Forgive me if you’ve heard this before….but I have writer’s block. I have so many ideas rolling around in my head it looks a lot like it did when Dorothy and Toto got sucked up into the tornado, except my particular tornado is filled with words and colors and disparate images.
Everyone is asking for a sequel to Kandinsky, and I totally appreciate that people want to read more of my words, and I will get there–I promise. But lately, I’m wondering if I’m made for something more–If I could write something more, if I wasn’t scared. My friend, the amazing Jamia Wilson (whose book “This Book is Feminist” is wonderful and you need to read it) once asked me whether the characters in my stories are fighting to be heard, and I said that we all discover each other inside the writing process. For Kandinsky, that’s what happened. But for a while now, I’ve felt another story simmering, and other characters that are trying to break free and exist as part of a larger tale–one that I could write if I had the courage.
What could we all do if we weren’t afraid to fail? To get rejected, to have people hate our writing–the bits and pieces of it that come out of our bones and are such a personal part of us. It’s a terrifying prospect. But at the same time, I feel like I’m not stretching my brain enough. One of my friends who read Kandinsky said that she didn’t particularly like the Prologue, that it didn’t seem like something I would write, and she was concerned about what the rest of the book would be like. (Fortunately, she kept reading and actually ended up liking the book quite a lot). Here’s the thing: I want to write something that doesn’t feel like “me”–something that comes from the murkiness, the misery, the depression, the anxiety, the anger, the bitterness that we all experience in life. Something that comes out of the dark night of the soul. The artist Francis Bacon certainly understood that darkness–his painting Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953) is almost viscerally disturbing–my skin crawls every time I look at it and all I want to do is look away. His Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (1944) was painted the same year that photographs of the Holocaust were made public–again, art reflects the pain and suffering of life. We’re artists on the edge of history, and it seems only right that art (any art) should echo who and where we are right now. To do anything else would seem….irresponsible. (Says the girl that just read four Bridgerton books in a row). It’s this odd combination of wanting to escape life and wanting to communicate life in a creative way–and I’m lost in the limbo between the two, completely paralyzed.
So I’ll ask these questions: What is our obligation to reflect the current state of affairs, and what could we accomplish if we weren’t afraid to fail?
(As soon as you figure it out, let me know).