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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short essay on listening to the voices in your head as it relates to writing.

Submitted: November 12, 2014

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Submitted: November 12, 2014



I clutched at the covers, tossing and turning, my mind swimming in deep thought and emotion. I couldn’t go back to sleep. My mind had been a wall for so long. I had tried tirelessly to see through the shroud of blankness, but if there were anything on the other side, I never quite got through. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing there. The thoughts and images were impenetrable; one minute there, the next completely disappeared. I would try to write and stare hopelessly at the computer screen. I’d close out the empty page, opting for the welcome distraction of Twitter or Netflix instead. Ignoring the void in my mind was easy. We live in a world brimming with instant gratification and distraction, so most of the time I forgot the wall was even there. And then I’d wake in the middle of the night shaking, in a cold sweat, and know my mind was telling me something. I’d stare at the ceiling, just like tonight, waiting for the images to come. I’d close my eyes, hoping the stories would play out on my eyelids. Nothing.

There was a time when the stories came naturally. Almost as if they’d actually happened, I would see the characters and the events play out like I had actually been there. I could feel the moments and instantly knew that’s how the story was supposed to go. I’d sit in class and the action of the story would drown out the sound of my teachers. I would go to my room to do my homework, open up a Word document and without realizing it an hour later I’d have pages of a narrative written out, nowhere closer to being finished with my Government essay. I’d breathe in air and breathe out words, and then it all just went black.

After I stopped feeling the stories, after the voices’ of characters stopped buzzing in my ears, I tried so hard to get it back. I did everything I could. Everything was hopelessly gone. If anything came through, it came in fits and starts, nonsensical verbiage, incomprehensible even to me. I lost myself inside of myself trying in vain to find the voices, to hear what my mind was telling me. I almost lost it altogether. I got so tired of trying to find my way through the blank space, of trying to penetrate the wall in my brain, that I gave up.

 I turned myself into someone new. Someone who wouldn’t even have real stories in her brain. I lived on the surface. I cared about the surface. Surface people tell stories about their trip to the mall, how they chipped a nail, trivial things. People living on the surface have no problem falling in line. Their brains don’t tell them to go the opposite way because it might help free up the fog inside of them. I lived only on the surface for as long as I could; but the muffled whispers turned into sharp screams. The blurred faces began to haunt me. There were stories in my mind; there were things I had to say. I started to withdraw from my surface friends; I started to live in my mind more than ever. I felt certain I would go insane, but this time I balanced the struggles against the fog with concrete activities in the real world. I made sure I didn’t lose myself again. I was getting to know myself for who I truly am, but the stories were still unclear. I reread the stories from the past, hoping that voice would enter into me again. That voice was dead, but I refused to accept that the voices still in my mind were merely ghosts; I knew they were alive, I just had to unleash them.

Tonight was different. Tonight I heard something. It played back over and over. For once, I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t get the voices to stop. It was one singular voice. It wasn’t my voice, but it was blaring. My brain rattled against my skull. I could feel my heartbeat in my eyelids, my chest tight. A cacophony of sound left me spinning. My own thoughts crashed against the sounds of Wild Heart by Bleachers. Jack Antonoff’s words ran through my mind. Mental images matching the lyrics flashed up in my eyes, but more than that, a million other images. An entire vault, an entire story, not just one person’s story, but countless characters and countless stories. Entire lives of people living in my brain came pouring out from the wall that had puzzled me for so long. Memories that weren’t mine, but felt like mine, relating to each other wrapped around the lyrics of the song, the feeling of the song, ran rampant through my mind. I couldn’t move. I was pinned down by my own mind; overcome with stories, images, voices, I didn’t have the power to move, to write. I lay still watching the upheaval happening within me. Finally, I reached for my phone, put my headphones in, and pressed play. I put the song on repeat and focused on the words. The stories started to slow down; I listened all night. The stories came together, the voices told me how they were entwined, the events unfolded in order and it felt completely right. I felt completely right. I wrote page after page, harrowing details of intricate stories with Wild Heart as the music playing in the background, rising and falling with the plotline, moving the characters along.

As the sun came up, I knew I was finished because I could feel the fog clouding my brain again, I felt the wall closing back up. I didn’t fight it, I could barely focus on that feeling. Stronger than the ambiguity clouding my brain was the rhythm pounding in my heart. It was more than just pumping blood through my veins, it was talking now. If I listened, it would tell me the key to unlocking the next compartment in my brain. 

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