Wednesday, March 29, 2017

leaning into affect

I am a Pisces. I am an INFJ. My true colours are blue and green. My top Strengthsfinder result is intellection. I'm Ravenclaw.

If you're into personality tests, horoscopes and other narcissistic self-awareness tools that help you learn about your inner-self, then you might recognize the commonality among my results: Emotions. Feelings. Thoughts. Dreams.

My first year of grad school has felt like running a marathon interspersed with some intense sprints to get to the finish line in good time. On the first day of my spring break, I crashed into a brick wall. Levelled with my third (third!) cold of the school year, I was forced into several days of rest. I saw that the movie Twilight had been released on Netflix, so I watched it one evening. I'd seen the movies before and tried to read books, but gave up in a pretentious coo against the poor writing and ableist language. I hadn't even gotten to the imagery of Indians yet.

With the perfect combination of fatigue, stress and self-indulgence, and with a virus coursing though my blood (ha), I was primed for a fling with this terribleamazing series. The next day, I laid on the couch and watched New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn (both parts) in rapid succession. Rod got home just in time to catch the battle scene.

"I want to watch it all over again," I said. He laughed. I wasn't joking.

I went to bed, waiting for the feeling to pass and hoped to wake up the next morning compelled toward the history and literature I was supposed to be reading during the break. Instead, I woke up and downloaded the first Twilight bookproblematic as it is, on my Kindle. Hours passed in minutes and I was reminded of the joy of devouring a book, of any kind and at any place, as a kid.

Then, something even more unexpected happened: I got on my computer and opened up the 25 page file of a novel I had been working on. It's a YA novel. I worked on it in six month intervals, writing about 5 pages in each sitting; you can do the math to see how long this project has been in the making.

This unexpected Twilight obsession, while it felt like my own personal shame, had awakened within me the inclination to write with joy. To write not caring about so many of the things that kept the Word file locked up on my drive for 11 months of the year. I let go my worries about writing well and writing something important. I just wrote. And this letting go has had me coming back to the file more often that I ever have in the past.

After a few days carrying on like this, I started to reflect on the change. My illness over the break made me too weak to care about what others might think about my Twilight-a-thon. I momentarily shed the societal norms that exalt extroversion and condemn the emotional, the thoughtful, the feminine, the quiet. And instead, I leaned into my own affect. I think I'll stay awhile.