Once more my brain was blank from writing all day, so I asked my lovely Twitter followers for blog topic suggestions. There were many, like LOVE and DETAILS and MYSTERY and PLOT and HOW TO MARKET YOURSELF AS AN AUTHOR. By many votes ART VS SANITY won! (By the way, how to market yourself came second, so I will blog about it too.) I walked around the house for a long time after that, chewing on an orange, thinking.
What exactly is art and what exactly is sanity and why do we view our lives as something either wild and uncontrollable and creative versus something orderly, boring and predictable? Since when did we decide that to create we have to turn into mad lunatics, and that orderly life is what gives us sanity, predictable things like alarm clocks, coffee, morning commute, work, lunch, more work, evening commute, dinner, laundry, kids, your favorite TV show... well, you get the picture. I scratched my head. I'm the first one who always tweets that I'm insane, that I have lost my mind, and similar glorious things indicating the fact that I have crickets in place of a brain, when, in fact, it's not accurate. I actually have never felt more sane since I started writing full time. It's this fear of being someone different, someone doing something so unlikely for a living (well, almost a living, as I'm not making much money yet) that makes me feel out of place. I would swing from feeling giddy to feeling down, from wanting to jump in glee to crying into a pillow, miserable, in the course of an hour. I can see an entire movie in my head, complete with multiple people talking, a soundtrack blasting, things happening, and I feel like this is something I'm not supposed to feel or see. I slide down back into my fear that I acquired early in childhood.
You see, I had a pretty violent and unsightly upbringing in Soviet Russia, of which I will start writing in January in IRKADURA. To survive, I escaped into my head. A lot. Normal kids didn't. Normal, other kids, made fun of me. They taunted me. They tricked me. They called me names, they yanked my braids, they stole my school bag and emptied it onto the street. They did mean and nasty things to me. Guess what I did. Most of the time I was so far away into other galaxies that I barely noticed, which infuriated them even more. Since this time, since school, I learned from others that all must not be well with me. I always thought something was wrong with my head, with my brain, and it's not until I started writing that I realized that NO, nothing was ever wrong with my head. I was never crazy, I'm not crazy now. I simply have an imagination so huge that it swallowed me whole since when I was little. I have no other choice but to get it out of me through writing, because it overwhelms with with information. Perhaps this is where the whole concept of art versus sanity originates. In order for an artist to produce art, the artist has to dive into that child, and feel strange and misunderstood all over again, then an artist has to break through this feeling to get to the actual imagery. While doing this we all feel like crazies only because we've been led to believe that we are. But we aren't. Once in the zone, we produce amazing things. We feel normal, sane, we feel ourselves. I battle this fear every day, and I can tell you that I'm slowly getting better.
What is sanity, anyway? Why are we so afraid to dissolve into the state of mind that has no rules, no order, back to feeling when we were three, when a grasshopper could fascinate us for hours, for the simple reason of it being green? Since when is it wrong to do it? Oh, well, it's because some adult told us that we need to get the hell off the street or some dimwit will hit us with a car. Slowly, one by one, these negative experiences accumulated into what makes us adults. We know things. We can predict things. We want to predict things, to stay safe, to never repeat our mistakes. But art is impossible to produce without daring, without willing to make mistakes, without breaking all the rules and gazing at that grasshopper despite the dishes needing to be done, and children needing to be fed, and bills needing to be paid. Maybe this is why we think that we need to bargain between art or sanity. Either or. Well, we don't. The only thing we need to do is feel safe enough to venture into that place of carelessness, to be able to see the grasshopper. There are two ways we can do it, either out of compete happiness or complete misery. When we're happy, we can easily slip into our inner child. But not all of us are. Most of us slip into creating art out of pain, out of misery, attempting to get rid of it. This is how I started writing, to get rid of my pain. And I slowly grew happy. It's so weird for me to be happy, because I'm so used to being unhappy, to seeing unhappy people around me, that I think I must be positively crazy.
There we go, I think I made a full circle. You don't have to choose art versus sanity, you simply have to allow yourself to think that ART IS SANITY. Create. We need more artists in this world, more writers and musicians and painters and all sorts of creative folk, to keep this world sane.