these texts are an archive of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area from march 2007 - march 2015. it stands as a record of close to a decade of my life, charting the struggles i faced as an artist, daughter, and lover. messy and chaotic at times, eloquent and poetic at others, these texts are an index i am proud of. it was here in this electric box that i learned how to be honest about my experiences and the person i needed to become. it was here that i first learned the truism that words make the world and how to trust such a beautiful, rife, hard fact.

thank you for meeting me here in such tall grass.

my artist website is here.

Apr 16, 2010

feeling thankful for all the writers and artists maintaining blogs and talking about the struggle of this thing we do...

fear, shame, feeling wrong, feeling stupid...

these are the hitches we deal with. all of us. separately, alone, without a rope usually, without any clue of which direction to crawl in. artists and writers.

my sweet and dear friend who is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to writing, sees me struggle to get at whatever it is i'm trying to get at, and suggested i buy "The Triggering Town" by Richard Hugo. it arrived in the mail yesterday. i sat down on my stoop and read the introduction and first chapter right then. then i closed the cover and went inside and worked on a drawing. scratch scratch scratch, wandering with my pencil over the clean white, thinking thinking thinking. (in art school, teachers are told - ORDERED actually - not to yell at a student for doodling during a lecture. it is a way of thinking.) and i thought about how he said, instantly, right there on the first page, that his hope as a teacher is NOT that he can teach you how to write... but to teach you how to teach yourself how to write... that a student must find out how to write like them self.

i thought about this pretty much all day. it's something i already knew but it always helps to be told again. and i thought that it actually comes down to those hitches i wrote up top... finding a way through those things, but also going beyond the therapeutic aspect of writing. this is something i learned how to do when it comes to the creation of images. the therapeutic is often a starting point for my visual practice, but it is not an end. it moves beyond that. it aspires to more than an act of therapy. and this is a good thing! the image retains that part but it gathers other attributes, other aspects, other functions by the time the image is "completed". but i am having a hell of a time applying this know-how to my writing practice. i think sometimes, i luck out. happen to stumble out of the pen of therapy in to the yard next door- the land of art with a capital A. but it is occasional, momentary, unnoticed even. and it comes down to fear. my fear of saying the wrong thing and seeming stupid. hitch.

and then i read this post by our lovely elisabeth and i thought more and more and more about all these things, all these fears and expectations of writing and how they are inexplicably paired with the desire for love, to be a good person, to be understood, to not hurt anybody, to be fair and even and honest. and this struggle to find a true voice... and then the struggle to find the courage to use that voice...

because honesty is not always fair or kind or even.

that fact doesn't sit well with me either.

but i must find a way around it. it is a hitch.

and so i went back to richard hugo, curled up with him in bed and read read read until it was time to fall asleep. all his insights are somewhere in my brain, baking and turning and steaming.

i hear one of my painting professors voice boom in my head. my esteemed Jack, his face a mirror of robert redford's, and how i came to class all bent out of shape by Theory, and he said: don't worry about it. just keep on taking all the ideas in. you don't need to put them in order. keep taking them in and eventually they will find their way back out. their own way.

and so i go back to that day. that beginning. again and again, the beginning. the site of fresh desire, so rife with confusion and fear, is fertile ground. and trust is the sword.

how do i achieve that? how do i get my hands on that sword? how do i learn to use it, wield it, care for it, polish it?

Jack said: just paint. (for now)

Hugo says: just write. (for now)



Anonymous said...

Damn I needed this so much. Thanks for sharing. I'm keeping it for future reference. :)

angela simione said...

good morning, jeff. thank YOU for reading. :)

i think i'll keep it for future reference too. hahaha! i fall out of confidence so easily sometimes. all the things i've been reading lately have reminded me that that's okay... and that it will most likely always be that way. just keep on going. what else is there to do about it? but i'm so grateful that people share their struggles. for as sentimental as it sounds, it's always good to have experiences that remind me i'm not alone in this.

Roz said...

yes angela you really got it here:

"all these fears and expectations of writing and how they are inexplicably paired with the desire for love, to be a good person, to be understood, to not hurt anybody, to be fair and even and honest. and this struggle to find a true voice... and then the struggle to find the courage to use that voice...

because honesty is not always fair or kind or even."

i worry about this kind of stuff everyday. and worry about putting words down on paper/screen, whether they are the right words, how i'll be judged.

for the past week i've been trying to work up the courage to go back and do yet another rewrite of a story i've been trying to write for 6 months now. it will be rewrite #15 (!!) and everytime i fear it, i fear i will be unequal to the task. you are right, it helps immensely to hear others talk about this struggle too. this is exactly what i needed this morning, thank you.

angela simione said...

good morning, roz! my pleasure! and thank you! this is the best part of the whole blog-o-sphere shebang, i think- getting to connect with those who are trudging through the same slop. and somehow, we all learn from each other simply through expressing shared experience. it lends me a much needed, much sought after hope.

