Writing THE Spill, and Now… What to Do with It?

I feel guilty recently for not posting more content other than samples. This is for two reasons: I’ve been hashing out my WIP (with help from http://campnanowrimo.org/), and I haven’t had much else to write about. I haven’t been considering processes or style… even though perhaps I should be.

However, the other day, I took a break from my WIP. I don’t know what inspired it, but I woke up, lay in bed for a while, then rolled over to write what I would later be told is called a “spill.” The text narrated the morning my ex-fiance attempted to murder me in May 2010.

One of the reasons I wanted to start writing short narratives in the first place was so that I could write this narrative. It’s something I kick around often. However, whenever I’m angry enough to construct something, to begin to lace the words together in my mind, I am not in the position to write: I am driving, or lying in bed, or walking somewhere. I tell myself the words will keep, but, of course, they do not. I’ve come up with some real zingers, and lost them.

What I wrote the other morning was just a spill. It was a straight narrative describing the events and a few key thoughts. I did not reflect, I did not flesh out the details, nothing like that. It felt good to get it out on paper, but it did not have any literary value for anyone who did not know me personally. I looked at the stack of papers, unsure of what I wanted to do with them. Burn them? Develop them? Share them with friends? Publish online? Seek wider publication? In its current state, I just wanted to throw them in a manila envelope and forget about it. It’s not important enough to publish.

But apparently that opinion is wrong.

I have a friend who survived an MFA program. I usually go to him to kick ideas around. I asked him if he could help me think of a way to make it more “stylized.” He asked me if I believed the material ought to be more stylized, and explained the concept of “grit lit.” I told him about my trouble finding the anger I needed to write it properly.

He suggested I play around with it in different forms, and not approach it as a short story. He jokingly suggested a Haiku, and I discovered that the most disturbing part of the attack was, actually, a Haiku:

“I love you, Bridgette
Lauren Lewis, and I am
Going to kill you.”

But that is beside the point.

Originally, I did not intend to include any reflection in the narration, any afterthought, or include anything that occurred after the attack. The thing that bothers me most about narrating this incident is how I handled it after the immediate danger was gone, how I handled the entire situation. Apparently, though, that is the most important part of the story, and why I need to get it out in the first place.

Me: Sometimes I wonder if I should write it as an essay instead, but I lack the insight. If I wrote an essay, I would have to explain what happened afterward, and I don’t want to do not.

JL: Why not?

Me: Because I’m ashamed.

JL: Of what?

Me: That as soon as the police got there, I turned into *that* woman again.

I lost the resolve of self-preservation

And I got him out of jail.

And I’m ashamed of that.

JL: Good … then write that.

Me: I’m thinking horrible things in your direction right now >_<

JL: I’m sorry if it’s painful, if it tears you up, if it riddles you with shame …

… but if you’re going to write this story and have it be any good, you have to be brutally honest.

You turned into “that woman,” and you’re ashamed of it — well, that’s an emotion worth exploring. And I think it’s pretty important for you to go digging into all the reasons why you stayed in the relationship, despite how bad it was.


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