I started this belly-aching post, all about how I just don't feel like doing what I should do (i.e., embracing my nemesis, Early Morning, and overcoming my recent hatred of working out). And then I realized that it was really getting me nowhere, and that you all must be mighty tired of hearing me complain for the last few days....weeks? I hope not weeks. Anyway, I had to change the direction of the post, and I'm struggling to change the direction of my thoughts and inject some motivation into my lazy self. So I thought, instead, that I would write about this beautiful book I've been reading, as the contents of said book have been banging around my head for a few days.
Let me read you the back cover:
Silences [by Tillie Olsen] draws on the lives, letters, diaries, and testimonies of many writers, and on the author's own life, to examine the needs and work of creation, and those circumstances that obstruct or silence it. Circumstances--which include one's sex, economic class, color, and the times and generation into which one is born--crucially determine whether creative capacity is used and developed, or impaired and lost.
I'm only a few pages in, and already there are several quotes I could transcribe here. But the message is one I can sympathize with. There are plenty of creative things I enjoy. There are just a couple of creative things that I passionately love to do.
Of course, there's photography. I realize I haven't actually written much about why I love photography. Part of why I don't write about is simple insecurity. At the back of my mind is the nagging question, "What if someone reads this and says, 'How can she claim to love it so? She's not very good at it.'" I know, I know--my imagination is mean to me. But I'm going to be brave and say: I like to notice the secret stuff. I like catching things that aren't so obvious. I like photography because I like to look for beautiful things. I like to preserve things that are significant to me. And I love the look on someone's face when they realize, "Oh! That's how you see me? That's me?" I like helping someone see their own beauty. Now that I say it, it almost sounds shallow, and I'm halfway regretting writing about it. (And that's what makes me silent in this particular area....what if someone says I'm not that good? What if I'm just stuck in a rut and doing the same thing over and over and don't really have something interesting to contribute?) There's probably more to it, but my introspective powers fail me at the moment. Moving on.....
Once upon a time, I played the cello. I started when I was 11, and stopped when Phill and I were married (seven years of playing), because we couldn't afford my phenomenal teacher, we were moving, and I was tired and wanted a break. I haven't had lessons since, and I've only taken the beautiful thing out of its case a handful of times in the seven years we've been married. I tell myself it's okay, that I have three small children, that this isn't the season for it. But quietly and painfully I wonder if I've turned my back on a gift, even when my memories of it are at once frustrated and joyful. Do you know what it's like to try and make a beautiful sound from something somewhat unwilling? Something that has the capacity to replicate a cat's shriek, but also the ability to sound like the most beautiful voice you've heard? I still remember the disappointment when my technique suffered or my mind was too tired or my hands needed better muscle memory. I remember sometimes wanting to throw that beautiful cello across the room, feeling that I just shouldn't touch it because our cooperation was faulty. It is a tumultuous relationship, my cello and I. Because while I remember those frustrations clearly, and still feel shamefully inadequate the few times I chance to take it out of its case, another part of me remembers the moments when something good would happen--technique, my ear, my fingers, my mind, my emotions--when all would work in harmony to create a perfect sound and eventually a finished, polished piece. I wonder how I could dare to pretend that I'm not ridiculously, hopelessly, inevitably in love with the art of making music. And I wonder how it is that everyone who knows me doesn't necessarily know about this aspect of me. How could I neglect something that was once such an essential part of me? The guilt can make me sick, if I let it. And in my fear of touching the cello again and hearing my awful, seven-years-off technique ringing through tortured notes, I am paralyzed. I hate the disappointment; I don't know if lessons/necessary practicing will get me back to where I was. Isn't it vicious? So a part of me misses that. But the bigger part won't let me touch it again. (The paralysis of perfectionism again. Wait a while, it makes a re-appearance.)
And now, my third, perhaps most precious, passion. The scariest one, because it's the one at which I most want to succeed. I love to write. I love to write something well, and read it, and feel the glow of having done my best. I love when I write something that makes people think, feel, talk, dream. I want to publish a book, and I have hopes that it will be loved by those who love me most. I want to say something good, say something different, say something that makes life a little sweeter. And yet, I'm silent.
Not one chapter.
Not a single page of a story that has a possibility of continuing.
Just my blog--which is good, because I'm writing, but not so good, because I'm hiding; hiding and silent. I'm too afraid to write and mess up. I told Phill last night on the phone that I'm afraid to write something I love and have it received badly. He reminded me that I have no control over others' reactions, and that I ought to write just because I love to write. (He's right. Write.) I read something--shoot, where was it? that said if you want to write, then write with all your knowledge and love, and write as if you are writing to the people who love you best. I suppose that at this moment, all I'm lacking is a certain direction for this "book" I have floating around in my head somewhere--an embryo of a book. I can't claim that I don't write more because of my kids. That's just not true, because as I've written this post, which I think is cohesive and understandable, I have had to get up no less than seven times to either tear my children apart or change a diaper or hug. I can work around interruptions. I just like to tell myself I can't, because then my procrastination is justified.
This book is amazing; it makes me contemplative and it makes me burn with a desire to write and make music and take photos and all sorts of other things that I tend to push down when I'm feeling fearful.
Maybe since I've written this post, I can't deny that I feel this way? And won't be so silent anymore?