The challenge with NaNoWriMo for me is that I am a constant self-editor. I can pick and pick and pick and PICK at something mid-flow, killing it (and word count accumulation) in the process. I have to stop editing and just write! until my hand joints ache. And then begin again tomorrow.

But, for the moment, let’s say a little revision makes a huge difference in the flow. An experiment, involving quick little changes which hold power to create an entirely new character and voice.

How about that rarely used second person perspective? As that inner voice, the one which refers to the self as “you”. It can be self-accusing and self-destructive, or positive and affirming. It is “you”, but not “you” in that a person can treat that inner voice as a detached stream of conscious without always being conscious of it.

I’ve found her:

For a minute there, I lost myself.

Do you think that quote means anything to anyone? Ring a bell, somehow, maybe? Does it tell anyone anything at all about you?

Nope.

Because they aren’t your words. You can’t say that you’re original: someone voiced it for you. Someone else wrote it, set it to music, sang it, recorded it. Cutting-and-pasting, plagiarizing with the thinest veneer of citation, that’s all you’re doing. Here, here’s the snippet — sing along if you care:

For a minute there, I lost myself,
I lost myself,
I lost myself . . .

“Karma Police,” Ok Computer, Radiohead, 1997.

Doesn’t really say much about you. It’s not about you, see. Maybe it tells someone that you listen to Radiohead, that you like them enough to know and quote the lyrics, and that you “feel” these words speak to you and, maybe, speak for you. Again, not original: doesn’t everyone feel that a song “speaks” to them personally every now and then?

What makes you different?

What makes you this “I”?

Never mind the song was written and performed without awareness of your existence, never intended to be your mouthpiece, or your personal communication with the world. So why do you quote it?

Still.

Sometimes, a singer’s words and whine can say so much more than you ever can with your own damn voice.

Sometimes, clamping headphones over your ears and blasting it into your head will say all that you ever needed to say, or hear.

Sometimes, closing your eyes and opening your ears, if only wide enough for the song, can be the your favourite little numbing narcotic.

Gimme the beat boys
and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll
and drift away . . .

Singing to yourself again, are we?

Well, none of it is about you. Not completely, not entirely.

For instance, you’ve always been lost and you always will be. For the longest minute, maybe. A forever, for you, my dear.

Don’t look so disappointed.

And because you borrow someone else’s message, and interpret it as you choose, you just subsume your own voice and replace it with a neat and tidy little lyric or ditty. And you’re not really saying anything at all, not at all.

Nothing.

Nothing?

Nothing.

You’ve lost me. Again.

You’ve lost yourself.

I am not here. I never was.

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