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Exploring A + B

July 1, 2016

Why am I so angry? Why am I so bitter?

Hold up. People =/= emotions. People feel emotions, which then pass through them. Well, maybe these particular emotions are stuck. But even if so, I am more, much more, than any individual emotions.

Why do I feel so angry? Why do I feel so bitter?

There are creative things I’ve been trying to do for 7 or 9 or more years. Every time I get close to actually starting, a wave of feeling that the world is about to end shows up and won’t leave until I give up. So I give up.

Part of what keeps me on Twitter, I realized yesterday, is an unconscious desire to get approval from someone before I start a creative project. Except that when I talk about something personal, generally no one responds.

{Which is discouraging but… it’s actually a better reaction than what I grew up with.}


When I was growing up, if I really really really wanted to do something (specific), I would have to make a case for it to my parents, because they controlled resources. I would have to get permission. Someone would have to buy supplies.

There were so many individual nodes along the way where my whole endeavor could get derailed. Did get derailed.

{I fear if I start talking about individual episodes — because there are so many — I’ll get bogged down in feeling like crap again, and never get back to this particular topic. Which I’ve been trying to write about for months.}

What else can I try?


What kind of life can a creative person have, when that creative person does not have anyone who cares what they do? How they do it? What it looks like at the end? Why they did it?

The world’s acclaim is perhaps a poor substitute for someone who actually knows me, genuinely caring about what I’m doing. {Would be doing.}

Of course, I don’t have the world’s acclaim either.

Surely that’s an entirely different set of problems.

This seed fell on rocky ground — I’ve known that for years. What can I do with where I’m at?

= = =

What if Cento 5 isn’t really “about” FJG? What if it’s “about” me? Why does suggesting that feel like I’ve somehow hollowed out what my own poem is “good for”?

Well, I have good reason to believe that I myself am not interesting to anyone. So if the poem becomes “about me”, it loses the audience that cared about it when it was “about FJG”.

Story of my life really.

I’m counted as an intelligent and insightful person… as long as I’m talking about anyone but myself. If I do, in fact, talk about myself however, I’m just another bore. (Or maybe, boor.) I would be more than happy — I would be ecstatic — to hear intelligent and insightful comments about myself from someone else. That generally only happens, though, when I’m paying a therapeutic professional. Otherwise, I seem to be entirely invisible to people who have intelligent and insightful things to say.

That stage of one’s life, I think it’s around age 2, where you’re exploring the world, then running back all excited to tell mom all about it? And she oohs and aahs and wants to know more? Yeah, that’s not how that happened for me. If I wasn’t telling my mother herself how amazing and wonderful she was, she wasn’t interested. So I learned how to do that.

And I learned how to pitch my own interests to her as if they were going to be credits to her. Which is what gained me permission to start. But by all that’s holy, every single fucking thing I ever did better be a credit to her, and her sensibilities and her aesthetic!

I never painted with red or orange. Too loud, too trashy.

I wasn’t able to become an abstract expressionist at age 11.

The way I mixed food flavors was weird and gross. “Cooking is following recipes! Everyone knows that!”

{Huh, I’m crying. What brought that on?}

“Playing a musical instrument is about making music other people recognize! Stop fooling around! Play the songs that I like!”

“Wow, your playing skills are terrible! You need to practice more. I don’t care what your teacher said — you’re going to be practicing every day for at least 30 minutes! I’m setting a timer, and I better hear you getting better!”

You do have to wonder when the only song in my beginner’s guitar playbook that my mother was interested in hearing was a ballad about murder and death.

Months later, when I was finally allowed to quit, “Your grandparents spent a lot of money on a beautiful acoustic guitar. You wasted their money. What’s wrong with you? You’re a quitter. You’re never going to amount to anything!”

I was 8 years old.

= = =

In second grade, some girls I knew were taking guitar lessons. I had to lobby my parents for an entire year just to try it out. And then it was awful, because of my mother.

I was never even allowed to explore whether I actually like music or not. I still don’t even know.

Everything was just a means to Doing Something Amazing, Something That Brings Acclaim.

That’s not at all how creativity works. Most efforts at everything fail. Innovation is messy, and often not appealing to other people.

= = =

Maybe I’m going about this all wrong.

I already know that when I want to start something new, whatever idea I have about what it’s going to be, changes drastically when I’m actually working with my materials and tools.

So the seeds of ideas I have now… are untested. They bear no resemblance to whatever I’ll eventually come up with. And they don’t have to!

Maybe I’ve been hamstringing my own self! Because I’ve been selling the ideas to myself as “fool around with X Materials because I’ll be Creating Awesome Thing That Changes the World and/or Everyone Will Love!”

If I never get started, I never find out that, actually, most people are meh about my stuff. And it doesn’t Change the World.

Thing is, I don’t care so much about the world. I just want to try out my own idea.

Wait, what? “I don’t care so much for the world… I just want to try out my own idea.”

I think that’s the revolution right there.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Sue T permalink
    July 1, 2016 10:59

    Blanket permissions and approvals for you, available permanently!

    Also, I think you are a very interesting person!
    Even though evidence available to me is based only on your writings, I notice these:
    – Your comments on Havi’s blog are often different from other commenters’ and enjoyable to me because of the difference. Often they are insightful in different ways than I would have thought of myself, at all.
    – You are powerfully insightful in your own blog here. I aspire to be this clear about myself in my own writing.
    – Not only that, when you post your book reading lists, it is clear you are willing to use this space entirely for your own purposes, regardless of what anyone else might think a blog should be. I admire that, and say yay for you!

