Gastromancy

Finding my voice and recovering my story, from down deep.

What happens when the ventriloquist becomes the dummy? Photo by Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash

I know I write well. What I don’t know is whether I am an artist. That’s what I’m trying to find out, through this project.

The world is full of people who write, who identify as writers, who dream of being read, of receiving recognition for their craft, of making a respectable living doing what they love most: bringing life to words and giving words to life, and to lives lived. I’m certainly one of these people. And in a way, I have achieved the dream of being paid well in the business of words, the operative word here being business, as a public relations and communications professional. Those words were mine, but they were borrowed. And the artistry associated with this profession is purely idiomatic, and often unflattering— a bullshit artist, a con-artist, a puppet-master, a ventriloquist. Ventriloquism is the closest I have come to artistry, as a voice made to appear as though it is coming from someone else.

Funny things happen when you do something long enough, when puppet and puppeteer co-exist for decades. The lines begin to blur, the genetic code starts to mutate, and before you know it — before I knew it — my words lost their author and became another story. When I took a step back from my career and put my props away, I found myself without a voice. I was so programmed to say what people wanted to hear, so fearful of not being liked, that I lost the way to my source material.

That’s not to say that I hadn’t already begun to wander away from that source years before, like many girls who are told to be nice, shown to be pretty, scolded for being “too much” or having too many feelings that made other people too uncomfortable. But making a career out of the silencing of my self made the whole transformation less obvious, and more effortless, because it suited me well: I wanted to hide, and found a perfect hiding place. It was only a matter of time before I would outgrow it, and my discomfort being contained would become impossible to ignore. I spent the past year and change being quiet, listening for the whispers of the woman I am, getting curious about all my secrets, and why I thought I had to hide them in the first place, helping the little girl I used to be repair where her soul was crushed and her heart broken, to finally confront my fear to fully embody myself, including the artist within.

So I will write.

I’m challenging myself to write something every day, here, and let my story unfold. I don’t have a plan, except to live out loud, even if it’s only on my drafty little Medium page. Thank you for supporting me by being here, and by extension, part of this experiment.

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