Monday, April 24, 2006

Melancholy Manola: A Writer's Confessional

Putting the pieces of SATB back together again, one post at a time, has been a tedious and laborious process. The romance and wit of writing all gone in html code, cut and paste and tired fingers. Talk about a turn off.

I wonder: why even bother? But then again, writing always was and always will be my first love. Writing and love, love of writing, writing for love and about love comes so naturally that I cannot imagine myself as a creator separate from her creation.

And yet, this piecemeal process of rebuilding has made me reconsider why I even created the character of Manola Blablablahnik. She's not just a gimmick named after expensive high heels (I'm not ashamed of wearing knock-offs), nor is she merely a flattering nod at the character of Carrie Bradshaw (a character who cannot and should not ever be recreated -- she was just right). Rather, Manola B is a congruence of myself and everyone who has ever crossed my path who has also experienced life in SoBe -- that -- and so much more besides.

But she's not all me. She's definitely not all me and yet the more involved I become in writing her, I find myself making distinctions. She came to life and took shape in a public forum -- yet out of a very interior, personal evolution. She's an alter-ego of sorts, the brightness in the author's darkness. In fact, I rather dislike how much she swears and yet like her author, she surely doesn't mince her words on the page or in life. She's everything every woman secretely wants to be ...

I remember passing notes to a friend in high school about our latest crushes. We'd use the names of Shakespearian ladies instead of our own. Even at 16 -- aka Miranda from The Tempest -- I was already taking love and transporting it into a magical realm where humor could ease the tension of its banal reality. And we were still innocent. Still virgins. Hearts and hymens unbroken and hopeful. But even then, we could intimate that these butterflies in our stomachs were striking chords that we'd never heard and that soon enough the harmony would turn into dischord.

I recently celebrated my twentieth-year high school reunion and I'm still the same passionate writer. More polished, experienced and stylized, to be sure, and as a woman all the more. I don't miss the past, but I know today that the reality of love hits hard. You fall harder and then it's harder to fall in love.

In high school, writing was innocent because we hadn't yet really lived to tell the tale. Today, we've lived the tale, and have to tell it.

And speaking of a very real today, I walked along the beach alone and basked in the violet rays of the sunset, thinking about about Manola and how I had almost lost her. Why Manola? Who is she? What is her voice? What does she wear? Who does she love?

And the answer came, quite simply. She's a spark amid my darkness, even in the waning light of day.

As a writer, I'm experiencing a very strange collusion of life imitates art and art imitates life.

I also thought about Mr. Thinks He's Huge. I no longer love this man, but he still plays an important role in my thoughts because his involvement in my life led me to a sadness and seclusion so severe, that I thought I'd never find myself again nor see the light of day.

When I met him, I wasn't new to love, but I had never experienced a relationship with a man who was sufficiently manipulative, mentally abusive and emotionally careless enough to crush my shining spirit. I didn't fall in love with that man. I met him later, when it was already too late.

And I state this not as a male-bashing front, but because he must've come into my life for a reason. I know it now: he taught me everything I don't want and should never put up with, which is a good lesson I'll hold on to.

As I walked away from the beach onto the Collins exit, I thought of our relationship in these terms: imagine yourself like a Kafka character walking down the street. You mistakenly make a wrong turn. Suddenly, a man comes out from the alley, ready to shoot you. The difference between this scenario and my relationship is that he didn't inform me he would shoot me until I was already in love and blind to the weapon that threatened to destroy me.

That wasn't real love, of course. And while it took place near the Atlantic ocean, it wasn't the joy of sex and the beach.

When I first started SATB, I didn't know Manola would help rescue me from that lone gunman and the darkness. I didn't know she would take me by the hand and say "come on you funny girl, go make some readers laugh." But now that I'm having to rebuild her story by story, she's coming back to life and I'm coming to cherish her as a good friend.

I hope that she will continue to give you much joy, laughter and who knows what -- you just never know with her -- for years to come.

Manola may not be all me, but she's definitely a spark rekindling my spirit. And like any good, strong woman, she's got her ups and downs. But she'll be back ... or her name aint Manola!


Anonymous said...


Welcome back to life. You have many people who look to you for advice and inspiration and let me be the first to say a hole would appear should you leave.

Stevie B

Anonymous said...

You really need to frame this post and put it up for sale on is priceless.

And something that hits very close to home.

Anonymous said...

I love you Manola. This post was beautiful and it is good to reflect. Thanks for letting us in on your reflection.You are a huge support in the Miami blogging system and a big influence on my blog. Thanks. Sorry you deleted so much of your past words but I am sure it is all pasted in your reader's memories. Love ya.

N said...

Long may Manola continue to swagger and rant! What a great post!

Trouble said...

I'm glad it's coming back together. Manola rocks!!! ;)

Robert said...

Very nice. A little (or a lot of) introspection is never a bad thing. May you continue to find your way.

After this post, we'll look at Manola in a slighty different light.

Maria de los Angeles said...

Thanks to all ...

I really appreciate 'being read' by such wonderful and intelligent folk. I don't think I'd write this way otherwise.