Thurs. Nov. 15, 2018: Passion, Creativity, and a Dark Night of the Soul

Thursday, November 15, 2018
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Venus Retrograde

 

It never ceases to amaze me how often people criticize others in order to feel more powerful themselves, or because they feel threatened by others’ talents.

That’s kind of the entire GOP platform at this point — dehumanize anyone they deem “different.” Only give basic human rights to those who do as they’re told.

Which is a conversation for another day, but an ongoing one we need to have here in the U.S.

Again, if you haven’t read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, do so now.

I’ve been called “difficult” often over the years because I walk my talk, I’m passionate about my work, and I’m ruthless about protecting my creative time. I’ve grown to embrace the “difficult” moniker because these are things I’m not willing to change about myself. The toll is too high. And, frankly, I’m old enough not to really give a damn what most people think.

I recently came across some old journals, as I’m cleaning out the basement. That younger me who was in so much pain with this man or that man in my life tried to demean or demoralize me for being creative and passionate, telling me I was “too much” or had to “tone it down.” Or the one who said I “didn’t give him enough to complain about” and he felt left out when his friends bitched about their wives and girlfriends.

They were all kicked to the curb, and it was the right decision. I stayed true to my core. Had I stayed with any of them, I would be miserable now.

Hell, I might not even be alive.

There have been some wonderful men in my life, even though we’ve chosen not to stay together forever. I tend to have long stretches of being single rather than going from relationship to relationship, because I learned the hard way that it’s lonelier to be with the wrong person that to be alone.

I’ve been told I’m not a “real” writer (even though that’s how I earn my living) because I write more than one thing, because I do marketing writing as well as novels and plays and radio drama, because I write in genre instead of “literary” fiction, because I’m not published by one of the Big Five, because I worked in theatre, because I worked in a library — it just goes on and on and on.

You know what? Go ahead and define me. I’ll just keep working and cash my checks.

Am I rich? No. But I’m building the life and career I want.

Am I famous? No, and with luck and careful strategy, I never will be. I spent many years working with actors and directors, many of them big names. I don’t want what comes with fame.

A little more financial security that buys me freedom? Yeah. I’ll take it. Fame? No. Let those who like it have it.

When I was nervous about reading at the festival in Provincetown this year, an actor friend in the UK (for whom I’ve written) asked, “Do you trust the work?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “Then get out of the way and let the work breathe. Trust the work.”

He was right, and it was a good experience. It’s also one of the reasons he’s getting to be a known name (and no, I’m not going to name drop here).

None of that created the dark night of the soul of this title.

As many of you know, it’s been a tough year for me. A year of loss. Deaths in the family, deaths of friends, of my elderly cat, health issues in the family, other pressures, a tight contract schedule, intense political activism (which has brought me into contact and sometimes friendship with people I might never have crossed paths with otherwise). I have had a lot of demands on me physically, emotionally, creatively.

There have also been plenty of friends, family members, colleagues, and others in my life who have needed my love and support, and to whom I gave and continue to give it willingly. They are not a burden. They are my heart.

In October, I received a disappointment that shook my confidence in my work. Had nothing to do with publication or production, and I’m not going into detail about it publicly. But it devastated me, and I’m still trying to recover and get my creative feet back under me. Intellectually, I should be able to shrug and move on; emotionally, it’s much more difficult.

Trying to create in this political atmosphere is, anyway, like swimming through molasses. Says the chick who never learned how to swim. But you get the idea.

It’s necessary, and yes, I do take the position that all art is political. Even art that claims not to be supports the status quo.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be light and entertaining and fun.

Chuck Wendig had a terrific thread on Twitter the other day about the importance of creating, of “making stuff” — both because we as artists need to do so, and the world needs it.

I re-read HEART SNATCHER, the draft of the ass-kicking novel I wrote several years ago. It’s filled with rage I felt as a woman at unchecked violence against women and people who can’t defend themselves. It’s urban fantasy, not “literary” and its protagonist is charged with fulfilling justice, especially when the law moves away from justice. The writing was praised, but I was told to tone it down, that “women’s rage makes readers uncomfortable.” I put it away, but I think its time has come.

I started Women Write Change to create a place where women can develop creative projects sparked by what’s going on in the world. That’s been a great help.

Also, ideas come in batches. I got ideas for several new short stories. I’m doing research and will write a play about gun violence and possible solutions. That was inspired by a conversation I had with an actress friend on Twitter, when we felt so angry and helpless after Stoneman Douglas. I started PREVENTATIVE MEASURES, a novel that also deals with gun violence (among other things) when I was so uncomfortable about a gun vendor being part of that awful shopping/liquor event I did with my client a few weeks back.

Veterans’ Day weekend brought a batch of new/old ideas and inspirations, growing out of conversations with vets I’ve worked with on various projects over the years, vets I’ve gotten to know on social media as we fight to save our country in our various ways, and my experience working/talking/caring over the years.

Mixed into that is the book on the tightest deadline just isn’t working. I can’t fill it with the effervescence it needs right now. Everything is forced. The darker piece due next is doing better, but this one, I’m struggling, and I feel like I’m failing — myself, my editor, my readers.

I’m looking at some huge, huge changes in my life in the coming year (and I’m sure there will be plenty of unplanned stuff). I’m trying to prepare for those on every level.

And I’m tired of being tired, angry, and sad all the time — again, that’s mostly due to the state of the country.

Tuesday going into Wednesday was pretty rocky for me, and Tuesday night was basically a Dark Night of the Soul. I’ve had these periodically, and some are darker than others. I’ve learned how to create a container of ritual for these now, which supports the experience and makes it a tool to get somewhere instead of a downward spiral into the abyss.

Once the emotion was burned away (and there was plenty of that), there was clarity. I won’t go so far as to say “peace” — but there was clarity on several things. I’m now taking steps to make some adjustments.

There was also a fresh surge of creative energy, which is always welcome, and when I make the adjustments I need to make, I will be able to shape it into something that might help someone else get through a bad day.

One of the comments that mattered most to me about my work came in a letter that arrived about a year after one of my plays was produced in Australia. The writer had come to the play at a particularly low point in her life. Low enough to consider suicide. She came to the play (which also touched on the topic), and it made her see things in a new way. It made her feel that she mattered and SHE could instigate her own changes. A year later, she had a job she liked, working her way to a job she loved; her own apartment; and was in the early stages of a relationship she felt was the first healthy one in a long time.

During that production in Australia, I hit a particularly low point, my own danger zone. I attended someone else’s production, which got me down another train of thought, and I would up staying up for a couple of days and writing a play about a suicidal woman stalked by a serial killer. Both want her dead, but who gets to control it? Which became one of my signature works.

When I hit a particularly bad patch, I remember that, and it helps get things into perspective.

I’m feeling like I have more perspective, and that I can make some positive decisions.

And please, please remember that you matter, your creativity matters, your contribution to the world matters.

Published in: on November 15, 2018 at 5:44 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Nov. 15, 2018: Passion, Creativity, and a Dark Night of the Soul  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,