Tuesday, June 18, 2024

I was going....


Dear You,

Hey, it's me again.  I had to write again, because I don't want to read even One More Word before I tell you something.  It's because it changes me, all the words, all the ideas; it makes me doubt my feelings, my memories, and mostly that is fine, but I really want to explain something in my own way, before it has slipped into the shadow of what The Real Writers have said.  (n.b. I believe there are actually only two modes, two verby places you can be:  Writing, or not writing.  Both are very real.  The funny bit is that there is no difference until there is this complimentary (symbiotic? parasitic?) action place that you can be:  Reading, or not reading).  

Well that is more than the usual amount of instructions, isn't it?  It's just my way of beating about the bush, hoping to feel more at home with my topic.  Let me start again:

Title:  Worldbuilding.

Dear You,

It's something about world-making. About the audience, about who it is for, this thing you make, you made.  It wasn't a castigation for me to be a mom, it was a redirecting, a new audience for the things, worlds, I made.

At night, I would build great towering block sculptures on a low/coffee table (this table, even, was 'made'; it had been a normal, chair height table; we cut the pedestal in half, and I painted the top of it pale yellow, and the apron with lines from the Wordsworth poem about daffodils), and my son (which is not how I have trained myself to say it, I avoid it, the damned 'my.' Not my son, but a son of mine, a person, who exists with or with out my mineness), my son would wake each morning and hurry down to topple these block towers.  It was a percussive, joyful destruction that was the start of day building for and with him.  A railroad, a story book, a cake, a drawing, a mess.  I made these things for an audience of one, and it was the most appreciative audience you can imagine- utterly devoted.  He loved everything I did, and I loved everything he did.  Occasionally there was some kind of sense of my value from an external point of view that tripped me up, that made me worry I was nothing, or that I should be doing something else.  The work of it, performing mother, performing family, felt great to me; it was only the occasional intrusion of the outside world, another world, that had me wondering.  Someone would say, 'can't he make his own sandwich,' and I would feel terrible, like I had stolen his independence and subjugated my own.  When you are very high, you can also fall to a very low down, I guess.

You can say what you want about the artistic impulse and vocation, but when I make something, a painting say, or these words here, these writings, I want someone to see them, I want an audience, a witness to my construction, and when you do something for someone, when you make them a sandwich, a scarf, an afternoon of conversation, you are getting your audience.  The thing that you make and the audience are totally interchangeable.  You make a party, you make a statement, you write a letter, you write a poem.  You give it to friends, family, a publisher (so they can reject it).  

This has been on my mind for years, this contrary feeling I have about being a mother, about having been a mother.  It was the same for me, to make a stuffed velvet ball with a jingle bell in it, or a wooden rattle, as to make a sculpture; the difference only was in that the child really, really appreciated it, thought it was magic to have made it.  I have not received such acknowledgement of my art from anyone else.

A trouble arises in me still; a concern that this makes me soft, un-ambitious, a flabby feminist.  But I hope that maybe you will read this and find it acceptable, this delineation of the truth of my experience... instead of continued hiding and hoping that no one notices how good I had it, how much fun it was to be appreciated as a builder of worlds, a maker The World.