To have power you have to believe you can have it, and for that you have to know you're worth it, and for that you have to love yourself. The amount of self-love is proportionate to what we harness in childhood. How much have we been given, how much have we retained, how much of it was beaten out of us by parents, well-meaning strangers, institutions. At one point in our adult lives we face this dilemma for the first time: the first time we get dumped, get fired, have someone die on us, suffer an irreparable loss. In these times we look to those in power and wish we were like them. "If only I had that kind of money," we think, "if only I had that kind of a family," "if only my health was that good," "if only I were that pretty," and so it goes, ad infinitum.
We keep looking in all the wrong places until some kind soul tells us to look inside our grief-stricken chests. Some of us were lucky enough to have been told this early enough in life to have had the time to dig through the crap and get rid of most of it. But those of us who weren't as lucky, those of us who got very little love growing up have the hardest time and sadly sometimes never find it, that path to the power (which is paved with shit-bricks, by the way).
I've been feeling it lately. Power. It's like I'm coming into it, becoming it, and it makes me sturdy as a rock. To think that writing brought me to this point seems preposterous to the uninitiated, to those who look at it simply as a craft. Hey, people build motorcycles, people cook, people knit, people do all kinds of stuff that makes them feel good. But writing is not just craft, and it's more than art. It's the stuff of our minds, it's our heads sawed open, it's the many cavernous spaces of humanity that we can visit like some gorgeous palazzos in Italy, places we would've never dared to visit before, places that have traps in the floor and torture chambers and carnivorous rose gardens and smelly oubliettes, places you didn't think existed. When you write, you get to see those places in you, you get to understand them, get to know how you were made, the blood and the flesh and the bones of you, and once you do, you learn to accept it. When you accept it, you learn to love it, and when you start loving yourself you begin to see that you can have power, you're worth it, and when you get it, you're not ashamed of it, you don't feel guilty.
I am, of course, biased. I don't know if composing music gives you as much of a revelation, or drawing, or sculpting. To me the other arts are a step up the abstract ladder. I'd want to strip the layer down to the brain and see what's beneath. Books give me that. A stunning piece of music gives me thrills up my spine and a divine reverie but it doesn't give me access to what's under. Stories do.
Books were holding my hands throughout life like real people. They still do. I draw my power from them. It's thrilling, this feeling. For this alone I want to shout from every roof for everyone to write, as the self-awareness that comes with it is cathartic (and often purgative, in the literal sense of the word). You feel like a fucking God of the universe doing anything you want and FEELING OKAY WITH IT. Liking things you like and FEELING OKAY WITH. Believing in things you believe and FEELING OKAY WITH IT. All you have to have for this is pen and paper. How easy is that?
If you haven't started writing and want to, if you're watching all those NaNoWriMo writers post their progress and thinking to yourself, "I wish I could do it but I can't," then I urge you to flip a bird to your to your fear and do it. FOR YOU. The point is not to write something amazing that will sell left and right, the point is to understand the stuff you're made of and be okay with it and learn to love it. If we all did it, the world would've been a better place. By "world" I mean, of course, our planet. Although there is no telling if some alien fuckers won't invade us in the near future and wipe us all out, but I suppose that's another blog post. Or maybe another book.