Grinding My Teeth

Up to 1,550 words.  Not even a dent in my 20,000.

Grrr……

But I have coffee before me, a workout behind me, and I feel like I can do a good chunk today.

::sipping and typing away::

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It is very strange being a writer-artist and a scholar-activist and also trying to be human at the same time.  I feel as though part of me is being pulled in a very lonely direction.  When I immerse myself in my work, research, characters, plotlines, or historical narratives, I am so happy I literally feel high for a time.  But it also requires that I leave the real world for awhile.  Phone calls get dropped, activities are missed, birthday are forgotten.  And before I know it, a week has passed, so has the high, and my personal relationships are in the gutter. 

Lorraine Hansberry wrote:

“Eventually it comes to you:  the thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely…” (May 1, 1962)

I am lucky that there are a few people in my life who know this about me, and who accept it as the price of being in my family.  I am thankful they are far more accepting of me than I am able to be of them, or of myself.

It is still bracing to transition between the two.  High to low.  Crowded (with people long past or people living worlds away in my head) and then alone. 

InaDWriMo 2008

I will be participating in InaDWriMo 2008. It actually started November 1st, which makes me a couple of days late on this post but not on starting because…well…not much was accomplished the last two days. At least not in the realm of academic writing.
Participate by registering here (which basically means leaving a comment). Or cheer me on as I go.

If you aren’t comfortable joining in on the fun after the party has started, leave a comment here. We can support each other!

My goal is 20,000 words.

::twirling:: Ok, so here we go!

ps. In case you want to nurse your literary side instead of your academic side, Tayari’s got links to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and her custom creation NaFinWriNoMo. So no excuses! Get to writing–whichever way fits you best!

I Need to Write

“First forget inspiration.  Habit is more dependable.  Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not.  Habit will help you finish and polish your stories.  Inspiration won’t.  Habit is persistence in practice.”

Octavia E. Butler. “Furor Scribendi.” In Bloodchild and Other Stories, 137-144. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press, 2005.  (emphasis mine)

Discipline

“And one soon learned that the wild, transcendent moments which occurred at dances or “battles of music,” moments in which memorable improvisations were ignited, depended upon a dedication to a discipline which was observed even when rehearsals had to take place in the crowded quarters of Halley Richardson’s shoeshine parlor.  It was not the place which counted, although a large hall with good acoustics was preferred, but what one did to perfect one’s performance.”

Ralph Ellison, “Hidden Name and Complex Fate” (1964)

Woman to Writer

“Ellison emphasizes the individual as an artist, the individual as a
person (man) of color growing and creating in this world.  As a woman
of color that doesn’t apply to me.  (I would argue it doesn’t apply to
men either.  Mr.’s favorite argument with me is that I haven’t
influenced him because he’s gotten to where he’s gotten to on his own. 
Word?  If I had a dollar for every late night phone call of moral
support I could pay my own tuition.  Privilege works in the silences,
but male privilege is still amazing to me.)  It doesn’t apply to the
women I am researching, women who survived slavery not by standing
alone in their unique experience but because they drew on networks and
knowledge of their mothers, aunts, and sisters (and fathers, brothers,
and lovers) before them.  And alongside them.  And passed those
resources on, which were worth more than money, because a wealth in
people replenishes itself. “

In “A Writer Because of Her Children,” a 1976 review/reflection on Buchi Emecheta’s novel, Second Class Citizen, Alice Walker writes that Emecheta “integrates the profession of writer into the cultural concept of mother/worker that she retains from Ibo society.” 

How?

I am a writer who is a historian who is struggling to integrate profession of historian/academic into the cultural concept of woman/activist/artist that I retain from my Afro-diasporic experience as a young black and Puerto Rican woman of color growing up in a post-60s, post-70s, Hip Hop generation, post-feminism/pro-womanism world.

Whew.

I am sure Emecheta struggled with a myriad of such labels including being a woman, being an Ibo woman, a mother, working-class, immigrant, and artist. 

We already know that Alice Walker struggled with being a mother and a writer herself. 

I guess the question is, in what way am I historian because I am all of these things.  Or do I need, like Ellison seems to suggest, to take a sabbatical from the world, go into my little corner, and punch out 500 pages of genius, historical scholarship?

::pause::

good questions.   

Yup, Lauryn is back on the blog.  I don’t know why I always return to this song in the early morning hours when I’m frustrated, can’t sleep, unsettled, and anxious.  I gotta find peace of mind…

I can feel a silence creeping up on me, crawling up from my chest, spreading its tentacles across my shoulders.  It is reaching up my neck, wrapping around my throat.  It almost has me. 

If it could, silence would choke me.  Forever.

I don’t know where it comes from.  I am not the only one who has felt it–if I only knew what it was.  This is obviously a problem for someone whose profession is focused on research, reading and writing.  For someone who sees herself as a writer, an artist.

“For I feel that the new emphasis on literary critical theory is as hegemonic as the world which it attacks.  I see the language it creates as one which mystifies rather than clarifies our condition, making it possible for a few people who now that particular language to control the critical scene–that language, surfaced, interestingly enough, just when the literature of people of color, of black women, of Latin Americans, or Africans, began to move to “the center.”

Christian, Barbara. “The Race for Theory (1987).” In New Black Feminist Criticism, 1985-2000, edited by Gloria Bowles, M. Giulia Fabi, and Arlene R. Keizer, 250. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007.  (emphasis mine)