My latest published journal entry raises an interesting question: How to produce art without thinking of one’s reality? That is, how do we — as artists — handle creating art that might offend/upset/clash with our real life.
I struggle with this. When I was working on my MFA thesis, I wrote a book of poems centered on (very abstractly) a past relationship that I was in prior to meeting my husband. Why?
Because that’s all I could write. It’s what I needed to write. It’s what inspired me — and in a sense could not be controlled. If you’re an artist — of any kind — I think you probably understand this. That feeling of inspiration.
As a poet, I faced a blank page every day, and some days — if I was lucky — words would tumble out. Images. Like “fall leaves and lights from windows.” Like “on the side of the road, covered/in stones.” Like “swimming in green fog.”
Often I don’t know what the words mean until I spend time with them, revising, moving them around the page. To write my thesis, I had to put myself in a dark place; I had to feel the pain of the past relationship — and, at times, that made me feel like a bad wife. My art was butting up against my reality because I found myself depressed in moments.
Even today, as I work on a memoir about love, I’m exploring past relationships, including the one on which I wrote my thesis. This is not easy. I am happily married with two beautiful boys, and I try to be present in my life with my family. But then I must face the page, my art.
As I continue this blog/project, my present and my past are sure to conflict. I’m nervous about this, but I take it one day at a time, one journal entry a day.
My husband has always been supportive of my work, but this doesn’t mean it’s easy. I love him for this. Just know that, please.