Thinking about that piece of emotional arithmetic, I started wondering if I shouldn't just expect it to take a year before I'm ready for something new. I've been carrying the weight of an unwritten long-form project for the last three years, but attempting to put pen to paper too soon after finishing 100 Demon Dialogues kept ending in frustration—a pervasive sense of wrongness. Date too soon after the breakup and it all seems like too much. There's an erroneous expectation that any new person will also magically carry the lessons and familiarities of the one before. Of course, you carry those lessons in your own bearing, so yes: perhaps the going will be easier this time. But, taken in a creative context, you're still going from touring a finished product to staring down the barrel of the starting gun, wondering (once again) if you're cut out for this after all.
I've found a lot of solace in Nick Cave's insistence about writing songs:
They are not inside you, unable to get out; rather, they are outside of you, unable to get in.
And how he's almost singing harmony with Martha Graham:
It is not your business to determine how good [your expression] is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
During a time when I'm starting something new and belief in myself can be thin on the ground, this is music to my ears. It's not my job to be good at this. It's my job to show up and do the work.
Stymied by drafting blog posts a couple weeks ago, I recorded a freewheeling twenty-minute monologue while walking through one of my favorite parks. It's unedited and goofy and deeply imperfect, but also the most accurate stab I could make at capturing the state of play in my creative life right now. (I'm also very proud to have cultivated a community on Patreon that makes me want to say "Be sure to read the comments!" because everyone chimed in with such gems.) I think I'll be doing more of them in the future, especially at a time when so much feels like it's changing into something rich and strange.
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