Susan . . . . go to your room and don't come out again until it's CLEAN . . . wait a minute . . . DO I HEAR TYPING??!!

It doesn't look like Cinco de Mayo in my studio today -- it looks more like the day AFTER Cinco de Mayo, assuming you got drunk and had a really big party and went to bed without cleaning anything up, and then someone accidentally set off a bomb in the room to top it off.

And unfortunately, the mess has seeped into every adjoining room or hallway on two floors, so I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and under-inspired.

I decided, therefore, to just pick my way through the rubble to the computer and pretend the mess would clean itself up for awhile.  After an umpteenth trip to IKEA this morning, in which I discovered that they've quit selling the light I've had my eye on FOREVER to go above my desk (because I always say, "I'll get it next time . . ."), I decided I'm tired of thinking about it all and I may as well write my Wednesday blog post and remember TIDIER times.

I can't even enjoy watching Bonanza in the kind of mess I've got brewing.

Life would be much simpler if all I had to do to move was pick up a ream of paper and my trusty portable typewriter and go wherever my inspiration took me.  I wouldn't need shelf space, or closets, or a vast expanse of work tables, or even good light.

Just my wits and my words and a little peace and quiet.  Hmmm . . .

This leads me to think that it must be time for another installment of
Small Works Secrets.

It would be most honest to publish an essay entitled  Small Works Secret #3:  The Pig Sty 

. . . but I haven't written that one yet.
So instead I'm going to go with this one --

Small Works Secret #3:  The Truth

I am a surprise artist.  
My art is like a surprise party, and no one was more surprised than I when I opened that door and it started to shout.

But what you might not understand is that I am an artist out of fear.  I am a secret writer who masquerades as an artist, because it would be perfectly acceptable to fail at something that no one expected me to be able to do in the first place.

It's hard to put my art out there, but much easier than putting my REAL work out there which is the work I'm too afraid to do.  And if a life lived in fear is a life half lived, then this half is pretty great but I can't help but wonder whether the other half might not be even better.

But where to begin?  My words reveal me in ways my art does not, and therein lies the fear.  And then there are the people who would populate my pages.  What might my words say about them? And how might it affect those important relationships, the ones that have shaped my life and would almost certainly shape my stories?

I want to write what my father should have, but has not.  He remains a library of secrets who says much but reveals little.  I want to write what the child did not know how to say, or never dared.  I want to tell the things my mother could not show.  

Instead I sew what my words can't say, but the stitches are easily misunderstood.  

And so I thread the needle and start again.

Wool is soft but words are sharp, and if you can't write the hard things then you can't write truth.  And you don't need a degree in writing to know that in the truth lies the difference between good writing and great.  That's simply the way it is. 

I dance on a ledge 
where art and words meet, 
but where the words 
hold themselves back, 
timid of the edge.

So I stitch . . . prodded and pricked by a multi-pronged fear that 
is in a constant battle with the need for self expression.  
And that is my secret truth.



Cami said...

It would definately be sad not to see the fruits of your labors but maybe you need to write "The Secret Book(s) of SMH" and leave them in some safe deposit box to be opened by your great grand children and published. I am positive you would be a best seller! Wait . . . that means I would not get to read them. Bad idea. Go with the pen name instead.

Whimsey Creations said...

..."if you can't write the hard things then you can't write truth"...
Sure you can. And just because you write the hard stuff doesn't mean anyone has to read it. The 'easy' stuff can also have truth to it. Go for it girl! Remember those words will belong to you and you can do with them whatever you want.

Allie said...

Susan - write. Everyday. I mean other than blogging. You have a gift, and you need to cultivate it. Even if you never dare share it, just do it.

luanne said...

So you had me laughing at your opening line but my insides were twisting by the end.

You are much too good a writer not to write. So write what you will, when you're feeling it, because what you can authentically express at one moment in time may be quite different if you wait till later.

Then share or not, at the time and in the manner of your choosing.

I understand your need yet reluctance to write the hard things; balancing the desire not to be hurtful with your own desire to express your truth is tricky business, a ledge-dance for sure.

But you can write your truth now, so your words are there on paper whenever the time is right.

susan m hinckley said...

LuAnne, that's wonderful advice -- and thank you all for your kind and encouraging words.

I'll always love writing of all kinds, but I guess there's the general writing and the "need to" writing, and I feel like it's the "need to" that is always trying to get out and will probably be the most worthwhile someday.

But I'd be happy to get paid to write most anything, when it gets right down to it. I guess I ought to start peddling . . . which feels a little like looking over the edge of the cliff . . . I really like blogging because I can just hit, "Publish!"

Amelia and Justin said...

At dinner tonight, I got a fortune in my cookie that made me think of you, and this post in particular:

"Two small jumps are sometimes better than one big leap."

Maybe taking a few small steps will make it seem less scary? Although, I don't know what those small steps would be when it comes to writing (maybe your small works essays??). Anyway, I thought of you, take it for what it is :)

susan m hinckley said...

I love that fortune, Amelia! Thank you so much for thinking of me. You didn't happen to save it for my collection, did you??!!

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