Amorphous Press

A fellow D’Youville alum recommended that I check out the Marginalian newsletter (then called “Brain Pickings”) — and it does not disappoint. Maria Popova gives us many deep and thoughtful musings, incorporating any and all disciplines as they relate to personal human experience.

From a recent edition, we find quoted the words of Nick Caves,

All my songs are written from a place of spiritual yearning, because that is the place that I permanently inhabit. To me, personally, this place feels charged, creative and full of potential…

My experience of creating music and writing songs is finding enormous strength through vulnerability. You’re being open to whatever happens, including failure and shame. There’s certainly a vulnerability to that, and an incredible freedom… To be truly vulnerable is to exist adjacent to collapse or obliteration. In that place we can feel extraordinarily alive and receptive to all sorts of things, creatively and spiritually… It is a nuanced place that feels both dangerous and teeming with potential. It is the place where the big shifts can happen. The more time you spend there, the less worried you become of how you will be perceived or judged, and that is ultimately where the freedom is.

He’s talking about songwriting, but I feel it applies at least as much to writing in general.

All writing is to some extent a form of giving witness to things — internal, external, or imagined — that need to be expressed. We fill in the space by opening it up to the atmosphere outside ourselves and wanting the air to rush in. But I never realized until reading the above that we’re talking about something best described by that one word, vulnerability.

How many of us authors feel the strain of vulnerability in every sentence we intend to spread upon the field of public criticism? Do our fictions reveal more of ourselves than we could — or would — display to strangers, even family and friends? Do we even dare to share some of our works with kith and kin? Why do we so often use a nom de plume, and avoid using a photo portrait on the dust jacket? Sure, we agonize over the synopsis, the acknowledgments, the bio, but it’s the work itself that is the performance. We can frame it how we want with marketing bluster and cover art. But those are all behind-the-curtain controls. The rest — the actual work of our writing — is on stage, under the lights, and once published and in people’s hands, there’s no do-over. It’s an eternal live performance and you’re the star. That’s an awesome and terrible responsibility of self-representation.

Any act of writing is an unintentional exercise in psychoanalysis. Being able to finish and publish a work takes a certain amount of self-acceptance to tolerate such scrutiny. It takes not just fortitude, but real courage. That’s why most of us need support. You may or may not get it from family, and that’s a whole other story. And you may or may not get it from fans. But we as authors must support and uplift each other. We need “group counseling”, even if it’s just a Facebook group or two.

Anyway, I just wanted to share these thoughts. And now I am more aware than ever that it reflects me more than the reader, and I must come to grips with that.

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