If you’ve read my blog for a long time, you’ll know that there are stories I want to tell, but I give many excuses: I’m perpetually blocked, I’m not the writer I thought I was, I just don’t have time.
But my favorite excuse is that the story I want to tell isn’t quite ripe yet. That I’m not ready. So what has happened is I’ve put off exploring these ideas for far too long.
In the past, I’ve wanted to revisit and rewrite my manuscript from graduate school. But we write the specific story that we must write — that we have to write — at a particular moment in time, and what I wrote in 2006 isn’t what I want and need to write in 2016.
As I watch San Francisco transform into a place I no longer identify with, and see how the electronic dance music scene evolves, I realize I was on to something with all those ideas I began to explore ten years ago. An inexperienced writer, I remember wanting to make a point, to say what it all meant. I still feel unskilled and naive, but I’ve grown enough to realize that stories live and breathe, and all I can do is resurrect the material and add another layer of perspective.
While this blog has never had a clear focus, and I’ve changed the theme and design too many times, I know for certain — at least — that it is mine, and for this project, I’ll attempt to use it as the experimental, evolving space that I once said it would be.
My manuscript from my MFA program focused on my experiences in the underground rave scene in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s. It’s about dancing, drugs, and a particular moment — one that I’ve held onto, both mentally and physically, and will continue to hold onto for as long as I can. I shoved the manuscript in a drawer after I graduated: it was challenging to write, and it’s even more difficult to read. The writing is sophomoric, the structure is chronological and boring, and the subject — girl in her mid-twenties writes about coming of age in a subculture of experimentation and drugs and asks WHY? — is tired and unimaginative.
But like a mentor once told me, every moment of writing counts. This is a window into this world that will soon close forever, my mentor told me, so just write. Write it all. Write what you remember, what you felt, what you wanted. Ten years later, I have 161 pages of this specific perspective on this specific moment, now staring back at me.
“What are you going to do with me?” these pages ask.
I’m not sure, but I’ll use this space to find out.
* * *
I originally wrote this manuscript, which I called Ten Years in a Trance, between 2006 and 2007. It documents my experiences from roughly 1997 to 2001. The year 1997 has always felt special to me — it was a year of many firsts — hence calling this series 1997. I suspect that posts in this series will be all over the place: unedited excerpts, reworked passages, fragments with bits of commentary, or simply pullquotes. I don’t intend, at least in the beginning, to tackle the manuscript in any methodical way — I’ll simply open the book to a random page, dive in, and see what I find.
Through this haphazard process, I’m hoping to quiet the perfectionist, the blocked writer, and the internal editor inside of me and just get to the raw material that I’ve wanted to play with for so long. If this is the way to get me thinking and writing again, so be it.
Any posts from this series will be filed in 1997, accessible in my main menu under Categories. I should note that much of the material is very different from what I normally post, so I apologize in advance if it’s not what you expect to read, but it’s a part of my self that I’ve suppressed for a while, mentioned only in passing on my blog (like here and here). I wasn’t blogging regularly while in my MFA program — and when I did write online, it was primarily at a password-protected Diaryland site. So, aside from workshopping chapters in small groups at my summer residencies, I’ve never really published and tested this writing publicly, on a larger readership. One personal goal is to write about these past experiences in the open without shame or fear, so I hope you’ll excuse me as I find the right balance.
If you’re curious about what to expect, read a post I wrote in 2011, “The End of an Era, the Beginning of the Future (and the Long Moment in Between),” and an essay I published on Cyborgology in 2012, “We Danced to Become Machines.”
Featured image taken at the Gathering’s 23-year anniversary party at the Factory in San Francisco, 2014.