    “I want to try out my _own_ idea(s)!”
    New post-it for my bathroom mirror.

    • July 1, 2016 20:48

      Astonished and humbled by your comment. Thank you so much for telling me your thoughts!

  2. vagabondtabby permalink
    July 1, 2016 22:04

    I like ‘fool around with X materials because playing is fun & I might come up with something neat’.

    Putting it that way makes it sound easy, which of course it’s TOTALLY NOT, I get the Monster of But You’re Wasting All Those Materials & also the Monster of You Have Been Messing Around With This For Like, And Hour, And It Still Looks Like Shit, Give Up Now. It was SO HARD to get to the point where I could just play & was okay with that. But! I have more-or-less gotten there, & it is really cool.

    This may not be a thing that works for you! You might find an entirely different path to your creativity. But I believe that you _will_.

  3. Siderea permalink
    July 2, 2016 00:51

    First, I want to cheer you on. I think you’ve touched something deep and important in yourself with this, and I hope it liberates you as much as I suspect it will.


    Many years ago, In my later twenties or early thirties, after a band rehearsal, I went out for pizza with three of my fellow band members. We were sitting there in the pizza place, and I don’t even know how it came about, but at some point in the conversation, I was complaining bitterly about how nobody ever listened to me. One of my band members listened to this little tirade and changed my life by replying, with the slightest of asperity: “Siderea. We are listening to you right now.”

    My first knee-jerk emotional response was to dismiss her comment, to argue with it and invalidate it, but, thankfully, before I could get something foolish out of my mouth, my brain caught up with me and observed, “…She’s not wrong.” And I pivoted a bit, emotionally, to “well, okay, these few people listen to me”. And I realized: they did. They really did. And it was like waking up. I had never felt listened to, but it wasn’t that these people didn’t listen to me. It wasn’t just that they were listening to me now, these people listened to me a lot and had for a long time. The people in the band generally accorded me and what I had to say enormous respect. And I kind of knew that intellectually – I hadn’t felt the truth of that until she said that thing.

    And then I realized that if my felt sense of whether I was ever listened to was at least as wrong as missing how the members of my band listened to me, then… who else was listening to me that I wasn’t noticing? And I suddenly realized that, actually, there were a lot of people who listened to me! And I was like, “OMG, I am listened to!!! This thing that I most wanted in the world, I already had and hadn’t realized! Why on earth hadn’t I realized this? Why hadn’t I felt ‘listened to’ when so many people were listening to me?”

    What I realized about myself was that if I spoke my mind to twenty people, and one was dismissive of what I had to say, or acted in a way that signaled they couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to what I had to say, it didn’t much matter what the other nineteen had said or done. All that registered emotionally was that one disrespectful person. It was as if I saw the twenty people I had addressed were one unified Them, and the disrespecter was the spokesperson for Them; I took the disrespect as the collective opinion and never internalize anybody else’s response as representative of their, or the whole’s, feelings about me.

    What my friend had said to me in that moment, by forcing my attention to how I was being – and had been being – listened to, triggered a cascade of realization that focused the lens of my mind so that, quite suddenly, I went from seeing Other People as a blurry undifferentiated Them, to crisp distinct individuals, who related to me each in their own way, and quite a lot of whom, in fact maybe the majority, respected me and my thoughts quite a bit. And my sense of myself as someone who is or is not ever listened to, abruptly changed.

    I am telling you this story for a reason. It is in this spirit that I endeavor to pass that experience on to you, saying as follows. Brace yourself, it’s going to sting a bit.

    I would be more than happy — I would be ecstatic — to hear intelligent and insightful comments about myself from someone else. That generally only happens, though, when I’m paying a therapeutic professional. Otherwise, I seem to be entirely invisible to people who have intelligent and insightful things to say.

    I am a person with intelligent and insightful things to say, and I have shared with you comments about you that I think you have found intelligent and insightful; certainly you have represented that you found them such. You have never needed to pay me to do so. You are not invisible to me.

    Not only have I seen you and shared with you my thoughts about you, please recall how we met, and came to know each other better. I reached out to you and invited you into a closer fellowship, because, quite naturally, I thought you were nifty keen. And so did the other people with whom you became closer through what followed.

    So, what am I, chopped liver? 🙂

    I’m not going to tell you what to feel. Maybe you were just being polite to me, rolling your eyes at my comments, thinking what I had to say to you wasn’t so intelligent or insightful. Or maybe it wasn’t often enough. Or maybe you don’t like me. Heaven knows, there’s been points when I would have accorded you a friend, and you’ve complained about never having had friends, making me think, “Oh, I guess our relationship isn’t as close/valuable to her as it was to me. My mistake.” Or maybe you don’t feel the relationship was adequately reciprocal, where you felt you attended to other people’s feelings and selves, and have been quietly resentful all these years that others didn’t do enough to support you. If that’s how it’s been on your side, then I guess that’s just how you feel and that’s all there is to it.

    But maybe what’s going on is that people have been seeing you, people with intelligent and insightful things to tell you about yourself, and you haven’t felt it. Possibly because they aren’t the “right” people, the people in your memory you’re still waiting to take an interest in you and give a damn about who you really are, the people that should have cared, but didn’t.

    Because if that’s what’s going on, all the intelligent and insightful people in the world might give a damn about who you really are, and you still wouldn’t feel it. You would still feel “nobody” cares.

    I know for an actual fact that people have taken an interest in you and given you all but engraved invitations to closer friendship. I have been one of them.

    It’s why I’m still here.

  4. July 2, 2016 03:20

    Vive la revolution!

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