Sweeping up the ashes of all my former fires

As a kid I spent hours plucking words out of the thick air around me. Distilling, arranging, shaping.  Words did my bidding. I wrote so I could continue to find reasons to believe in myself. So that I had proof that I existed and was good at something. That I had promise. Whenever I wasn’t dying of shame, and that was often, I was busy believing myself unstoppable.

It’s been a long time now since I produced work of any real, personal substance for anyone other than myself. (Note: Back then, in my room, I was producing it for myself, yes: but that was with the tacit understanding that I was a kid and it wasn’t time yet for anything to happen. Anyway, survival dictated that I not think too far ahead into the future.) It feels like a lifetime ago. I felt so stymied during my 20s and 30s, but I hammered through and made things anyway. Paper and online zines. Musical performances and recordings. Collages and knitted things to sell. Articles for various outlets. Interviews for same.  My last job required from me a tremendous dormancy across so many areas — a dormancy from which I’m still waking.

And the more awake I am, the angrier I am. With myself, primarily, for not making more. For not forcing the alone time I need to create. Even though I’ve spent a lot of time in the recent past learning a lot of solid life lessons–and those lessons have changed everything for the better. You’ve gotten so comfortable and complacent, I think, but that’s not fair. I’ve gotten so that I’m not used to having space in which to create. I’ve gotten so I expect very little from myself in terms of creating. I got used to just existing, and then needing time to recuperate from just existing. My punk rock/DIY/make-beauty-from-your-pain aesthetic was incredibly useful for many years, but it’s no longer relevant. And I need to figure out how to get back to creating without it.

I don’t know what that feels like. I see it in some of my heroes (Bowie, Cave, etc.) and there’s a lot to be said for learning via osmosis. But I wonder how much trial and error this is going to require. I suppose I’ll do as a once-dear, now long-lost friend once advised me (advice I repeat often, because it’s very good advice): comb my hair and show up. And then do it again. And again. And again.

Time will tell. I certainly can’t.