Yesterday morning I have broken my new promise to myself. That promise was not to check anything in the morning, no email, no social media, nothing, just wake up and write. Why did I break it? Well, the reason was innocent enough. I thought, Hey, I have written a blog post, so I'll just quickly spread the love online, I'll quickly publish it so it can be sent out to my blog subscribers at 10 AM exactly as it's supposed to, I'll quickly tweet about it, very quickly, I won't even look at tweets, I will only—
WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.
I shall never break this rule again, not unless I'm under the threat of death. It is impossible to simply quickly tweet something. When I launch the web browser with Twitter or the app on my phone, I can squint my eyes all I want, I still manage to decipher a few lines of text. And, naturally, my brain starts working. It starts processing information, and I lose that hard-achieved dream state I was in upon waking. Which, by the way, was glorious dialogue spoken in Galadriel's voice, because I have finished reading the first LOTR book, my first time reading it in English (I read it in Russian in my teens).
So, in the morning, before opening my eyes I have started coming up with the new opening for CORNERS, a very important step in starting a draft. An opening paragraph is everything to a book. An opening sentence is double everything. It can make or break the story. Instead of writing it down, I got my brain to eschew creativity and focus on the mundane, the horrific, the loud and disrupting and blood-chilling. I learned that a gunman in Paris has shot writers and cartoonists. My heart sank. Guns. Guns against pens. Ideas against stupidity. Then I stumbled on Salman Rushdie's statement about it, and my heart sunk further.
"I'm an idiot," I thought. "I will never get to this clarity of mind and speech. I wouldn't possibly be able to come up with so powerful an impact in so few words. This is what writing is. What I do is pathetic." I thought, "I must stand with the world. I must make an impact. I'm a writer, dammit, I ought to make a stand. I need to speak about this, but what can I say? Who am I to say anything? What command of language do I have? Poor." Emotions flooded me, and I started crying, then I started weeping, because suddenly the prospect of writing a children's book, a parody, an adventure about four kids jumping in and out of books appeared dull and measly and shallow and somehow unimportant on the scale of global pain we suffer as humanity. My words seemed stripped of their purpose, bland, weak, insignificant. Lacking punch. Missing weight. I kept coming up with more and more reasons why I should stop writing.
I WASTED MY MORNING FEELING SORRY ABOUT MYSELF INSTEAD OF WRITING.
Then I got mad. Mad at my clumsy craft, craft I haven't mastered yet. Mad at the gunman for succumbing to fear and idiocy and, as a result, violence. Mad at the world for producing so much pain and torment and darkness. Mad at media for jumping on any violent story and omitting quieter happier news that are not shocking enough. Mad at myself for getting sucked into the Internet drama instead of focusing on my art. And, after all this, I got mad at my insecurities, at not trusting myself, at falling prey to my fears that stem from childhood, powerful clutches of those who told me that I can't. That nothing good will ever become of me. That I will never be enough. Those who instilled this terror in me, this mistrust in myself and my thoughts and opinions that still rules me today, when I'm almost 40 fucking years old.
Worse than all this, I got pissed at myself for breaking my promise to my readers. I was supposed to start writing early, so I could post my daily writing on my brand new Patreon page like I have said I will do. I did do it, but I let myself be derailed, swept into the place that I know I should have avoided. I failed to protect myself.
To create I must protect my space, my thinking, my way of being. My moods, my whims, my silliness, my sudden bursts of nonsense. This is me. This is what makes me happy. This is what makes those around me happy. This is my job, bringing a smile to people's faces around me, pulling them out of darkness, not plunging them deeper. Helping them get rid of their pain, helping them heal. And that is exactly what I will do. I will tell you what you have to do, to feel happy and to come to a place where you can create.
PROTECT YOURSELF AT ALL COSTS.
Until you are ready to face the tribulations of the chaos that we call "life," shield yourself. Hide. Do not open up and let in the stream of incessant news that flood the Internet, that your family members shout at you on the phone, that media pushes down your throat on TV and radio, until you're ready. Your job is important. Your job is healing yourself and growing a thicker skin to withstand the brutality of the world we live in. As an artist you are vulnerable, and that is what's so precious about you. You can show us all what it's like to be human, what it's like to feel. You can break through those of us who have forgotten how to do it, those of us who have grown a skin so thick it became our impenetrable hide. It needs to be broken, by people like you, little by little. Chip away at it. Write every day. Do what I just did. Write out all your feels and sense this curious lightness in your being. Float up to the ceiling like a balloon. (You see what is happening here? I have written myself out of darkness and am being witty again.)
Yours is the only way to create. You are the only one you have. Be you. So what that someone else said some smart shit. You can say it your way. Practice, practice, practice. And when you're ready, take a peek outside. Test the waters. Little by little, you will find your rhythm. I have found mine but my fear nearly made me break it.
I'm fine facing flying shit AFTER I have done my daily writing, not BEFORE. I admire other writers who are ahead of me and have the wisdom of years and the experience of millions of written words to make a stand. I shall make a stand too. I'm making one right now, by writing anyway. By not stopping. I will fight for clarity, for brilliance, for power of word. That is my fight. That is my stand with Charles Hebdo. I will keep writing, keep reading, keep creating.