My Why (an artist’s statement)

It’s bullshit when someone says, “Because I can’t NOT create.” I’ve said this before and know it to be bullshit of the worst degree because NOT creating is the easiest thing I’ve ever done – letting the world live ME and eat me away one eyelash and arm hair at a time.

Creating is harder. It involves experiences I’d rather forget and words I wish I’d said. It’s choreographing a collision where there can be only one survivor, and that one survivor might not be me. Characters die, shows end, curtains come down, periods are placed with fine points and keystrokes, and people say “fuck you.” To create means running the risk of destroying something inside me because a moment’s truth is more important than my emotional safety.

I create because of the feeling I get when I find an idea I’m willing to get to the “fuck you” for. A story to be told that consumes me so completely that I have to ask IT if it wants to drive and half the time, it rips the keys straight from my hands and is out the door and down the stairs before I can even get my shoes on.

I create because it forces people into my life – a life I’d happily live on my sofa with one Small Dog, one ancient cat, and a man who looks like Clark Kent, my only connection to the world a keyboard and a 1 GB internet connection because I want both my solitude and social relationships at speed and with minimal physical contact.

The ether and experience of others breathe life into my heart that hides behind a dank cellar door, the very heart that knows that the only reason Meredith Gray and Annalise Keating are still alive is because of the people who want to look away…but can’t. This heart of mine that found itself at the brink, one where I was ready to let go. Expire like a bloated half gallon of 2% milk two months past expiration, hurled against a refrigerator door. Become nothing because I felt nothing and maybe at the end of the line, there would be…a feeling. And once away from the brink, I realized that feeling was other people. And while other people can be gross approximations of humanity, there’s also a cove in the far reaches of wherever I live that breeds humans who, despite their demons, are worth it. The space between these people is where the stories worth living and telling lie.

I create because the world can be a shitty place and sunshine in short supply. Creating sends me through the depths of hell – or worse, some bastardized idea of heaven where all is forgiven and there are no eternal consequences because every instance, each moment is true in that moment. To deny a moment’s impact on forever is to wander through life without ownership and places me above recourse.

I know there to be recourse. Consequence. Impact. That one true moment will lead to the next moment that’s just as terrifying, even more so, or so completely joyous that it challenges my ability to comprehend.

My life is a relentless mission to ask, “What could be worse than this?” so that I can tell you with unwavering certainty what I know to be better.

I create because vomiting my feelings in one creative way or another is better than using my body as a bookshelf for volumes of pain and worn bookends of beauty. And it’s not that I believe creating should hurt or that art is pain. It’s just the simple solace of knowing I have a productive place to put my hurt, joy, questions, frustration, angst, disbelief, and slow-boiling rage when life kicks me in the dick I never knew I had.

I create because without the creative process, I can’t laugh. I can’t weep. I can’t feel anything in between because the creative process gives me the one thing no one else can give me: validity for my experience. As a woman, a human, a partner, a loser, a victim, a winner, a mess. Because I am all those things and to deny them their moment in their moment is cruel.

I create to let those feelings know that they’re valid and have a place to live and while they might not be true in the next moment, they’re deserving of the same air I breathe.

And finally, I create because there is no “and finally”. Creating means there is always another page, another performance. Another point of view and another conversation to be had about what I’ve unleashed into the world. Creating is about getting to that “fuck you” I’m willing to fight for so that somewhere, someone has such a visceral reaction to what I’ve created that a tiny part of them hates a tiny part of me for making them feel it.

To create, to collaborate. To find the ether of experiences beyond my own. To use privilege to empower and humility to discover then understand all the things I have left to unlearn.

The entire process of creativity and living a life in its servitude means that my heart and mind are infinitely capable. The people I love are infinitely loved. The stories I tell will live beyond the last turn of the page, closing credit, or curtain call because of what they evoke in the people who receive those stories and find their truth illuminated, if only for a moment – like a firefly trapped in the thick, mid-June air.

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