August 27, 2017

Talk to me about the habit of art, and I’ll tell you about a workspace covered in Post-its, of the years when writing was relegated to weekends, of the people I neglected because of it. I’ll tell you of the times I tried to be more orderly and keep my mental breadcrumbs in notebooks or Word docs, of how my hand always found its way back to neon sticky notes, of how I eventually accepted the chaos. I’ll tell you how my process never felt good enough, full enough, long enough when compared to anyone else’s, how it took ten years and five books to convince me I must be doing something right, how there are days and mostly nights I’m still not sure. How outer life began to choke the space I’d carved for creativity, and I began to hoard what precious time I did have, guard it like the only thing that kept me sane, and maybe it was. But then I’ll tell you why I had to change that. How it had been a year since I’d driven the 20 miles to see my family, how I couldn’t remember the last time I’d read a book when I wasn’t half-asleep, how when something had to suffer for it, it was always someone. How maybe art is just as much what we do as who we are, and I didn’t like the person I’d become. I’ll tell you about a detour: a pile of theology by the chair, a pile of novels and memoirs by the bed, mid-week lunches and entire Sundays taken up by friends, whole afternoons writing essays plucked from scatters of Post-its. And yes, I put that meal on my credit card, and yes, I am still single, and no, I don’t have the life I always wanted. But at least now I recognize the woman who’s living it, and maybe the habit of art pushes us towards exactly this: how to uncover ourselves in the midst of it, how to reshape when it climbs past its edges, how to see it as the root of habitation, how to consider all it takes to make a home.

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