Entries in procastination (1)


The Reluctant Artiste: Avoiding my bliss

Danse (II) --Matisse, 1909, but it looks like joy to me....

I have had the opportunity in the last couple of weeks to view sorrow and joy in extreme contrast. I had a series of losses this fall, and as a result, I have time to do something daily that I have only been able to do in micro-bursts in the past: write. And so, most days, I get to watch the jolt of joy that comes from writing hard and well cut through, and burn off the general fog of my grief.

You would think that would lead to some kind of realization about following my bliss, or using my finite hours only for what imbues my life with meaning, or something like that. You would think that I would be eager to ditch the sorrow for the joy. 

On the contrary. I am dragging my ass to the computer each day, actively resisting emersion in happiness, as if it were icy lake water, and my sadness the warm sun of the beach.

I will scrub dachshund pee rather than approach my office (I do have an incontinent or at least imprudent dachshund; I don't wander the streets looking for a home that seems to need that sort of attention. Yet.) I will dig away at the hardened molasses at the back of the fridge, unaddressed since the pursuit of the perfect ginger cake, Xmas, 2012. I will even f*****g vacuum rather than write another scene in my new play.  

I love this play entirely. I hum like a kettle of bees as I write it. My toes curl. I force strangers, cold and frightened, into my house, and more disturbingly up to my second floor, to listen to a bon mot I just got down that is simply too good to go unwitnessed.

So what is my, and I use this word quite consciously, damage? 

I'm going to put this down to something I call "The Chump Factor." I think most writers have experienced the "I leap onto stage crying Tah Dah and am met not with applause but silence--save for the cougher in the third row" kick in the gut that can follow the euphoria of creation. You thought you had painted Venus on the Half Shell in words. You acted as if you had painted Venus on the Half Shell in words. In fact, you got a broken Barbie, some gull splatter and a bad clam down on the page. And then said Tah Dah about it. You are a Chump. Again. 

Particularly when the warm ooze of grief is offering not only predictability (the gut punch and the loss has already happened, you won't get fooled again; you are already doubled over, retching in the ash can) but the comfort of accuracy (not going to get grief wrong. Not going to go Tah Dah, and find out that there's no grief. The older you get, the more hard core, bone-aching losses you have in the tear cistern, ready to roll out in a mighty heaving sluice, or slide down so steadily no one recognizes your face dry), particularly when grief is justifiably quiet and withdrawn and totally Chump-proof and normal when compared to creation--it is not all that surprising that I have to drag myself away from it, to the aberration of joy. 

I give myself the speeches. "Once more into the office, dear friend...you have nothing to fear but fear of looking like an idiot itself--and people think you're a bit off anyway..." (I have no career as an inspirational speaker in front of me). That sort of thing. It doesn't work. Thinking about it doesn't work. Because while your brain is busy doing its zappity do dah thing, your body is just experiencing grief. And pain. And knowing that the joy of creating may shut that down for a bit, but that will only mean it comes back sharper, more clearly delineated, because it has an other to define itself against. Better to just be evenly sad. 

Except. Except. There is no evenness to joy. It does not measure.  Grief may fill every cranny there is, but the joy I get when I am writing,  punches new nooks into the crannies, leaves indentations that wait to be filled again. It makes me hold more.  Of everything. Even the grief. I hold it. It does not hold me. 

I believe that now, because I am writing this. In an hour, I will be a Chump, vacuuming.

At least the floors are clean.