the three graces, acryclic on canvas, by caroline allen www.carolineallen.com
The protagonist of my first novel Earth is named Pearl, as is a metaphor for the black pearl, as in rare and dark. I recently finished the third draft of the novel in Budapest. After I dotted the last i, I felt I’d hit an underground cable, some deep vein, because afterwards, I was fucked up. Girlfriend, I was a complete wreck.
I’d heard other writers say this about finishing a novel. The post-partum depression. I’m sure each writer’s post-book blues has a different flavor. Mine was a mantra I couldn’t get out of my head: “Nobody cared about me.” Pearl’s life is a fictionalized version of mine. In writing it, I hit upon some core personal truths. I finished Earth two months ago, and still I couldn’t get the mantra out of my head.
Finally today, I understood it — I’m sharing it because what seemed a personal issue is actually a social one, a global one. And it was that understanding that began to blow open the creative doors for me this morning.
“Nobody cared about me.” What an awful phrase to have binging around your head like a pinball. My first reaction was to mollify that inner voice — of course they cared, they did the best they could. Etc. Etc. Blah blah blah blah blah.
I am not just talking about family, here, but teachers and friends, and others. Nobody cared about me…the mollifying just wouldn’t work; trying to appease the beast just didn’t work! I just couldn’t get the phrase out of my mind. I’ve learned from long experience that my healing always begins with taking whatever comes up seriously, and not trying to pacify it.
So, there was truth in the statement. OK. I’ll go with that. So what do I do with it?
What I realized this morning through journaling was this: most of us are taught very young that our essential natures are not OK just as they are. We must fit in. We are forced into an existing world structure, that has nothing whatsoever to do with who we really are. To be the essence of who I am, an artist with an eccentric voice, to flourish as such, I MUST first understand how I wasn’t accepted/acceptable. How no one was. Our parents and teachers often worked to wean us off our passionate selves because that’s what happened to them. (If you were one of those people whose parents themselves were artists who rejected being normalized, and in turn nurtured your essence, count yourself lucky.)
Finally, the message that came to me while journaling: You’re good enough just as you are. You don’t have to try so hard to fit in. Just be…w-h-o y-o-u a-r-e!
So much rage is coming up around it all. I’d rather it be rage than depression. Anyway, I journaled it, and the message that came to me: Honor the rage. Let the bitch run free over the wild Serengeti. You’re right to be enraged. It’s enraging! It’s unnacceptable. Not just for you, but for everyone. For all those people you coach, who must spend months if not years struggling against all that negative reinforcement to get to the core of their passion. World rage, world violence, is ALL to do with this core repression of self.
It’s bullshit. Rage against the machine. Put that vile hatred, that anger, into your art, in your painting, your writing, your photography. Rage is passion too!
The concept is coming up everywhere in my life.
One of the new projects I’m working on is to bring my work as a writing and creativity coach through Art of Storytelling into corporations. I coach many writers who work full-time. We struggle to schedule time for their writing and their coaching sessions outside of their hectic schedules. And we have to deal with how their lack of creativity at work drains them and hurts their creative process. As they increase their soulfulness through writing, the lack of spirit and inspiration in their jobs becomes even more burdensome.
Why not hit the problem at the source, I thought? Why not hold workshops that plumb the depths of artistic, innovative, dynamic ways of thinking?
Already, even in the planning stages, the task seems formidable. Why do corporations think creativity is kooky? Do I really want to put my precious energies into battling that beast? Why is it thought of as professional to deny the creative self, to put on a mask and pretend to be someone you’re not? What are people so afraid of?
The rage. The pain. The remembering. They’re afraid to open that door. They’re afraid to look at exactly what they might be missing.