Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Literary Affair

It has been a busy month for Jeanette Winterson. At he beginning of August she flew to Australia together with her partner and personal therapist, Susie Orbach to attend Byron Bay Writers' Festival where she spoke about her struggles as a writer and the way she coped with loss and depression: "I’d always had enough fuel and energy to push me forward, and find a way through using language and writing (...) It caused me to go into a place that was completely terrifying because I’d lost language… I lost any sense of being able to describe what was happening to me.”
Then, just a few days ago she published two articles for The Guardian, both as part of a series whose topics are "My Hero" and the weekend special "The One that Got Away".
I quite enjoyed discovering who my hero's hero is... and it is Kate Bush, the one who gave Jeanette's "19 year old self a strategy for life and art" and I can empathize with the impatience of looking forward to seeing her in a concert this very week, 35 years after the revelatory moment. Kate offered Jeanette "salvation of a different kind", and this is what true heroes do, don't they?

The article on lost love is simply a beautiful gem, a piece of writing whose words you would like to remember forever because they show Jeanette's genius in recreating a piece of her past, love related, without naming anyone in particular.

"I realised a few years ago that the script I was running through all my relationships was a narrative of loss. Either I chose, or let myself be chosen by, people who weren't free (those were the exciting ones), or I had bouts of duty where I tried to settle down in a way guaranteed to find me secret-sighing over someone else. Changing that story changed my relationship with myself – which is, after all, the relationship all other relationships must negotiate." 

These words reminded me of her lines from "The Powerbook":
"The alphabet of my DNA shapes certain words, but the story is never told. I have to tell it myself.
What is it I have to tell myself again and again?
That there is always a new beginning, a different end.
I can change the story. I am the story.

If you are familiar with her attempt of committing suicide after one of her relationships had ended (subject she talks about in her memoir "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?") then reading this optimistic take on her past love and loss is quite uplifting and it shows how much she evolved emotionally.

"Love is hard work. We don't hear enough about that. Falling in love is the easy part – it's why affairs are so exciting and attractive – none of the toil, all of the fun. I used to have a lot of affairs until I realised it was like growing cress on a flannel – instant results, no roots."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEANETTE! Thank you for being a neverending inspiration! :) 
P.S. Madonna attended the same concert last night in London, how cool and 'coming full circle' that is? :)


Nick said...

Reading your post on Winterson has made me interested in actually discovering her work. Thank you, Ally.

Ally said...

You're welcome :)

Bellezza Mjs said...

It's wonderful when we find an author we love so much. I know Jeannette is one of your most beloved, and while she doesn't speak to me in quite the same way, I do thrill to your excitement!

Ally said...

Honestly, I believe Jeanette is the wittiest writer alive, she is a wizard with words, or should I say witch... and the more I watch her speeches, the more mesmerized I am with her. She is incredibly inspiring :)