Love Letter #1
actually, it turns out Everything is Paralyzing
There are a few people I keep updated about my writing in real life. And I always say the same thing when they ask: yes, writing is going pretty well; I have something in the works; I’m going to share something soon. Soon. Soon. Definitely this week.
They usually smile and nod politely, knowing that’s exactly what I said the previous week, and exactly what I’ll say when they ask me again a week later. So part of the reason I started this newsletter was to force a little bit of accountability, to try and give myself some abstract deadlines.
I wrote this newsletter’s manifesto throughout December and January, and I still stand firmly behind it. But it’s the end of February now and I just don’t really believe in it. I know I will again, but I just really don’t right now. And it’s hard to write when Everything is just Not Feeling like A Love Letter.
Writing is much harder for me to to share than any of my other art. Maybe because I’m afraid it’s actually pretty bad. I like to do some things poorly; I like to mess up. For example, I’m a big fan of just absolutely botching an overambitious karaoke performance. Or drawing a really stupid comic. Pulling a very technically inferior print. But with writing, I don’t allow myself this ease.
Why? Why? Why?
Maybe because I can’t see it objectively. It’s so much easier to be objective about my visual art than my writing. When I make Bad Art, I know it’s bad, and I don’t mind sharing it. I almost revel in it, in fact, because it feels like I’m saying, this may be Bad, but it’s still Art, and it’s in the world now, and there’s nothing you can do about it. The only Art that’s Not Art is the stuff that’s made without community, conscience, soul.
Doing things poorly is a firm assertion that you’re mortal. Sharing Bad Art is a wink and a nod signifying how in on the joke you are. But I can’t explain why, to me, the idea of making and sharing bad writing just feels different. Like you’re very much not in on the joke; like one too many people told you you were talented at an impressionable age.
Writing. Whose idea was this anyway. Just as often as I think, yes, this is good writing, I’d like people to read it, I think: god. Oh god. What was I thinking. I should obliterate all traces of myself from the internet. I should password-protect my Microsoft Word®. I get this thought on the sidewalk; I get this thought while writing invoices at work; I get this thought in the fluorescent hair care aisle at Shopper’s Drug Mart®. I think, look at yourself. You’ve taken fifteen minutes to decide between the $9.99 shampoo you dislike or the $11.99 shampoo you like a little bit more. Who are you to write something people want to read?
So, yes, everything is a love letter. But also, actually, everything is paralyzing. Including the shampoo aisle. Including love. Love is all the things that can hurt me. Love is all the ways I can let people down. And god, I love to write, even when it turns out it’s kind of bad.
Anyway, writing is going pretty well. I have some fiction in the works which will be the next thing you get from me.
Soon. Soon. Soon.
Definitely this week.
I think these are thoughts that tag along with the creative process of every creative and talented individual. Sometimes it's so overwhelming that you're liable to hack off an ear, or something. Or, heaven forbid, stop writing all together!
So, keep your compass heading, full speed ahead!