19 August 2010

Monsters, irascible inner critics, and Merilee

"Hybrids are used to strengthen the homogeneous. Grafting different orchids together makes flowers nobody has ever seen before. Cross-pollinating makes hardier fruits and vegetables. Hybrid cars are more energy efficient. Not one, or the other. Both. Conjoined. The hybrid/monster can be sensed even from the shadows. Poison Ivy left behind her traces of vanilla scent. The snakes in Medusa’s hair hissed." 

 Sezin Koehler, from a hybrid/MONSTER manifesto

When I read The Fluent Self, I find myself enmeshed in Havi's language, the way she talks to monsters like inner critics, doubts, and fears. I've been hanging out with my inner writing critic since I started writing stories on yellow legal paper in this maroon recliner in our farmhouse over two decades ago. I discarded the stories over and over because I didn't like how I had written the words. I didn't like how the words looked. I was obsessed with perfect transcription and had no idea that a first draft could be messy and alive.

I think about the 9-year-old me who threw crumpled pieces of paper on the floor because she thought writers were always surrounded by their maimed, discarded thoughts. The opposite of cultivating a creative life.

Once proud of moving overseas with only a few suitcases, I now have stuff spilling over. And not just physical stuff, but also taking time to work on things that I love, building in quiet time into my otherwise bell-clanging-kid-filled day. Words fill up space. Ideas fill up space. Sometimes our own thoughts seem insurgent to the ones before them and that thinking takes up space. How do we live with conflicting ideas? Mediate

I'm in the middle of making 1,600 words a day for thirty days come to life. These run-at-full-tilt-projects are what keep me energized and fueled up.

It's a lot easier to take a break from my irascible inner critic thanks to the 15-year-old girl in my head telling me what to do. Not my adolescent self. Merilee. The girl in my NaNoWriMo novel who's father writes eulogies for a living and who's in love with a celebrity. Totally not my thing to write about celebrities - it's all Merilee's doing.

And then there's this other way of looking at monsters: Sezin Koehler's collaborative hybrid/Monster project is a glimpse into how letting the shadowy side of our selves be visible can create rich, creative, multifarious ideas of beauty.

What are your monsters, and do they ever help you discover something wonderful? 

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