Ideas Found & Lost

Gif by: Kobe Nieuwoudt

Frantically, she searches for a pen and—forget paper, she’ll use her own hand and someone else’s if need be, she’s not above that. Anything to pin that idea to the ground, to keep it from floating away like a balloon into the sky. Anything to not be that child  crying for a balloon that’s already gone.

She keeps repeating the words, strips them down to the barest minimum, the most basic meaning. She moves heaven and earth for that pen, parts the red sea to reach it. And then finally, finally! The idea is bubbling in her head, intricate detail and symbolism weaving itself with the existing knowledge in her brain and—

But in that split second between holding the pen and putting the idea to paper, the whole world crumbles, all the characters fade. The verse and prose and metaphors are all gone, blown away like dandelions in the wind. She grasps onto the fading memory, hangs onto the words slipping into the void, but they don’t mean the same thing anymore. They don’t lead back to that world anymore.

For all intents and purposes, it is like the idea has never existed.

Note: Perhaps the most annoying, most unsatisfying feeling ever.

Artists’ Hands

Photograph by: Alexandra Pelletier

I love those fingertips. Gleaming, darkened with lead from sketching, from pulling out entire cities, worlds even, from the space between your brain and the tip of your pencil.

I love those fingers that are dexterous and have a strength all their own. Not the strength to punch or to lift heavy objects, necessarily. But the strength to create and care for growing things. I know that we need hands that can use force, that will prevent robbers from getting away, hands that are tough and can break things. But I am so glad that there are hands like yours, too. Hands that know how to be soft even when they are calloused. Hands that will save a life not by their ability to shoot a gun, but through the beautiful things they create that make life worth living.

I am so glad that your strength is softness.

It takes such courage to be soft, naked, in a world where people are always packing on the layers, as though life were an endless winter. But it’s hard to be that person. And I know there was a time when you gave up. When softness hurt too much. When people nicked your skin with the thorns of the flowers you gave them. But you understood, one day, that the world being harsh is no reason for you to be, too. If the world is harsh, then it needs more softness. And if not you, who? If you do not lead by example, then who will follow?

It’s hard to remain soft. But youyou live like that, knowing you could never be any other way.

Note: This one is for all the lovely people out there who remind me time and again that softness is not weakness.

When Writing Becomes Jarring (The Art Block)

“Because the words will not pour from my pen. Make no mistake, the pen is brimming with dark ink, but it is my mind that is dry, bare. My mind stutters. “

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things that can happen to a writer or artist, aside from being told that Art is nice but, is the art block. Even worse, it is the art block that happens from having an idea without the expertise to bring it to this world. Because the words will not pour from my pen. Make no mistake, the pen is brimming with dark ink, but it is my mind that is dry, bare. My mind stutters. I know the words, I know what I want to say but—

How do I express myself when I do not know how? Lately, I have been experiencing a version of Life that is greater than my current skill will allow to recount. The colour of this emotion, my pen cannot hold—only now is my heart even grasping at its edges. The feeling eludes me. It feels like trying to catch sand from the seabed with your bare hands. At first it feels full and promising in your palm, but when your hand comes back up, it clutches onto nothing. The sand has been washed away by the current. I keep trying to maraud the ocean but I lack the skill to go after what is right in front of me.

Writing is jarring. It is not always cathartic. It is not always bleeding at a typewriter. Ironically, writing may even become the very thing that makes you seek catharsis. But I am a fool, always have been. I continue to go down the train of thoughts that lead to nowhere. I explore the convoluted maps of my imagination, this meshwork of thoughts and words, knowing it will all end in no particular way at all. I turn a masochist almost, seeking the thing that will surely antagonise me most.

But I have learned that—well, if writing is a skill, then surely, I can get better at it. I can learn. So, on days when I cannot write, I read. I still write, and I know it will not be what I expect it to be, but I go on.

All of Life is made of successes and failures, why then should Art be any different?


No such thing as “Bad Art”

“You cannot lie to Art. It demands every last piece of you, every bit of feeling, every last web of thoughts.”

Art by KwangHo Shin

Have you ever had days when you feel like you regret everything? The past, the present. And if you try harder you might just regret the future too. Because everything you do is just wrong. At work, in relationships, in decision-making and—even in art. And that last one hurts. Because Art gives meaning to life. It makes life better, it kisses your wounds, comforts you when you feel nobody can see you, it speaks to your soul, it makes you feel when the world makes you numb. Art is the one friend who never lets you down. So it hurts to know that you can’t even do that right.

But that’s where I draw the line. There are no mistakes in Art, because our art is the reflection of our innermost selves, our art is our feelings. And how can a feeling be a mistake, how can a feeling be wrong, when it just is? The only way you can mess it up is when you hide. When you are scared of what you feel—when you try to repress it, it shows. You cannot lie to Art. It demands every last piece of you, every bit of feeling, every last web of thoughts.

And no, your art isn’t bad because you can’t draw the other eye. Your art isn’t bad because you can’t get the shading just right, or because the words on paper don’t flow like they do in your head. You’ll get better at that, don’t you worry your heart.

We need to be real, and true.
Then maybe the art will follow.