Negotiating With The Dead

It’s been a while since I’ve written a book review. I don’t even know how to automatically click through this Notion Page anymore. It took me quite a lot of tries to get here. My mind and my fingers automatically go to that Microbiology page, as if my life revolves around Science only, and I already forgot that I also love Arts and Reading. I’m slowly going back to my previously balanced life. I’m slowly easing into my old (but hopefully improved) rhythms. Now, I’m participating in exhibits and doing something as both a researcher and an artist, which makes me infinitely grateful.

Now, let’s go back to our book review. I wanted to go back to writing. It is the sole activity that puts my mind at ease and makes sense of the chaos around me. Be it a new knowledge, my thesis topic, and especially my deepest thoughts, making sense of things is easier when the “things” are on paper. The symbols that the ink make on a blank paper make the thoughts almost tangible to me. As if I can move them around in front of me to build a living thing out of the scraps.

However, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything down. It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel at this point. I wanted something to read that will remind me why I do it in the first place, why I keep on believing in these fiction stories — stories that some of my colleagues consider useless, considering that I’m in a Scientific field. They think I should focus on reading journal articles because they will help me further my career in Science.

I completely disagree. Perhaps this is just me being stubborn about keeping all the things that bring me joy in my life — Science, Arts, Literature. I love them all, equally, and I can’t imagine a life without one or the other.

Opposite to what I expected, this book was not about writing. It didn’t even have any tips on writing. I thought, to overcome my intimidation of the blank page, I’d read this book. It was better that what I’ve hoped for. Sure, I was bored in several instances. It was filled with a lot of references from other works, and I love that about Ms. Atwood. It brings out the Scientist in her — and in me. Everything “stolen” from a previous artist must be annotated. Give credit where credit is due. My boredom stemmed from ignorance mostly. I don’t know the writers, the stories, the books she mentioned, and I find myself drifting off most of the time while reading the book. However, by the end of it all, the book brought out my competitive side. It’s the same feeling when you’re in a class and you couldn’t understand anything even though you know that the class was supposed to be interesting. Then you say to yourself, “I would have enjoyed this class had I been smarter.”

I would have enjoyed this book more, had I read more. I wouldn’t have lost my drive to write had I not fell into a reading rut. Because other people’s work never fail to inspire me.

I also felt better about the things I need to go through to be a writer, or an artist. Writing, or create any art for that matter, is like negotiating with the dead, and the dead always demand blood. Of course I would feel this way after creating an artwork after a long day of research, and then writing afterwards. I’m splitting myself into three people, and I felt horrible and drained, despite the fulfillment that the Arts and Sciences bring me. I thought I was just not handling it well. I thought it was just me.

Because of this book, I realize that’s just how it’s supposed to be. Living a double — triple — life will never be easy, but I chose this life, and I can’t imagine living it any other way. I just know, with every fiber of my being, that I’m supposed to do these things, and that life wouldn’t be worth living if I give anything up. It can be lonely, harrowing, crippling at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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