Monday, August 1, 2011

Paradise Fragment: Words

“What are words, anyway? If you tell a lie with words, you cause all kinds of people to get sick. If you tell people the real truth, they get together and they get well.”

--Woody Guthrie, Bound for Glory


Dear Beatrice,

A little depressed today. I didn’t get much sleep last night. I was up til like 4am editing Hibbleton Independent because it goes to the printer today.

I am in a weird place, like, mentally. On the one hand, I am fulfilled by all the creative projects I’m involved in—our band playing more gigs, the art opening on Friday, plus the zine show at Bookmachine, the magazine being released in a couple weeks. I feel like I am really rolling, creatively.

But then I am sort of overwhelmed and depressed by my financial situation—I have like $400 in the bank and rent is due. I don’t have health care or car insurance. I feel, as always, like I am dancing on the edge of the abyss of financial ruin.

But I get paid today, and I can probably afford everything—just barely, like always. I hold my possessions loosely, and I am supported by a community of friends and family.

I will survive, as I have always done. I’m a survivor. There are many things I am willing to do without, and a couple things I am not willing to give up, things I will fight tooth and nail for-- the gallery, the book store. These are things I refuse to let go of, because I believe in them so fiercely. And so each day I teach my classes for very little pay and I figure out a way to hold onto what I choose to hold onto. It is a struggle, but one that brings me great joy, and sometimes great anxiety.

And each month a miracle happens. I survive.

And I’m encouraged by something else. Last night, as I was waiting for Tony to finish laying out the magazine, I started writing. Just writing, by hand, in this notebook, and it was like jazz. It was flowing. I was inspired. I was “in the zone” like I haven’t been in a long while. I was an artist using words, blending passion and knowledge and experience into story. I mean, I was REALLY rolling. I was describing an art opening and trying to transform the mundane into the sublime, which I usually try to do when I write, and last night it was just clicking.

One thing I have struggled with, as a writer, is the tension between showing and telling, like the difference between journal writing and story writing. That is the struggle of a memoirist. But last night, I swear, I found such a perfect balance. Around 3am I was writing and I was in a state bordering on the ecstatic.

As an artist, you can’t always be in that state. But, when it comes, let it come. Ride that wave. If you let it take you, you might end up somewhere really beautiful.

So, despite my financial woes and occasional depression, I was inspired last night to continue the task I have done my whole life—to write. I don’t know what will happen with my book. I only feel compelled to complete it. I think it will be done soon.

So I’ll hang in there, through my depression days and lonely nights. I will embrace my friends and my family and my passions, and I will be okay. I will be okay.

Sincerely,

Jesse

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