The Consequences of a Darker Heart


Our 52 weeks are almost done, and though I think I know what I’ve learned from this whole (failed) experiment already, I’ll wait to sum it up when I’m actually with Hananah, ringing in the new year from Dubai. That’s right! I’m leaving on a jet plane for Dubai in a few weeks! *SQUEE*

I had thoughts on Claire Vaye Watkins’ essay published in Tin House and shared by gazillions that I was interested in discussing, such as does an artist have an audience, and if so, who is that audience and why? Or is there such as a thing as art for art’s sake? I discussed this with my former teaching bud, Ms. April Vincent, as well as with some other dear friends of mine, but really, I don’t know that I would be contributing anything new to the discussion.

Now, cut to this morning in 8:30 Mass at Christ the King Catholic Church. I’m sitting there, kind of spacing out, hating how that back problem I’ve mentioned feels when perched in wooden pews (we won’t even discuss the kneeling), as Father Dexter discusses in his homily the importance of keeping one’s heart open.

Blah, blah, blah. No offense, but I’ve heard it before. Forgiveness and hope and all that jazz. Yep. Got it. But then he said something that snapped me back to attention.

He said, “Or else we suffer the consequences of a darker heart.”

Damn. That is a hell of a phrase. I wrote it down immediately.

Hananah and I have gone through ups and downs in the lines of this blog. We have gone through many more off stage. We have both suffered with the fears, sadness, insecurities, and hopelessness of the writing pursuit. Because let’s face it. We could write stories for ourselves all day, and read those stories back to ourselves, and giggle and nod and go to sleep, happy and amused.

But that’s not what we’re doing. We are hoping someone else is going to like the writing. We are hoping someone else is going to think it worthy of sharing. We are hoping someone else will be moved.

So, no. Art for art’s sake? No. There is always an audience. It’s the motivation behind creating something that is beautiful: to share the beauty (or grotesque or depressing or fulfilling). We humans love to feel together, and that’s why we create and share art. My final answer is that the sake of art is to move another. It’s the point. Not to achieve fame, fortune, or notoriety, but simply to share the feeling. I enjoy the process of writing for my own escape, but I revise in order to achieve maximum share-a-bility. (Er. Dear Santa. Please send a thesaurus. Much obliged.)

Oops. I discussed it anyway.

There have been some dark days, I’m not gonna lie. The toll of email after email saying, “Yeah, thanks, but no,” makes you question your own sanity for exposing yourself like this. What the hell is the matter with us? Why would we do this to ourselves?

And then, a cloud settles over the heart.
Things I have said to myself in the last month:
“You suck.”
“Why do this?”
“You may be a better photographer; why don’t do you try that instead?”
“Your writing is juvenile.”
“You don’t work hard enough.”
“You should sleep less.”

“You’re ugly.”

“You’re fat.”

“You’re kidding yourself.”

“You’ll look back one day sad at how you never achieved your dream.”

“Stop calling yourself a writer.”

“Did you tell someone you’re a writer? That’s pathetic.”

“Your thighs do not seem to change even when the scale does.”

“Why even go to that reading and act like a writer around a bunch of real writers?”

“You’re just not good enough. You’re just not.”

These are the consequences of a darker heart. It does nothing good. It only hurts.

I’ve often asked myself, “Who cares if I quit?” No one. No one cares, right? So it doesn’t matter if I keep going like a fool or don’t. Whatever. No one’s watching.

Except that’s not entirely true.

My kids are watching. They will know one day that mommy gave this a shot. Fox has already asked me about my writing stories, though he thinks they are more like children’s books. He wrote a story for school called, “The Ritin Moster,” in which, The Riding Monster faces the conflict of having no bike to ride. But *spoiler alert* the monster gets a bike on the next page!

I remember writing stories like that when I was a kid. I loved it. He loves it. It is something to love.

We all know the consequences of a darker heart. I don’t want Fox to know them, though he will, but I can refuse to succumb to them. I can only encourage him to keep his heart open by opening my own.



2 thoughts on “The Consequences of a Darker Heart

  1. Andrew Towle (@OVOandrew) says:

    Photography is a cop out, so don’t do that. Unless you really want to.

    Like any passion that takes work & consistency, sometimes you just need to take a break to get things back in order, rather than just grinding to make something that you don’t even really yet understand happen. A story every two weeks might be forcing it.

    Another suggestion: Find another piece of writing (or something else, an experience, anything, that moves you) and write your response or reaction to it. Maybe do it after thinking about it for a while. Rather than just piecing something together or anxiously anticipating for the right thing to come along.

    These suggestions are very simple and you’ve probably already considered these….but just my two cents. I’m not an expert. 95% of my writing up to this point has just been essays. And the world opens up when you’re confident. Nobody was ever successful in their field without being confident. None of those doubts you listed really matter.

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