quickest, softest moments? This, I have come to believe, is the nature of the universe. How it’s all moving, it’s never the same, you go to bed one night, you wake up the next morning & suddenly your own soul is a stranger, you’re making small talk with the deepest parts of yourself.
I want forever. I want eternity in an impossible, longing way. In a way, I could never hope to find.
I’ve been told this is what makes me a poet. I’ve also been told this is what makes me a sad person. I am not quite sure whether they are one & the same.
But there are enduring things. (And I have to believe this. And I have to remind myself this, my anxious & fast-moving head, this mind of mine that has never understood how to stop wondering, wandering, worrying, say it soft, like—there are some things that stay. There are always things that stay.)
I need those infinities, those rare constants I’ve found so fleeting in this existence. I need stories.
It’s like this:
there was a boy I loved who read me poetry at two in the morning when I was on the verge of a panic attack, and those words stayed long after the boy had drifted away. It’s like this: seven books are stacked high on my nightstand, and they’re all partially read, the way I revel in the reassurance that their contents will not change no matter the terror of the world spinning around them. It’s like this: yesterday I read a book from my childhood & it felt like coming home. It’s like this:
stories stay when nothing else does.
How they are the steadfast glue that holds together our uncertain panging myopic world.
This is a very romantic way of putting the fact that I am bone-deep heart-quake terrified of the piercing unknown. That this terror is natural is, of course, no help at all: I am only human, only like everyone else in feeling scared & alone & weightless in the universe.
See, I fall in love with writing—not just poetry, not just novels, but stories in all of their forms—because it teaches me that not everything is destined to leave. That not everyone is searching for an escape route.
There is nothing fictional about the infinity within the written pages. I treasure things that remain because so few do.
(And say stories like you say compass, like you say little black dress, the deliciousness of night driving, slow-drip honey Sunday mornings, like lucky penny & the boy next door’s cat who is ugly but beautiful if you ask him, say it like you’ll never fall out of love with the person you first kiss, like hopscotch & carousel rides & your grandfather’s homemade milkshakes & the exquisite pleasure of the song on the radio that never seems to be overplayed: that’s what stories are. The inevitability, the permanence of them. Something that never changes in a world that never stops changing.)
I have these fits of panic whenever I don’t write enough, deep in the stomach where the soul lives. I need the reminder of stories, I’ve learned. If I don’t hold onto it, if I don’t harness it & clutch it tight to my chest & whisper to myself, over & over, here is something endless, something real—I’m lost. Adrift in the sea of the ever-flowing universe—how you blink and suddenly the ground beneath your feet is gone.
But here. Take these stories.
And hold them to your chest & feel how they are solid, unshakeable. And let yourself forget the horizon you can never quite touch. And let the stories fill your vision, reach for them as a kind of knowing.
And everything could still change in an instant, and you are not free, and the sky may fall on your head at any moment, and there is no way of knowing the wonder or the terror that lies ahead.
But you can see the stories that stay when all else is left behind. And the stories, the stories, the ever-present stories—they have always been enough.
Topaz Winters was born in 1999. She writes big poems in small packages. She resides in Singapore, at topazwinters.com, and on Twitter @topazwinters.