terça-feira, 17 de novembro de 2020

writing, joy and blue days


“Joy is not made to be a crumb”


“joy in not made to be a crown”

both fragile certainties make sense to me. Although, I confess, there are times where I want some joy so badly, that I pray to gods without names, if they could please throw me some rests of it. It does not need to be much, just enough for me to forget this pain for a minute or two.

Other times, I wore my joy as a crown, I became one of these annoying moms that simply assume that people appreciate advice about how to live well. I think I developed it as a mechanism to desperately try to make my joy last longer. It never worked. I often ended up alone and empty, sad, having to pretend that the crown was still there when it had already vanished to the other side of the moment, unreachable.

Writing at times gives me joy. Other times simply gives me space to be. Like today. It is a gray and rainy day, inside and out. I am mourning the end of a relationship that I am not ready to let go. I am terrified of what will happen if I let change enter my life. I tried to hold on the doors and keep it out. But the truth is that that is an impossible mission. I can not really close the doors of my life to change. It comes from all the sides, under the broken window, on the shoes of guests, on the blank pages that I carried inside the house so the kids could paint dinosaurs, flowers and faces. Writing gives me a place where I can vomit all my pieces. At times, I am not even aware of the existence of such bits before throwing them up. Writing gives me a home, or almost it.

In our writing circle last week L. reinvented how one can relate to the old question “where are you coming from?”. It bothers me how obsessed we learn to be in this statistic world about the places where someone is born. We often throw the question “where are you from?” on strangers, as if they had an obligation to explain what they are doing here, why do they have the right to come here. We forget the aggression that such question carries. It is norm, that in small talk with strangers we always ask where she is from. Then L. suggested something different. Share where you are coming from today, emotionally, what did you do, how you are feeling, anything that you consider relevant. It was like, with that very simple gesture, she was deconstructing what does it mean to come from somewhere. She was removing it from this context of statistic politics and the states’ almost absolute right to exclude and bringing it to a light reflection about the conditions of existence of humans.

I found it beautiful and insightful. Such a question reminds us that we are always moving from one place to another, sometimes inside ourselves. I was coming from a blue day, I remember. First, I became blue. Sometimes blue takes me over almost like a wild dance, that at the same time that swipes me from my feet it gives me a marvelous high. Other times, it enters my life like a mad and violent monster, hungry to break me for good. That day it was the second kind.  By know I now that when blueness comes like this it is best if I put on my walking shoes and leave the house. It was what I did. After almost forty minutes walking it became easier to breathe again. I decided to sit on a bench and write a bit. It was then that I noticed that precious hour in which the day itself shift into blue as well. Between the mountains I could see the integrity and the power that knows how to inhabit even the bluest day. I dried my tears and smiled to the day. It had just reminded me that beauty can find its place among pain. I walked a bit lighter, blue, but also joyful, without a crown or crumbs, I simply walked grateful for been surrounded by those that still insist in remembering that perhaps “beauty can save the world”.

a hug and until next time

sexta-feira, 13 de novembro de 2020

thinking (together) about writing processes


What do I know about myself as a writer? And why am I asking this question?

Yesterday, I had a chance to think about these questions in the company of some amazing women writers that as me joined the Feminist Online Writing Comunity by NSU. (You can check it out here).

One of the questions that is growing inside of me for a while now, is whether we can think together (or rather all that we can do together is to collect material to think later, in solitude). That is an enormous question that I hope I will address in another moment.

Today I want to share some of the ideas and struggles that we talked about yesterday.

I used to think that one is a writer, but I changed my opinion. One becomes a writer, and there is just one way to arrive there, one needs to write. That is why we were asking ourselves what we know about ourselves as writers. So we can find the time, the space and the courage to write.

Moreover, I am in a moment of my life where I believe that whatever we become is not set on stone. Pretty much every aspect of life requires maintenance. Our existence as writers as well. It is not like I wrote this book and now I am a writer forever. I need to choose to become a writer again and again, and I can only do that by writing.

So, what do I know about myself as a writer?

I know that at the same time that writing gives me this sense of belonging to the world, this feeling that I am worth and valuable, it is also very easy for me to forget to write. That is the case because of this heavy illusion that I carried with me for so long. I am already a writer. I published this one book, I proved myself as a writer, I can call myself a “writer” and that is it. This silly attitude makes me lose so much. Most importantly, it makes me lose the chance to experience this magic flow that writing gives me, these moments where I genuinely like to be me and I am grateful that I am alive.

Thus, one of the things that I decided to do, after our sharing yesterday is to stop calling myself a writer. Instead, I will say that I write, or that I am working to become a writer, over and over again, until I no longer exist.

Yesterday we also shared very practical tips and attitudes that we see as helpful to our writing processes. It was mentioned that drawing between writing can be very helpful. It made me happy to see a plant people and a blue cat. I used to draw between writing as well, but for some reason I stopped. I think because I realized that I suck at it. What I forgot to acknowledge is that actually that does not matter. It is not about been great at it. It is about breaking a pattern, creating space for something else, inviting fresh air into your writing process. Other ways of arriving there are by dancing, going for a walk, or reading. I found particularly beautiful the description of L. She shared that at times, when she feels stuck,  she likes to go dancing with her question, and that she calls it “prayer”.

For me, another very important aspect of our sharing yesterday was about this tendency that many of us have to separate our writing processes from our bodies. What makes sense (actually it does not make sense but is understandable that we do it). After all, in this world full of male norms, we still learn that writing is supposed to be completely “intellectual” and rational. We are supposed to sit on a chair and think very hard (my mother used to tell me that I need to sit on my writing chair until some smoke would be coming out of my ears). We are supposed to forget our bodies and find this abstract, non-material power that is in theory the substance of writing.

L. and S. shared that they are dancers and that they are learning to connect who they are as dancers with their writing processes. I am trying to do the same. Not that I am a dancer, to claim that would be indeed to embrace the time of fake news, but I, as everyone else, exist in a body. I use this body to act, to perform, to tell stories, to cross the street, to go to the supermarket, to bring my kids to the kindergarten, and to do so much more, including writing. But it is not only that I use this body (my tendency to embrace this type of language is a consequence of too many years under Catholic normativity). I am this body. Why then, to insist in silencing this huge and essential part of me?

I studied Philosophy. In Brazil, in Portugal and in Norway I encountered an academic environment that still demands a kind of right way to do philosophy that is very similar to my mother’s idea of how a writer should work if she wants to succeed. What you need to do is to sit on a chair and think very hard, until smoke is coming out of your ears. That is exactly what happens when we make our bodies numb during the thinking process. We kind of burn something inside of ourselves. And it is not a summer fire full of joy. It is more like burning alive a piece of ourselves, for no good reason, mistakenly on the name of the primacy of reason.

Yesterday’s sharing invited me to bring into my writing process’s L. type of prayer. Every day I will allow myself to dance at least one song between my writing exercises. I will first write down the question that I want to carry with me to that dance and then, after putting it in a red box, I will simply dance, or better said, I will pray. 

We talked about so much more. But today my 45 minutes of free writing is over. I am trying to be a grow up and stick (or at least do an effort to stick) to my plans. Because of that I will stop here for today. I will get back to it during my free writing session tomorrow. 

As a farewell I will share the last sentence of the poem that A. shared with us yesterday, after all, I do believe on the power of recycling pieces of poems. 

"joy is not made to be a crumb" (from the poem Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver)

Fun fact, yesterday, instead of the true sentence of the poem, I heard what the red wine in my system mixed up with my obsessions invited me to see: 

joy is not made to be a CROWN

(to be continued...)

                                                                                                       hugs and until next time