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)
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.
my artist website is here.