I’ve not been here for a while. The juggling of balls has been hard this summer, and there has not been enough pieces of me to share around. The baby is eight months now, and I’ve been ready for months to smooth out a white page, to fill it with words until every corner is covered.
They say, or rather, the writer and critic Cyril Connolly said, ‘there is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.’ Yet, I was not brave enough to follow this path until I had children, and even though I long for time for my art, I am enjoying every moment with this last, precious baby of ours.
Still, there is no denying that time is scarce, and the children needy, as children are. The small windows available to me have been better used for marketing tasks rather than creating something new. As exciting and terrifying as the book launch is, it doesn’t hold a candle to spending time alone at my desk, allowing my fingers to find their rhythm and soothe the disquiet in my mind.
I have a reoccurring dream of being on stage with my knickers around my ankles. I can’t see the audience’s faces, but I feel so small in that moment. At their mercy. I am much more comfortable with the private side of being a writer than its public side: loudspeaker, seeker of validation, narcissist. Yet one side cannot exist without the other.
Photo by Gina Lee Kim
It’s such a primitive urge, the need to come to the blank page. I need it more than ever. It gives me a space to take the storm inside of me and make sense of it on the page, to excavate my worries and send them off into the universe. The spider web of life is stretched thin. The duties and the striving take their toll. Too often we wake to news that makes it seem like humans are intent on destroying each other. It hurts to see the struggles at individual and nation-state level. The newness of life in my arms brings the wretchedness and hopefulness of the world into stark contrast.
And so, I find my way here, to this small corner of the internet. I rarely think about who reads my words, and who does not. It’s part of the practice of writing to come here, to have a routine of publishing. Yet there is some part of me, which feels shame at the openness on display here, because is it selfish or even unhinged to burden others with your thoughts, even if it’s only the winding cables of the ether and the zeros and ones of binary code?
Photo by Charis Tsevis
We are taught as we age to seal off our innocence and openness, as if it is a flaw. As if being soft and pliable – those traits that are such markers of traditional femininity – is not a wise choice. As if hardening, and hiding our true faces when we step into adulthood is more meaningful, or perhaps, the true way to success.
I reject that. I’ll take a true answer to a polite ‘how are you?’ any day over stock phrases, and a dance of polite strangers, though we have known each other for decades. How tiresome to live that way. How exhausting to continue with layers of indifference and bravado.
I am so grateful for writing, reading, art, music, theatre and film. I am so grateful to the creatives in my life, the writers, bloggers and Twitter friends, who are courageous about who they are and how they express themselves, and help me make sense of the world.
My debut novel, All the Tomorrows, is being released two months today. For an Advanced Review Copy, please join my Reviewers Club. The pre-order is open now on my publisher’s website, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iBooks. Signed copies are available from this website.