Jordan A. Rothaker

I write because I have no other choice in the matter. Humans are narrative creating animals, and I am inescapably human. 

I used to be worse. As an anxious and nervous child I couldn’t enjoy an experience without plotting how it would be retold after. Pretty much anything I did or anything that happened. The present was sacrificed for a future of contrived yet well-constructed narrative recall. Looking back, it makes sense. Anxiety, obsessive compulsions, anal retentiveness, fear, insecurity, loneliness, more fear. Control was the goal. I was a victim in the present, but I was a master of my past.

I learned to make experience quantified and qualified. I learned to give experiences meaning. I had that power; it was all mine. I also learned what a scam meaning was. I also lied a lot.

Eventually, I learned to be present, to relax and live the experience. I learned to trust my memory and my imagination, and to acknowledge (all side-eye-like) that fictitious dividing line between the two. We are such narrative making animals that we even create a narrative justifying a hierarchy of narratives. Fiction is true. But journalism is real. The possibility that there might not be a difference between the two is scary as shit.

My mother says I started reading at three years old. Many of her experiences became memories that she retold as stories that then became my memories that I retold as stories. Reading has always been very comforting and a great point of pride. Feeling proud is also comforting, though sometimes in a guilty way, because sometimes we believe stupid narratives about meaning. Writing became a form of reading but with complete control. My mother idolized writers and I did in turn. Writers were applauded for creative narrative. I was a hopeless case.

Eventually, I stopped lying. Lies were a lot to keep up with. A well told truth is challenging and more fun; craft matters. Fiction became the place to hide all the truest truths all dressed up in lies. (It’s hard to avoid these hierarchies of narrative). However, I can say without immodesty, that I learned to relax into gray, that I am proudly ambidextrous and agnostic, that binaries are just another narrative and another scam. As I move through the world I’m constantly making narrative, it keeps me sane. Sometimes I sit down and make narrative on paper or my computer. It’s fun and it feels good. Sometimes I write standing up.

I have written for money and for praise, and I have written out of spite and for revenge. Often there is love. I write because I have created a narrative that I am a writer and that I write. As the story goes, I have no choice in the matter. I am inescapably human.

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