I began Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist with hopes of side splitting laughter and joy. I finished the memoir depressed, deflated, and encouraged.
Okay, I admit it. I began this memoir hoping for an uplift in mood. A cure for my anhedonia and the mental lethargy I had been feeling for days. Instead I slogged through page after page of purple prose and vain attempts to be witty. But strangely when I finished the memoir I had a glimmer of hope.
The Princess Diarist was published a month before Carrie Fishers’ death December 27, 2016. Fisher said the memoir was inspired by journals she found while cleaning out a closet. Anyone who has seen the documentary Bright Lights and the chaos that was Fisher’s home would understand how she could misplace the journals for forty years. The journals primarily document her affair with Harrison Ford while they were filming the first episode of Star Wars. The memoir goes further with an semi-affectionate rant about the autograph sessions at Comic Con and the like. Fisher calls them lap dances.
Ford was fourteen years older than a somewhat naive, but vaguely sexually experienced, nineteen year old Fisher. Fisher said that she finally chose to make the affair public because she did not want someone else exposing lies about what really happened. The way I read the memoir Fisher struggled with “does he love me” syndrome. And, it seems she was smitten with him if not in love with him. While he was not in love with her. Fisher does not reveal any salacious details of their relationship but does describe that all consuming first kiss initiated by Ford.
About half the memoir consists of reproductions of the original journal entries. A few poems are interspersed with these journal entries. The entries show the beginning promise of the writer Fisher would become. And, show shadows of the dendritic bipolar mind that possessed and at time dominated Fisher’s life. The entries are often difficult to read (at least for me). They are filled with a bottomless self doubt. And, a non stop self flagellation with words, words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.
Yet they inspire hope in me.
If Fisher can do it. So can I.
Pour out my doubt. Expose my inadequacies. Catalogue my fears. Celebrate what few triumphs there are. Coloured gray-black by the demon of depression.
I shall take as my mantra for 2019, Fisher’s exhortation, “Write, don’t think, write.”