15 re-writes! damn! i'd be daunted too, girl! but fear not! you are, in FACT, equal to the DAY. you can meet this day, increment by increment, and win. it is the truth. 10 minutes at a time, if need be. coffee breaks, train rides, and silliness too.

i am also tremendously afraid of being judged for the writing. not the visual stuff, it's different. i got over that a long time ago. and, truth be told, visual artists have a nice big OUT and it's called "you see whatever you want to see". hahahahaha! for some reason, writers are judged much more harshly. conclusions about history and mental workings are drawn much quicker about writers, i think. it's one big reason why i hail "The Death of the Author" as amazingly freeing- the need to go beyond the theraputic, in to influence and idea and aesthetic, and then pop out on the other side, unafraid of the unruly collection that is "identity".

i'm glad you're here and writing and working and struggling along with me. :)

Roz said...

yes i'm so grateful for blogosphere in this way too! all of us in different parts of the world, of different ages & backgrounds sharing these things that are both very personal and common to us all. there's a kind of utopia in this that i celebrate.

yup, 15 drafts. but only for the second half of the story. the first half came together in 3 magical drafts, zing! but the second half is challenging in a totally different way. funny how that is. and yet i see the whole thing as one work, the two halves are connected, it's probably the connection that's giving me the trouble, but i will keep on keeping on, 10 minutes at a time as you say, 10 minutes over and over again through the day, with periodic setbacks and periodic bursts of confidence and before i know it i may arrive at something. that's just how it goes, bit by bit, piece by piece like in that sondheim song from "sunday in the park with george"--which is a great musical all about life and art making and george seurat, have you seen it? it is artist-soul-affirming in the way that these blog exchanges are...

that's so interesting you feel more free from judgment as a visual artist. some poets also seem to enjoy this freedom, i think.

Alesa Warcan said...

Isn't it curious that the arrogant self centered conceited vain people seem to suffer so much less from those hitches?
When I first read Richard Hugo, my mind said Victor Hugo... Richard Hugo makes lot more sense. (by the way did you know that V. Hugo was also a graphic artist as well as being an author? "" you might find it interesting to take a gander at).

Interesting... For me I do my best thinking as I train, I can totally relate to doodling as you think. And you got to appreciate a school system where they actually care one way or another. Where I was, as long as I answered questions whenever they were asked they didn't care whether I was doodling, practicing card tricks, origami, or flat our reading a novel.

I suspect that the singing sword of self confidence and trust must be forged for one's self through pride and skill that is tempered in sweat and sorrow overcome. If you keep swinging that thing around you'll be buff, you'll buffer your creative art to a fine polish, and come to relish the experience.

You already have some answers, and they sound like a continuation of your steps forward... Gambatte.

Alesa Warcan said...

It all depends on what you are writing and how you write... There are a number of "poets" out there who make a passable living on "you see what you want there".

For me, I strive to be fully aware of my shortcomings and assets as a person, and so I'm very rarely destabilized by praise or by critiques, some times insulted, but not destabilized... Knowing who you are, what you're worth, where you are in relation to your targets are pivotal parts to seating one's ego.

Alesa Warcan said...

Yeah, now that I've said, I can totally hear my inner boss telling my ego to sit its ass down.

Roz said...

heehee alesa, but a healthy ego is good!

you make a good point about not letting yourself be destabilized too much by either praise or critique. i always think about the critique part but forget about the praise, how that can be decentering, possibly deluding too. i must remember this, thank you.

angela simione said...

hahahahaha! alesa! no! do not let the ego sit back down! i was basking in its glow! ;)

what you say is true about not being destabilized by critique. i have acquired this strength in my visual practice but am struggling to find the same site of self-assurance when it comes to writing.

why do i find myself so unhinged when it comes to the reception of my artwork when it is expressed in the form of text?

(roz, this comment is for you too.)

maybe because visual artists are largely already thought to be crazy. thanks to van gogh's mutherfuckin ear job. ha! and prior to that, Michaelangelo painting himself as the flayed husk of st. bartholomew. hahahaha! so we accept it as a given from the onset, maybe, that our sanity is a questionable thing. that particular hurdle is something one finds themself getting over quite quickly.

whereas (speaking for myself and my own fears) in writing, there are LINES TO READ BETWEEN. and this reading between the lines, assumptions made about the person who scrawled them, is hard for me to get over. i'm not sure why other than simply i'm afraid of the backlash.

so i appreciate others who have confronted this backlash- welcomed it even. i think of sharon olds. i think of anne sexton. i think of elfrida jelinik. what did their mamas think when they laid eyes upon the very unladylike scrawls of their daughters? and it makes me smile that the daughters unhinged themself long enough from that role to make they work they did.

i'm running out of room. continued below:

Alesa Warcan said...

