Monday, June 1, 2015

Graphophobia

Tomorrow I leave for middle of nowhere Nebraska to take part in my first ever writing residency at the amazing Art Farm! I am super excited about being in a totally new environment with the sole purpose of writing. I'm not going to lie, though. I'm scared.

Fear is a part of any artist's psychological landscape. Let's call it graphophobia for fun. It was Georgia O'Keeffe who famously said: “I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.” Fear is just another thing I've got to get used to if I want to make writing my life. 

I don't fear many things that others might fear, like traveling solo in a foreign country or swimming between islands in the Ten Thousand Islands. But these days, as this new adventure approaches, I feel fear encroaching, gaining speed behind me, scratching at my back with its long talons. The demons roar in my ear: What right do you have to call myself a writer? What have you ever published? Who wants to read what you have to say anyway? 

For the past few weeks, I've been letting fear rule. I've stayed away from my writing desk. I've jotted down some notes here and there, but for the most part, I've been mute on the page. Let me tell you that it doesn't feel good. When I think about it, and I try not to think about it, I feel like a fraud. I want to run far, far away from my MFA program. I want to turn my writing desk into a shot glass exhibit. "There are so many other things I can do," I tell myself. "Quit now and save yourself the trouble." 

This afternoon, I joined my professor and a few classmates at a coffee shop. "What have you been writing?" my professor says.  "I haven't written a word in a month," I blurt out. "Am I doomed?" He laughs and goes on to assure me that my writing career  is not doomed. "It's okay to take a break," he says. "Now get back to work." 

We spent the rest of the hour workshopping each other's pieces. It felt good to get my hands back into the dirt, to wrap my mind around words, and dive back into the world of lyrical language, tone, structure. 

In transcendental meditation, I was taught that our mind wants to transcend. We don't have to force it. It will happen naturally if we let it.

I hope that I can approach my creative process with this levity, to trust that our minds - our souls - our beings - want to create... If we let it. This is what a residency provides: a physical and psychic space for your creative self to expand and explore without fear. 

Wish me luck!