06 October 2015

This Is How We Die

Written 29 September 2015, 11.38pm.

I mentioned in a recent post how all my creativity is gone. As if it was never there -- just gone. NaNoWriMo is coming up and although I'm coming up with the occasional one-sentence plot idea (which is almost always enough to get me a full-blown novel), none of them capture me. None of them offer characters, setting, motivation -- just a sentence of a potential plot with everything to offer and yet nothing. Usually I can't write fast enough in my notebook to keep up with the thing.

Part of it, I think, is that my novel last year (Kyrie) was so different, so intense, so poetic... it's far and away the best thing I have ever written. And I know that the next thing I write will not come close to that level. I like to think I'm okay with that -- maybe I am, maybe I'm not. But the really different thing is that even though I wrote it almost a year ago now, that book has never let me go. I have literally re-read it once every couple weeks ever since I finished it. I find myself needing to re-read it, even though I practically have it memorised, typos and all. Something about that book was the true me -- the one I've never really been able to find. It synthesized all my hopes and dreams and fear and pain and I keep coming back to it because it understands me like none of my other work has. Today, in fact, I wrote an epilogue to it (in typical Kate fashion, I didn't actually write an ending for it at the time because I couldn't think of one). Until today, I had not added a single word to that book. It's the original November 2014 rough draft that I keep re-reading.

But part of it, I think (and this now includes choreography and photography, not just writing), is that reality hit me this year. I was talking with a friend the other day and we were talking about how I often feel like I have my head in the clouds. And she said something along the line of, "Yeah... but you're at least aware of the real world." This year, though, I saw people die. I watched several marriages die, and nobody cared about them. (We should give funerals for marriages. A dead marriage kills the couple and any children and siblings(-in-law) and parents and nieces and nephews. When a person dies, it's one person. It's awful, of course. But when a marriage dies, it's akin to genocide.)

The thing is, yes, I was aware of reality, but I ran on sort of a parallel track -- a track with dreams and passion and love and hope. I touched the real world, but I wasn't locked into it. I could pull back when I felt I should. I could observe it and step in when I felt the occasion required it. Maybe it was escapism, but it kept me sane. And anyway, I wasn't pretending the real world didn't exist, I was just a step removed from all the hysteria that constantly seems to consume people (have you SEEN a Facebook news feed lately?). But now, with all those deaths in such quick succession with little to no warning, I can't get out of the real world. I can't step back into my imagination, my creative brain, my world of participation in the arts, no matter how hard I try. It's as if a door has been locked, and I'm on the wrong side of it without a spare key.

And today I realised -- this is how it happens.

This is how people become the soulless cold unfeeling drones that I so dreaded becoming. This is how it happens. People die -- real people; people you love. And then so does the artistic brain. I always thought people's spirits died when they went to college or got a 9-to-5 job. But now I've done both, and although both made my life significantly busier, it did not kill the spark of creativity, of love for life. The divorces in my extended family, however, did. Suddenly I realised nothing would ever be the same, there would always be someone missing, and no amount of art can replace them or bring them back and bridge the chasm between what should be and what is. So what's the point? Maybe there is none. (This is another one of those things which I swore I'd never say.) Maybe I just toil out the next mile at hand and I pretend the lively Kate never existed -- not in this world, because in a way, she never did. She was one step outside of it. And that one step represented an entire world of inspiration.

(Tangent: maybe that's why Kyrie resonates so much with me. The story takes place over the course of a year and a half, and it chronicles a college junior's friendship with a freshman named Kyrie, from the time he meets her till the moment of her death. It's sort of Mary Poppins-esque. And throughout the book -- mostly due to the first-person narrator -- Kyrie is often depicted as a tiny bit otherworldly. She, too, ran on a parallel track to the rest of the world.)

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