I have an insane and somewhat deadly process of writing fiction-namely, that I sit and wait and listen to music and walk and doodle and coax the world in my head onto the page like a tapeworm.
Blogging is in some ways much easier for me (see? I’m doing it right now!), it’s more natural, the gratification can be instant, it requires a level of authenticity that feels organic for me. Besides, when I write these posts, I’m usually talking about feminism, one of the defining aspect of my political and personal identity. Chuck Palahniuk says, “Write about the things that really upset you. Those are the only things worth writing about.”
*Spoiler warning* The center is my fictional life is a motley crew of characters based around one-a feisty, artistic, earnest woman named Leah Stern. I’ve spent the last five years sculpting her life, although it’s often a slippery process and she’s constantly changing. I want her to have everything, and because of that, I rarely think about things like race and class when I’m drawing her out. Her main relationship is with a heterosexual man, she went to an Ivy League college, her life is comfortable, she benefits from all sorts of privilege.
Most of this isn’t even my life experience, far from it. But it’s comforting. I’m writing a story I’d want to read-something strong and textured and compelling, but it’s also not an expression of my politics.
I know- it’s fiction. Writing it means stretching in a different way, using different muscles. Living my politics means recognizing my multiple identities and what it means to hold them, but I struggle to reconcile the desire to represent those politics with the impulse to take refuge inside a space of my own creation, knowing that the ability to make that choice is a kind of privilege in itself. I can choose to do one and not the other, I can integrate, I can refuse to pay attention to either.
So the bottom line is that I’m wondering about the purpose of art, and what my relationship is and should be with it. It’s not a simple answer, it shouldn’t be, it’s a deep tension that will probably always exist. The best I can probably do at this point is develop a focal point, maybe a mantra, to the effect of “Make this be for something.”