Today’s guest pole is by author Nancy Stohlman.
It’s been a common theme in 2020: commonly prolific writers determining themselves creatively blocked. And there is nothing more painful for a imaginative nature than to not be creating.
Of course we blame the Corona scorched-earth meltdown. I make, we were blindsided. We weren’t ready or expecting this. It’s as if we got our middles collectively violated, and no one learnt it coming. We’ve probably cycled through our stages of heartbreak, maybe multiple times, and now we just feel unsettled in this awkward aftermath, this endless innovative desert.
So now what?
How do you write when the world has broken your feeling?
I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift’s brand-new book. A spate. And I’m not at all stunned that TS has been able to compose under quarantine; she’s made a career from controlling her heartbreaks and turning them into artistic fodder.
Which got me picturing: Hey, wait a minute. We’ve all done this before.
Remember the poem that spouted from you in the midst of high school angst? The lyrics you wrote during late-night college sorrows? The attractions you sketched as you wet-nurse your bruised feelings back from the appall of despair, betrayal, cracked promises, or loss?
If you’re like me, you probably have lots of experience turning heartbreak into art.
It can be tricky territory, though. For example, in 2016 I struck by a drunkard motorist, but I had no desire to write about it. I didn’t want to recount it because I was still living it; the tragedy was gazing me very fully in the face. And my own Corona heartbreak is similar–a desire to be writing swept with a strange sort of numbness and a dearth of ideas.
But, while it’s true we’re never the same after a destroying gale, there’s likewise nothing most potent, more transformative and eventually more provoking than the humility of being smacked off our hoofs. When we’re off balance, we assure the world in an entirely new way.
We’ve actually met it worse by not engaging in the one thing that would stimulate us feel better: art.
Back when I was a smoker, I smoked twice as much when I was unnerve. It made me a very long time, longer than I’d like to admit, to realize that chain smoking on my figurehead slouch just made everything worse. I was just hurting myself on top of hurting myself.
Like now. We’re previously upset, we’ve once had to suffer through loss, misfortunes, grief, despair, dread, thwarting, upset, and not writing is just obliging the whole thing worse! Because you know how the world is right when we are writing. And we owe ourselves that glee, specially now. Because those late-night heartbreak lyrics did make us feel better.
So it’s time to get back out there. No more nursing our winds. With a little effort, and a lot of trust, we can move away from heartbreak and back into creation.
Start sluggish. Be gentle. Baby steps. If your writing may seem like a stranger, then you’re going to have to get to know each other again. Start with coffee appointments rather than dinner. Keep your apprehensions low-pitched. Even 15 minutes a day is cumulative. It’s better to sit down every day for 15 times than not at all.
Be private. At least at first. Just as you wouldn’t introduce someone to your part pedigree after one year, keep your bubbling baby intuitions private until you get through got a couple of dates.
Take a risk. This will keep it lively and also initiate that smell of wonder and newness. Write poetry if you usually write prose. Write song or participates. Or maybe it’s ultimately time to try your hand at twinkling myth and figure out what all the fuss is all about?
But most importantly: know that broken hearts heal. And the rupture stirs them bigger in the end.
It’s time to get yourself back on world markets, friend. And the best way back to your own inspiration is just to begin. Imperfectly. But begin now. The elation of enjoying pole heartache is you are wiser, stronger, and all the more provoked because of it.
Nancy Stohlman’s new aircraft book, Going Short: An Invitation to Flash Fiction, is available now from Ad Hoc Fiction. Stohlman has published multiple journals, and her project has been anthologized in the W.W. Norton New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction and chosen for The Best Small Fictions 2019. She schools at the University of Colorado and various regions of the world. Connect with Nancy at her website.
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