I have been struggling with my writing lately. It’s not a big secret. Or even a particularly shameful one. Everyone has moments when they feel like they are floundering, even when it’s in an ocean of their own design.
‘Tis the writer’s curse, they say, to be haunted by words that seem always just out of grasp, phantasmagorias that linger and tease and move through the air with both graceful fluidity and sharp punctuated movements, like squids.
Squids and writers have a lot in common, actually.
For example, squids have three hearts.
And I think writers do too.
They must, because the very pursuit of their craft means they are constantly being stabbed in the heart, or in the general vicinity of the heart, at least. Two of these three hearts exist merely to take the abuse of the world, because people are assholes. Assholes who are dismissive and cruel about artists in general.
As an artist, my life is open to the opinions of the world in the way that, say, a plumber’s, is not. If a plumber screws up their job, something leaks. Or explodes. Or something that was meant to flow away from your home, flows the opposite direction, resulting in fecal matter streaming over your designer floor tiles. There is nothing subjective or up for interpretation about turd water floating into the hallway. Shit flushes or it doesn’t.
Artists also do their jobs; a writer creates a short story or a screenplay; a sculptor fashions an art piece from clay and steel and plastic components; a poet authors a sonnet. But for these folx, people will line up to loudly have their say about how horrible they think their work is. Because art is subjective. One man’s jar of distasteful piss is another man’s critical commentary on the hypocrisies of the Catholic church.
Critics will tell you that you are not good enough. They (and often your own inner demons) will tell you that will never be good enough. They will look at you with those judgmental eyes that say that you are doomed to follow a passion that will only break your heart over and over again. You will sink into debt, despair, and probably addictions. They worry (usually aloud) that you’ll never find love, when you are worried that you will never find peace.
They don’t know that they are breaking your heart.
And they don’t know that writers and squids have hearts to spare.
And so the writer smiles, knowing that while one heart is breaking, another is healing. And the third one is pumping enough oxygen and energy into me to fuel my fantasies of bathing in the blood of my enemies. Sometimes this bathtub is full of ink in my waking reveries, but usually it is filled with blood.
Anyway, writers and squids.
They both often look effortless to the outside world. Like we are both just lazing away our days, drifting on the tides. But trust me, our lives are stressful. And every now and then, when you poke or threaten us, we will spray you violently with ink.