Get Me Out of Here

From Writer Unboxed:

If there’s a Church of Emotional Truth in Writing, I’m a founding member. “Write the truest version” is my mantra, and I’ve written novels exploring fear and loss and shame and passion and love and I’ve written essays on the importance of vulnerability in writing. Yet as I struggled with the start of a new novel recently, I realized that I don’t really want to write my emotional truth right now, because I am in a dark and difficult place, as many of us are. All I really want is to be somewhere, anywhere, else. Give me an escape.

Since mid-March, I have watched the entire Lord of the Rings extended edition movies all the way through (twice!). I’ve seen all three seasons of the British sitcom Miranda (also twice). I’ve read ten or more novels (who can keep track of anything these days?) that have taken me from 1960s Louisiana (Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half) to Narnia (yes, I re-read C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) to mid-20th-century New York (Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn).

But here’s the thing: escape has not dulled my need to create. “To make art is to wake up in a state of craving, a craving to discharge resentment, rage…And the making of art has a curative effect. A tension you are under disappears, dramatically.” (A comment by visual artist Louise Bourgeois, as quoted by writer Jamie Attenberg)

. . . .

So I am escaping, but I’m also creating. I’m writing poetry, a new discipline for me. I’m working on the opening pages of a novel that has elements of magical realism, a new genre for me. I’m cooking more frequently which, believe me, is an act of creation. All those things transport me someplace else. Is there value in escape? I believe so, for these reasons:

It provides perspective. Yes, these are hard times. But they are hardly the hardest times. Read (or write!) about the 1918 flu pandemic, the Civil War, or the plague (one of my favorite reads is Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter, about a woman in 14th-century Norway). Stories of how people have faced catastrophe and endured or even bloomed are road-maps of a sort for all of us now.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed