The mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Is it? I’d like to waste that bitch sometimes.
I’d like to extract my mind from myself, the artist’s plague, and shoot her dead. Or strangle her. Or perhaps torture her for a time, like she’s tortured me as long as I can remember; perhaps that would be a more satisfactory end for this piece of me, is it the Id? The Uberself? The built-in cynic with a penchant for the soul squash? My masochistic inner other.
You’re not good enough.
You never should’ve stopped writing those five years, when your kid was small.
I didn’t. Not entirely. I blogged. Badly.
It’s too late for you now.
I know. I’ll get my MFA when I’m 34 instead of when I was 29. 34 is practically retirement age when you’re a woman. I should just give up. I’m out of time.
You’re a phony.
I’m very good at tricking people. It’s just because I know a lot of words.
People like you don’t get to do this.
It’s true. I’m a brokeass from a brokeass family. I could never afford the luxury to create, to commit my whole self to what I make. I will always be lesser because I am poor, because I have always been.
Also, you are a mother.
That, too. Mothers’ writing is the worst, nobody cares about dirty nappies and what it really feels like to breastfeed. People care about war.
You will never go to war. Also, you will never publish your essays.
I’m afraid of losing the people in them. The ones who are really important. Much more important than my writing life, my artist’s soul.
Perhaps it is bold to say that we are all constantly pushing hard against those conversations. I picture myself between two tiled walls, my back against one, my feet flat against the other, pressing till my face is red, till my gut is herniated, till the muscles in my thighs lock and ache. Keeping that sacred space between, the place where I get to breathe deep and free and feel alive because I am making. Perhaps other artists face lesser negative self-talk. Perhaps other artists feel like it is their right to do what they must, to create.
And when I’m feeling rested and healthy and positive, which is more often, I am able to recognize all of that for what it is: fear. Not just fear of failure: fear of judgement, of self, of what happens when we let it out? Does it get lost? Do I get it back? If I let my mind really fruit, the ante will be upped, I will push myself to do better next time.
As it is, everything I write sucks as soon as it is down. The process of printing exponentially increases the suckage. The more I work on it, the better I see it is with my rational mind, the more it sucks. How can I live with everything I write forever and ever, published or in a secret journal or on some disk somewhere or in a drawer, sucking. Letting it out means it sucks. But I can’t keep it in!
And it doesn’t suck. Not always anyhow. If I were left to myself alone, I could never believe that.
So, as much as writing practice is alone, alone, alone; I prize my weird and wacky and mostly long-distance community of other writers and artists. These are the people who’ve helped keep me from lobotomizing that cunt who lives in my mind. The ones who teach me how to quiet her, how to shut her in a room with meditation. These are the people who will read this post and nod and feel recognized. These are the people who help me to know that I do not suck, my writing does not suck, and I have every right to pursue my passion.
So when the self-hatred begins to mushroom and permeate and threaten my very will to live, I remember that awful/wonderful movie, LADYBUGS, and I shout over the din, YOU ARE GREAT! YOU ARE WONDERFUL! EVERYBODY LIKES YOU!
You are, too. What does your self say? What do you tell it? How do you shut it up?