Writing does not make you neurotic, neurotics are writers. -Nora Roberts
I listened to a recording of Nora Roberts from the 2012 RWA conference this week and smiled at this. It has been my experience that I’ve also found this true. I was first described as neurotic with a side of high-strung when I was eight. I thank providence that Dr. Suess had no strategy written in my mother’s book to ‘fix’ me. She let me fly and soar. She signed me up for Art classes at the local museum.
I met Louise Nevelson when I was nine, she had a show at the Currier Gallery of Art, where I took classes. Her work resonated with children and she embraced us with her eccentricity. She created worlds within worlds within worlds using found object, chisel and wood. Then, she painted her sculptures in white or black. Light or dark monochromatic magic. I was enthralled, they were a jumble of toys / dollhouse / birdhouse / castles to my junior mind. She was my first taste of genius, in the flesh. Goddess Grisaille. She taught us tiny artists that to create is to live, to create art is to dance through the days of your life.
“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.” Harper Lee
I have always written to please myself, creativity is the ultimate masturbation. Being an artist, I layered on a thick skin. I also discovered early in life that most people do not ‘get’ an artist, even other artists. We are so odd, that meeting another odd duck can be unsettling. “Am I that weird?” “Why am I not as normal?” “My work is nothing like their’s…” or worse: “Their work is exactly like mine.”
Twenty-five years ago today, I sat under a white awning in sweltering heat as two Marines folded and refolded the flag covering my husband’s casket. They couldn’t give it to me until it was Marine Corps perfect. I was mesmerized by the sweat dripping off their faces onto the stiff cotton stars. While they were busy acheiving their perfect folded triangle, I looked around the cemetery. It was new and I tried to think of what was there before, when we were stationed at Quantico. In a sharp backhand from Mnemosyne, I suddenly remembered it as where we young Marines went parking. It took all the green of my inner Marine to not burst out laughing.
I waited a week and went back after midnight and positioned my headlights to shine on his grave. I sat and traced the letters with my finger and told him that he rested where we first kissed. I looked up to see eleven deer standing quietly watching me. I counted them three times but I knew they were years. Eleven years later, I met my next husband and finally returned to art. I painted and wrote like a madwoman, I vomited the paintings and words that had been held down by grief and debt. So, there is little wonder in my heart that I am writing so many words a day; I only needed to dust them off.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair… -Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
This first brilliant sentence of Dickens played through my head while attending RWA13. I spent the entire time exhausted, overheated and yet, I was inspired and made a few new friends, reached a few sad realizations, laughed and moved on. I love being me, even if I am in a minority. I love being able to finally write full time and dream of painting again. About 90% of the people I have known and loved have moved on through death to another life, perhaps we crossed paths in Atlanta.
It’s good to be home and surrounded by the four bat-shit crazy furry huskies who saved for me mounds and mounds of hair tumbleweeds that gathered in the corners. It’s good to be in my husbands arms and tell him of the woman who wouldn’t talk to me because she said my energy was too strong, or the wonderful Nancy Fraser who taught me in 5 minutes, how to successfully pitch to an agent, and Isis who also waited for Starbucks to open at 6 am and wrote of wolves and pack love. My husband has agreed to go next year with me to Texas, so I will wake each morning in his arms in a bed without dogs or puffs of fur.
Life is too good and wonderful to allow those who were mean to touch me. There are so many things worse in this life than mean girls or women trying to revisit their mean glory days. I will wear my leather again to protect my soul, I’ll wear my dress blues to give me strength and I’ll keep on writing the damn books.
A Woman Writer Aging by Tori Derricotte
Women, Creativity and Aging a Bershire’s Conference
Oops! 50 Women Bloggers over 50.