Yes, waffles* are good. But I prefer mine to be homemade with delicious things in them.
Cheers Roz.

*eggo is a brand of waffles

angela simione said...

and as i was writing that- the destructive component of praise is thrown on the table! thanks roz! and YES! now, the pressure to live UP to something comes. and just yesterday i was exposed for the first time to the work of john berryman who pretty much ended up killing hiself because the 2nd and 3rd books didn't live up to the first.

how to get over this?

fear or failure and fear of success are the same damn dreadful coin.

and so, alesa, what you say is so so so true and comforting and neccessary: find out who you are.

it is hard work but such a flushing pink! so full of reward. an avenue away from crumbling.

Alesa Warcan said...

My waffles are glowing? Yikes, they must be on fire... Well, discussing serious matters like these can get passionate and heated.

angela simione said...

p.s. i really liked the comment about "swing that thing around long enough and you'll get buff"! hahahaha! made me laugh out loud! thank you!!! let your waffle glow! (sorta like ganbatte)

Alesa Warcan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alesa Warcan said...

Half jokingly... There's always Salinger's way. Hit it big and retire. Clearly that isn't for everyone on many levels.

Nodnod. Is it not possible that as you grow accustomed to your writing and the responses it derives... The experience will become easier?

It sounds like you're already there or well on your way at the very least. Sure you have not achieved a Buddha like serenity (maybe next time), but you are working through it, thinking. And "that", I think is what makes it possible for anyone (artist or not) to move forward instead of being crippled by insecurity and emotion at every street corner in life, or even just at the far off sounds of cars honking... You can find my self help book in all major imaginary airports. ;j

Roz said...

i always think of the line from the rumi poem about the struggle to reach the mountain. something about (paraphrasing from memory, the real poem's way more eloquent) how when you try to go there, even while limping, the leg grows strong.

or maybe buff!

angela simione said...


"Is it not possible that as you grow accustomed to your writing and the responses it derives... The experience will become easier?"

as far as drawing and painting are concerned, yes this is definitely the case. completely. i do not take an attack or sneer at a work personally at all. it does not stab me in the heart. i have no clue why i have a hard time doing this with writing other than the fact that i am still very much at the beginning of this. and as a very young painter, responses to the work did weigh on me pretty heavily sometimes. and so...

i will keep on limping along. thank you, roz! ;)

Roz said...

oh, two fears of judgment here, aesthetic & ethical: on the one hand, am i good enough as an artist? on the other, am i still a good person for being an artist?


[word ver: noses, not ears oh dear!]

angela simione said...

word! that whole "good person" issue is alive and well and beating herself up over here.

specifically: i am trying to detatch my "good daughter" and "good sister" notions from being a part of how i define "good person". i've been thinking a lot lately of how family is (or will be) effected by THE WORK. and i'm becoming convinced that artists need to drop that link for awhile in order to really dig in. this is a very scary realization.

a teacher told me once "if you really do want to be a writer, prepare yourself for the fact that at some point your family will hate you."

yikes indeed!

angela simione said...

ps. roz- noses! ha! reminds me of 'the tip of the nose' figure in "A Lover's Discourse". ;)

Elisabeth said...

Dearest Angela,
I'm trawling my way back through other people's blogs on this free Saturday afternoon and as I read down through this wonderful post of yours I get to these words : 'I... happen to stumble out of the pen of therapy in to the yard next door- the land of art with a capital A'.

And I think wow, what wonderful writing and then you mention my post, and my writing and I feel so honoured, so flattered, so humbled to be mentioned thus.

You're right, Angela, writing is hard work, and it helps us to heal but I have never considered your writing to be writing that is purely therapeutic.

Your writing transcends beyond the therapeutic because you have a reader in mind, even when that reader happens to be yourself.

At some level all writing is therapeutic.

I prefer to make a distinction between what I call 'self indulgent writing' which can often be therapeutic for the writer that is, but not for the reader and all other writing that has a reader in mind, again even if that reader happens to be the writer.

I suppose the business of whether writing is therapy or art is one of those areas that blur into extremes. We can argue endlessly about it.

Still as the Australian writer Helen Garner says, ‘Writing is always a seething area of longing and anxiety, and fear and mistakes and daring and of consciousness lagging behind action.'

All we can do is keep at it.

angela simione said...

elisabeth, it is a big BIG relief to know that you haven't considered my writing to be solely theraputic. i worry that it is... or has been for the majority of my life. which, i suppose, is totally fine... but, like the quote you left illustrates, i've come to the place where i want to move beyond that and aspire to greater things. something that MIGHT last... for the words to matter to someone else, not just little ol' me.

it was my pleasure to link to you! i should do it more often! :)

"All we can do is keep at it."


you're right.

and i must come to terms with the fact that the elation of writing has an evil twin: crippling self-doubt.

thank you. :)