I find myself, on this afternoon thinking hard about the subject
and the title of this post. I find myself wondering who will read this,
and wondering slightly too much about who won’t. My finger hovers
over the delete function button every 15 seconds or so. I realize that
this is going to be a post where one or two people might read it, and
be hurt by it or by the implications. More so as I work on a fourth book
of poetry that pushes the envelope more than what some have come
to expect from me.
I breathe. I realize that healing, hurts. And that is the fear that makes
many of us hurt, hold on to hurt no matter how little or huge. And so,
I’m writing this out to you, dear readers. For whoever needs it, especially
my fellow creative types.
I came to a certain truth a few years ago. I’ve touched on it in previous
blog entries. That truth was, that we sometimes emotionally cripple
ourselves because we think that’s what life demands of us. It’s even more
of a truth when it comes to doing something creative that we love. And
even if we do wind up making the conscious choice to do something
creative to bring light to the world, we will encounter others who are doing
the same but still holding onto certain patterns and behaviors that are
emotionally crippling. Things that can basically mess with you, even if
you have shielded yourself. I don’t care who you are: no one is totally
immune to the surreptitious impact of emotionally crippling behavior.
And when you’re someone on a creative journey, it becomes even more
apparent. And you may feel the effects more strongly than others, more
because you may not be doing the work to repair your own self-inflicted
wounds and you’re now suffering wounds and slights from others.
So what do I mean by creating while emotionally crippled?
For me, I’ve been writing since I was younger. When I made the decision
to go after making writing a career a few years ago, I knew the risks that
would be present. I had to confront a lot of things over the course of that
time. I had to admit that I was damaging myself, crippling myself in an
emotional way because I didn’t like sudden and dramatic change. I had to
admit I was bowing to timidity set within me from when I was small. I had
to admit that I let the stress of working at a job where certain people
either disliked me for certain reasons, or flat out devalued me, get to me.
I had to confess that I allowed the small-minded and one-dimensional
folks who offered opinions ranging from the sarcastic to the indifferent
get to me. All of that shit weighs you down more than you realize, like the
way your abdomen feels after a meal where you pushed your luck a little
too much on the side of rice. It eats at you. So you confront it. You work
on it, and in the process, you find yourself more free to create. More free
to express that inner voice.
In that state, I find myself feeling like no one gives a damn about me or
my writing. I ask myself what it’s all for. I find myself getting pissed
and then withdrawing from the world. I wind up worrying people because
of it. I wind up looking like an asshole because I have to step back in
order to deal with all the emotions instead of stuffing them down within
me like dirty clothes in a hamper straining at its seams. Then, I breathe.
I start the unraveling. Identifying the triggers. Then working through it.
I realize that this is the process I need to stick to, in order to live and
create in a healthy way. I remember having a conversation with an elder
head once, and he said one thing that stuck with me: “artists, no matter
what, have to create. if we get cut up, we take those scars and make them
art. we get broken, we build something out of it so others can flock to it.”
I know that there’s one or two people who may read this and feel a way.
I’ve had a couple of talks with people who I’ve had to be real with in terms
of how they view me and treat me. I’m not so naive to think that there
won’t be more talks needed with others. I’m also not so naive to think
that there are some who’ll even care where I’m coming from. But, they’ve
saved me the trouble of kicking them the hell out of the cipher. Sometimes
the trash does take itself out. But you have to be mindful enough to tell the
The sun is beaming in as I head into the home stretch, so I’ll close with this.
Creating while emotionally crippled is not something that should be aspired
to. I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s cool to “suffer for their art.”
And as someone who’s a Black male writer, even more so when it comes to
other artistic creators of color. But there are those of us who do it, and do it
so well that you won’t realize it. I say to you, if you know someone like that
or suspect that they’re there and will front for the ‘Gram or anywhere else –
be supportive. Even if it’s a random hello. Even if you just share how their
work impacted yours every once in a while. Because art is healing, and while
healing hurts, it doesn’t have to continue to be painful.
As always, walk good.