Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Begin Again

I came across an interview with the much lauded Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat in an online publication, The Rumpus. I know Edwidge. We went to the same college, and for a while moved in the same circles. She found early meteoric success and became a darling of the literary world. That did not stop her being kind and warm whenever we met. She is humble, a poet to her soul, and easy to love.

Toward the end of her Rumpus interview was the exchange below. For me, it landed like a clarion call to retrieve all the hope I've misplaced in the last few days, and not just because of heart-rending happenings on the southern border. Closer to home, I was wrestling with less dire concerns. And yet, they made my heart feel locked in a fist, my breath shallow, and at the edge of consciousness, vaporous fear. My editor didn't like where I chose to begin the story I am currently writing. She wants me to begin in another place. I will confess, though I was outwardly willing and positive, inwardly, it took some processing. It caused some pain, there I confessed it. I also wasn't sure I agreed, but she's the one who must be pleased in this equation. And so I will write a new chapter for her approval. On a good note, she loved the narrative outline, so it wasn't a complete fail. 

In any case, Edwidge Danticat's words found me today like an angel's song, reminding me to persevere, the stand in solidarity with all struggles, large external ones, and quiet internal ones. Doubt only weakens us, robbing us of the inspiration to meet each new challenge, making us forget that we can take them one by one, minute by minute, breath by breath, and do what's necessary. 

Thank you, Edwidge. Today, you have saved me.

__________


Rumpus: Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist At Work is the most important book for me in terms of understanding the artist’s life and the trials in truth-telling ... This framework of accepting the haunting and inviting the spirits in: when and how did you discover it?

Danticat: ... Create Dangerously was about giving myself permission. There are people who come into writing emboldened and formed. I wasn’t like that. I had to learn to give myself permission ... that this is a worthwhile endeavor, that I would fail sometimes, it would work sometimes, but like Maya Angelou says, that place had been earned for me. All I had to do was claim it.

__________

The photos here are by my niece and goddaughter Dani, who is following the call to write, and who is in Australia right now, gathering experiences. These sumptuous shots were taken at The Grounds of Alexandria. I'm sharing them here simply because I love and miss her, and because her photographs increased the beauty in my world today. She, too, is saving me as she travels the world, creating dangerously.


3 comments:

  1. Creation always holds danger in its hand, doesn't it? Is that because we are taught from such an early age to hide the truth? For me that is true. And yes, some people come into writing so emboldened and formed. No. I'm not one of those either but dammit, Danticat is right. "But like Maya Angelou says, that place had been earned for me. All I had to do was claim it."
    Phew. Well. I believe her.

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  2. I think of all the artists -- the writers, the painters, the agitators, who wrote through Soviet oppression, through every kind of oppression, really -- far greater than what we are experiencing (or beginning to experience) here, and it gives me some hope. I have to believe that art, the dogged creation of art and expression saves the world as it saves the soul.

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  3. "In any case, Edwidge Danticat's words found me today like an angel's song, reminding me to persevere, the stand in solidarity with all struggles, large external ones, and quiet internal ones. Doubt only weakens us, robbing us of the inspiration to meet each new challenge, making us forget that we can take them one by one, minute by minute, breath by breath, and do what's necessary."

    Thank you and Edwidge Danticat and Dani for what you've shared today.

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