August 13, 2014
Some Days Are Hard
It’s been a tough summer. A tough month. A tough week. Just reading the news feels like an act of bravery. Gaza. Robin Williams’ death. All the thousands of tragedies that affect people every day. And that’s the big stuff.
This seems to be a summer of reckoning, at least for me. With my MFA in hand and that era of my life over, I find that I’m taking a step back and trying to Look At My Life. To figure out what’s important and what it means to be authentic as a person and an artist, and what it means to be a real friend and a good neighbor (and I mean that last one in the global sense). I want wisdom, Dumbledore style. I want to be a zen writing ninja.
The picture below of some street art I saw in Dumbo puts my quest into just the right words:
When you’re a writer, you’re an army of one, fighting like hell for your work, your characters’ stories, and your place in the canon. And sometimes you have backup and sometimes you don’t. It can be hard not to have an enemies on all sides mentality. It can be hard not to take things personally because artists don’t get “it’s just business.” It can be hard to listen to your gut when there are so many factors and people involved. It can be almost impossible to choose your battles. And scary to fight the ones you know you need to.
I’m not really sure what the point of this post is except to say that all the conversation surrounding Robin Williams’ recent suicide has got me thinking about depression and artists and how hard it can be to navigate this modern world when you’re engaged in the ancient practice of creation.
I think everyone needs to be self-aware, but for artists this is especially so because we can’t do our work without a deep understanding of ourselves, the world, and our precise place in it. We can’t just clock in or get through a shift because making art is, at least for me, all-consuming. It's takes all of you and then some. It’s spirit and mind and body, where past and present are in constant collision inside us, hurtling toward an unknown future that we, with our work, attempt to divine. And when the balance is off, it Just. Doesn’t. Work.
Some days are hard. And that’s okay. We have to honor and own that.
These things help:
Flowers from your husband
Long walks in graveyards
Laying on warm sand
There are still a few weeks left of summer. Before I started writing this post, the sky was cloudy and the sun was nowhere to be seen. Now, as I look out my window, I see swaths of bright blue and sunlight.
I guess that’s all you really need to know.
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