The Perfect Wor[l]d - 10
I have noticed how regularly writing these words comes so easy this time. I know, it has only been 7 days and I missed 2 but I still wrote 10 entries. I am content and I do hope it lasts. I wrote ‘wish’ and Google has automatically corrected it into ‘hope’. Still, wish and hope are different to me. I hope, yes. But I also wish. I had a look online about the difference: wish underlines a sense of nonprobability and impossibility… I didn’t know that! Hope, instead, provides an idea of likelihood in the outcome. So, thank you Google! I hope, I hope!
Julia Cameron has today suggested in her book that I acquire a creative totem, something that I feel a strong connection and a sense of protection for. I remember finding in June last year on the street outside the Empire Theatre in Blackburn a little teddy bear . I looked at it, and walk past, and then had to stop in my tracks to go back and pick it up. It is a 2002 Champion the FIFA Beanie Baby mascot (retired on June 22, 2012): a kid must have dropped. In the beginning, I played with the idea of propping him (it was already a him) on the railings if the kid were to come back. But then the instinct was too strong. And I put it into my bag. His look, and softness, and intrinsic sweetness are incredible. I believe I am a 52-year-old grounded and solid woman: still to me it feels like he has a sort of life of his own. That we were meant to be together. He has been in my bag often, close to me. I tried to blacken his nose and badge to no avail [deleting his uniqueness? turning him into bland and boring? uniforming?]. And I checked online: it is sort of collectable… Still, he stays with me. When this morning I was reading Julia’s book and she suggested we find something we can feel compassion for, I automatically thought about him and went to pick him up. So, he is now sitting next to me and he watches me writing.
Any time I will feel that I am not doing enough, that my writing is not good enough, intriguing enough, interesting enough, basically any time that I am enough-ing myself in any form, I should be looking at this Creativity Totem, at this little beauty that needs caring for and protecting, and I can then remember to feel compassion for my art, for my creativity.
This morning I noticed how in my creative endeavours I have always felt blocked and I have not been willing to work on some of my pieces - regardless they were writing experiments or not. I have always felt a deep sense of overwhelming nausea at the idea of having to amend, check, re-do, re-shape, re-present, re-visit, do a second draft, add more, change something, when prompted by someone else. Some year ago, my second book was read by someone in a high position at a famous Italian publishing company: talk about approval! It came back to me with lots of favourable comments and the request to expand the central part because, she said, she wanted “to know more”.
I never did it. And the book has never been published by that company. My excuse was that it was perfect like this, that once it was finished it did not belong to me anymore, that even translating it into another language was something not up to me to carry out (I have lost count of how many times I have been asked to translate it into English). Only now I realise that my excuses were more of: like it as it is, i.e. like me as I am; and: you don’t understand me; and: my art is different; and: I really can’t be arsed; and: I am feeling very discouraged. Even the pieces of my last exhibition CONSERVATION are still in a box, and the book containing the feedbacks and comments is hidden somewhere, like if I were scared of having to face the ‘after’ of the work. I hide, I disappear. I have no sense of love or care for what I produced and for my efforts.
But I think there is a story behind it all.
I must have been 6 and I have this memory of being in my parents' bedroom, while my mother is ironing or doing something else and I am filling in pencil a page of my workbook with ‘i’s’. I see the deep green of the walls, the headboard, the blanket. I am kneeling on the wooden floor. I am learning to write, you see. I can smell the pencil, now. The HB on the paper, with those wide lines in faint black and red. I can see my hand: my very first act of creation. My statement. Weird enough: not a particular symbolism in Italian, the letter ‘i’; but in English, the language I’m writing now, it carries this vital sense of identity: I, I am, I am writing, I am a writer. Then my father would come home. It doesn’t have to be that specific day but every evening he used to sit in the kitchen and ask me to show him my homework. And, using a ruler, he would tear the pages and ask me to do it again.
Until it was perfect.
I was only a little girl learning to write. There is no need for perfection.
This is why I think that the idea of if I have to be writer, I have to be a perfect one, otherwise it is pointless even trying begins then, in Tolmezzo, in the early ’70s.
At primary school, the dreadful Maestra Ferigo then mocked me because I used foreign words, important words, literary words already at a very young age, words which were then common in our household. No wonder I felt so much shame attached to my art-making and creativity. No wonder I always fell short; no wonder I always wanted to be the best.
But now, this realisation frees me in using complicated, foreign, literary, aulic words. Made-up words.
I can write (dontouchmescaremeyousay)
of me being inexorable
will (I) am await/ing
in inclination I dawdle
to endowment am patient
in acquisition engrossed
ingratiating, irrigate a desert
of my unblushing optimism
If this is the way I work, if this is the way I want to create, this is my way.
And there is nothing wrong with my way.
No blackening of nose for us!
Like a modern Don Quixote in gonnella I can shut:
“I can be right when everybody else around me - and society in general - is wrong”.
© mtomat 2019 - written on 08.07.19 - no reproduction without permission.
* you can find some of my short stories and poetry in The Men at My White Table here
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