“What do I know? I’m just a nobody from West Virginia.” My voice weakened as I spoke on the telephone through the darkness layered around a Southside neighborhood.
“I’m gonna tell ya somethin’ and you better listen to me. Don’t you ever discredit yourself because of where you’re from. There’s a lot of talent to come out of here.” My mother’s voice used THE TONE. The sound of harshness and love, but it let me knew I’d done or said something not right. She rattled off her choices and I rattled off my favorite writers.
Spent years beating myself up in the name of “Not Good Enough.”
I can’t. I won’t. And I haven’t… YET.
I’ve judged myself with the harshest of measuring sticks. Took the stick and beat my hands bloody out of personal persecution. I’ve written around my natural dialect. I’ve banished my authentic speech because “it’s not proper.”
They say “ain’t” isn’t a word. It’s a word where I’m from. I’m sick of hiding. I’m gaunt from rewriting stories, articles, and paragraphs to fit the voice we s’pose to talk in. Big city writing for big city people. Writing I can’t relate to… nor do I embrace… nor can I understand.
Sensationalized sex, over selling the soul, and curtailing the truth to paint fancy spotlights shining down. That ain’t my style. Because I muck up all the time. I spew unsexy failure everywhere and every place I go.
Give me honest to goodness, holy soul moving stories. Give me the ugly truth. Give it to me straight. Admit the faint dying breath not willing to rage against the light.
Rage. Rage. Rage. It’s all that’s inside of me some days.
I carry the rage inside my fingertips. The golden fingers turning failing into flying. It’s from these petite overworked hands are how lemons turn into sweet refreshing lemonade.
Set up the stage, arrange the lights and be the voice sounding the beginning to a mosh pit. Kids swirl in the mud, faces planted towards the beaten down, ripped out grass. They are stomping their Doc Martens with angry delight. Sound the encore and let them plead and scream and beg. They don’t want to head to the parking lot. Not yet. They don’t want the night to end.
Neither do I.
I’ve got one shot in this life. I got the voice to stir whatever given emotion I decide to focus my energy on. I got the ability to haunt the dreams caressing the sleeping mind. To turn a story into a tragedy or a divine comedy. Comma here, italics there and a dash of Misfit. The ornery soul is a part of me.
The girl from West Virginia. The one who people said is a nobody. The woman suffocated by hills and trees and railroad tracks. The home forever resting in her heart. Because it made her who she is today. She is I and I am her. All I’ve ever known to do was to write.
Doesn’t matter where I’m from or where I decide to go.
Doesn’t matter who spat in my face.
Doesn’t matter what they say.
Doesn’t matter how many times they say it.
The only words holding my truth are the ones I speak about myself. It is my voice I hold to the fire. It is my dialect, my upbringing, and my location which has created every painstaking moment harnessed in this body. It the reason my heart is beating. Because of me and my natural, God-given voice. No one can diminish my raging against the light. I remain forever an ornery, genuine soul.
When I sit down to write I hear Kurt Cobain, my Piscean brethren, serenading my ears with his voice, and he says:
I don’t have to think
I only have to do it
The results are always perfect
And that’s old news
Would you like to hear my voice
Sprinkled with emotion
—From “Oh Me”
Rachel E. Bledsoe is a writer and an Appalachian Misfit Mama. She enjoys swimming, long walks on the beach, and Marie Antoinette biographies. She is the sole voice and writer behind The Misfits of a Mountain Mama. You can visit her on Facebook or on Twitter @MisfitMtMama