Wednesday, June 15, 2011

From the weird to the strange

Strangeness leads to strangeness. I don't remember what inspired me to start painting, but it was at a time when I felt like I had nothing to lose: I badly needed some form of expression, a new one I hadn't tried before, and it didn't really matter whether I was any good at it or not.

At first I used plain paper gobbed up with poster paint, which soon became as wrinkled as a child's glitter-glue project, so switched to a sort of heavy stuff like construction paper. It turned depressingly brown after a few years. I fairly quickly stopped painting, realizing my brilliant works of art really weren't so hot. Mostly brush-stroke experiments, color patterns, nothing representational.

I just found scans of a few of them, and with my diabolical need to change things, I reversed the colors on a primitive program called, appropriately, Paint. Now they look eerily three-dimensional (I think) and say things (I think) they didn't say before (or did they?)

I recently tried painting again, this time with proper acrylics, brushes, etc., and got nowhere. It seems I have very little visual sense. My neurons are tangled around music, like Al Jolson's heartstrings around A-la-bammy.

So this is an experiment, a very weird one, which may be one-of-a-kind.

How far can I go?

When you keep a blog like this one, you have to ask yourself from time to time how much of yourself you're going to reveal.

I sometimes think that if I uncovered the real truth about this writer's journey, I might scare prospective writers away. For much of it has been painful beyond expression. And I do seem to carry it alone.

There are writer's groups, but the ones I've sampled are social gatherings and/or arenas of competition. Writers are by nature a solitary lot. Can the process really be shared, or even described? Do I even understand it myself?

I seem to have spent the past twenty-five years or so (or maybe it's more - I don't want to count) bashing my head against brick walls, while everyone tells me to just write for my own enjoyment. I doubt if they'd say that to a professional musician or a dancer or a brain surgeon, but they say it to me all the time.

Or just put out an ebook. But I want to win the Giller Prize! I really do.

That could be a factor, oh yes, my ambition, and my absolute fatal faith in my own work. Faith? Wait a minute, that must be wrong! But contrary to what people seem to think (people who, on encountering my discouragement, pat my hand and say, "There, there, Margaret, your writing really isn't that bad"), I believe fiercely in what I do. I think I am a damn good writer who has barely had a chance to prove herself.

So there.

I have more than paid my dues. People tell me it's tough all over. Yes. And this stuff just hits me directly in the self-esteem like a hard, unexpected punch to the solar plexus. The pain never really seems to end. Yet if you don't keep up a happy, jolly, optimistic face all the time, well then, hey, you might scare away a prospective publisher! So you have to assume a jolly, chirpy, superficial Facebook-like attitude. Or just stay off this topic altogether.

I know there are other areas of my life that cause me pain. This is called "the human condition" and I know I can't escape it. I tend to heap it all on one area, maybe because that gives me some form of guttering hope that some day it'll all be solved. All I need is success!

Well? If lack of success causes depression, and then you DO attain success. . .doesn't it follow? Or am I being simplistic again?

It causes me inordinate stress when people try to talk me out of my ambition. They're trying to make me feel better. But I don't want to feel better.

I want to feel different.

At the same time, I want somebody to "get it", a chronically frustrated need which I believe is behind a lot of this ennui. Yes, there is such a thing as existential pain, and I have drunk deep of it. I have come to believe that avoiding it costs too dearly. But most people seem to skate rapidly on top of it for a lifetime, or else make hay out of it, becoming vastly entertaining and provoking belly-laughs at how damn crazy this old life can be.

What it comes down to is this: we are the Facebook nation, offering shiny little tidbits of ourselves in a very public forum. We tweet and twitter and text and phone and dit and dot. Loneliness is said to be epidemic, but I don't see any. It only shows up on reality programs where people spill their agony, which apparently the rest of us find vastly entertaining.

These entertainers (for that is what they are) absorb all our toxins and vomit them up, so we can go on our merry way behind our plexiglass masks. Jesus, look at the hoarders and bipolars and fat people and drunks and fools. Thank God it has nothing to do with us.

This started out to be about my endless frustration in my chosen field (or maybe it chose me), and ended up here. Pretty bleak. So I guess I don't fit the slot I'm expected to fill.

If you feel "bad", that's "wrong". So you must strive and strive, and go out and party, and use cognitive techniques, until you feel "good" again. "Good" is "good". Anything else is unthinkable.