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Writer’s stigmata, ink in the veins and dirty laundry

Creative types have an interesting relationship to notions of ownership – from the copyright that protects their work to the semi-sacred spaces in which they create it. Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” was the early 20th century prototype for this type of declarative claim for personal space, literal and figurative, feminist and otherwise. By century’s end, taking ownership included whole states (“My Own Private Idaho”) and finally religious figures (“Your Own. Personal. Jesus.”).

It’s a combination of Woolf’s concept and Depeche Mode’s need for “Someone to hear your prayers / Someone who cares” that’s preoccupied me since rising.

Question: When do you know when your sense of ownership of the ecstatic state of creation has dipped into a kind of psycho-religio madness? Answer: When you get stigmata.

Yes, stigmata. It’s not just for Catholics anymore. With enough inner-angst, anyone can grow the wounds of Christ. This is body-piercing at an entirely new level – through the palms of one’s hands, the feet and the assorted other places Jesus was messed with on his way onto the cross and the journey from B.C. to A.D. (talk about crossing time zones).

My stigmata is a bit different. I woke up this morning with pools of black ink welling up in my palms. I consider this neither a religious miracle nor a kind of masochistic affirmation of my writerlyness. It’s just a goddamn mess. Albeit, I might have still been dreaming. Also, I sleep with a pen and pad nearby and I might have fallen asleep with them mid-sentence.


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