Friday, June 15, 2012

You think you're one of a special breed, Part one

I know that I'm best taken in small doses so this long post is divided into three parts.

Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. - Stephen Sondheim

I've known artists who sought chaos first so they could eventually create their way out of it. Through the pinhole of judgment, I viewed the habit as an excuse to drink or get high or sleep around. To be an asshole was as much a part of the creative process as was anything else.

Even though I'm aces at being an insufferable asshole, I'd rather chew glass than claim my churlishness is due to my artistic nature.  When I'm being an ass, it's because I'm Scotch-Irish, my father's daughter, a product of my environment, because I never learned to deal appropriately with my anger, because I enjoy being that way on some level, because I am. I am simply and most-assuredly an asshole. I want to keep it to a minimum, but don't always reach that goal.

But being difficult because I'm creative? Please. I don't see myself an artist. I write to process things, not to create. Sure, I like to tell a story, to share something, to make people feel, to allow myself to feel through the words, but that's therapy not art.

When I wrote my now fallow novel, I attempted to transition from word self-medication to trying to create a new world, a new reality, a new order. I wasn't ready. That story evolved from one thing to another to another until it was unrecognizable. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I don't think that's how cogent, well-written novels are formed.

Later, I began taking anti-depressants and found a job with a very long commute. Writing to process things became less necessary and time became more precious. My already struggling habit of writing suffered an immediate blow.

Now instead of immediately turning to the act of writing through my emotions, I pause and rest with them. What I've noticed is that they're blunted. There's a buffer between me and passion for the things that had once consumed my imagination. Even the sadness I feel about the death of Morris is smooth around the edges. I leaked tears when I counted out the food bowls - four instead of five - but there's no pain in my chest, no unstoppable keening, no hurt that translates to the physical. I wipe the tears with the back of my hand and move on.

Other emotions have cooled. No longer mercurial. I'm almost glacial.

My rages lack vigor to the point that they don't even qualify as rages anymore. They're more like yawn inspiring rambles about things that kind of annoy me. Nate provided some parental disappointment recently and I didn't even raise my voice. Instead I opted for disappointed looks and conversation about the practicalities of his boneheaded activities.

My passive aggression is about 5% aggression. How disappointing for someone who has truly enjoyed that label in the past. Now I'm the dreaded passive sentence.

My once well-honed ability to spread the misery lacks its former expertise. My loved ones are grateful.

Is this what contentment feels like?


  1. Oh, Lisa. I love you.

    In a completely appropriate, gender-neutral manner.

    1. Thank you renn. I love you, too. With or without qualifiers. ;-)

  2. Contentment? The bar is set too high for that!

    1. That's always been my sense, too, Bill.

  3. I wouldn't know about contentment. Acceptance, maybe.

    The human psyche was probably not designed for Full Blast Emotion All the Time. That that stuff fades is merciful, or you'd still be obsessing about the rattle you dropped when you were 1. But the distance and numbing of even recent feelings feels (ack) like a betrayal of some kind.

    If the novel really needs writing, it will wait for you.

    Virtual {hugs}.

    1. Thank you, D. I agree - we must cope so having, as you call it, Full Blast Emotion, would be exhausting and eventually fatal for many of us.


  4. I read somewhere recently that to write a successful novel a writer first has to write a million words; I'm pretty sure you passed that point by 2007 at the latest. Your novel, which I was lucky enough to read, was actually a good one. Even though you've set it aside for now one of these days I hope you finish it and let the world decide its worth.

    You, my friend, are anything but glacial.

  5. I'm in a similar frame of mind - and after being on antidepressants for over 5 years, it's hard to tell whether that is the cause, or whether it is the perspective of age finally working. But I'm afraid to go off the pills to find out!

  6. And may I add, I hope you do take up that novel again. I know you are good!

  7. I am sorry to hear about Morris. I've missed reading your blog and like this new direction you seem to be going with your writing. I didn't realize you had set the novel down. Novels are so hard.


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