Sunday, March 28, 2004

Progenative Force

It seems I can't help but create things these days. On weekends I tend plants growing out of hand. I bake outrageously complex meals for myself and my roomies, experimental recipes for brownies, breads, chicken, and cakes, all from scratch using a variety of new kitchen tools I got for Christmas or borrow from the roomie's odd collection. I write long twisted letters revealing too much to friends, decorated with images from Comics Preview magazine and using other photocopied works of art, newspaper clippings, and hand-drawn doodles. A few weekends ago I spontaneously decided to make a stuffed animal, a little white cat out of fleece for Titania to help her feel less lonely while I'm at work. I desperately want some hemp thread so I can start making necklaces again for myself and friends. Knitting has become wildly popular among my peer group, and I've considered taking it up; after all I already have the needles, as they're a common tool used in book repair. I've been repairing a lot of my books, too.

Help help, I'm bleeding arts & crafts.

The worst of all this preoccupation with handiwork is that I know I'm doing it to avoid writing. While I have managed to turn out two short articles for a political 'zine in Chicago this month, it seemed that my out-of-control creative force only applied to writing once I found out that this 'zine was hopelessly stalled, and that Kati feared for it ever seeing press. Freed up by the thought of being part of another stymied project, I typed away with glee, composing a satirical conversation between Karl Rove and Nixon, and completing a brief biographical rundown of another Republican administrator. Reading about the 9-11 hearings this past week made my efforts feel doubly redundant; now not only did I write these pieces for a zine which may never get published, everyone knows these guys are bastards.

While every plant and meal I touch exceeds expectations, every literary project I involve myself into seems destined to go bitter and fail. The project I am closest to completing sits on my hard drive, mocking me. In order to finish it I'd need a week off of work, a co-conspirator, and at least a grand. I have the leave from work, it's true, but the idea of me pulling together a grand and not using it on my sisters or ever-growing debt is just laughable. The other literary projects I have, while much easier to complete, just languish like forgotten ferns. If I watered the comic book projects with Alestar or myself, I know they'd live again. But they stare at me from my subconscious mockingly. The projects know I've given up on being a writer.

It would be easier to learn how to knit. I could knit while I watched TV. Or I could buy some hemp and glass beads and once again turn out presents for friends that I'd see around their necks for years. Step aside, guys, I've got cookies to bake. Even writing for work seems a chore, the words that should flow easily from me are constricted, too tight, unacceptable for one reason or another, not what the company magazine really needs. The resulting pieces, which, it's true, reach thousands of readers, feel alien to me; informational quasi-advertisements for services available to libraries and archives from the government funding. And to think, I once thrilled feminist horror fans with that short story about puppet miscarriages.

I want to finish the ghost story I started a year and a half ago. I have a clear picture in my head of how the resulting short graphic novel would look, and I think I'm going to approach my filmmaker roomie about working on it with me. He's a photographer, and I think that between the two of us we could really do some innovative image work, twisting digital images to tell the story. But I am afraid of starting another project, with the last one languishing in my picture drive, giggling at my attempts to create again. I am often worn out by my professional work, and I feel deeply conflicted about what the last, unfinished project says about me as an artist and a person. It's like the last project accomplished what I'd really been looking for in my art and writing from nearly 30 years. The last project held a mirror up to me and showed me parts of myself I can't always see, and truthfully it wasn't a flattering reflection as a whole.

Through my own art, I was able to understand more about myself than other people do. And what I discovered has nearly halted my ability to express myself on a higher artistic level. Everything in my life was affected by that last big project - friendship collapsed and were built up around it. My romantic life revolutionized itself. My opinions about family members changed. Everything moved and tilted because at last, I was really making art. And now I find it hard to want to do that again.

Does anyone want a nice scarf?

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