I started 2021 full of purpose. I had dubbed it The Rise of the Artist because I was so sure I had found my voice and it was ready to be heard. I thought I would keep on writing. I thought once the pen met the paper or my fingers met the keyboard, I would not stop. After all this was what I wanted to do. And just like that, the words fell silent. For nearly a year, there were sight murmurs but not enough to make me bleed on the page.
Instead I sang, I ran, I danced. Essentially I moved a lot. Doing everything to keep my body busy while words were stubbornly idle. The cursor blink was the only thing that lived on that very blank page. It was the scariest thing I could ever imagine and wished it upon no-one: a writer’s block.
While words dried up, I was utterly consumed by my day job (after all, there was a great deal of catching up to do). The more I pushed to get things done, the more things needed to get done. What I was doing was important to someone, somewhere. Ultimately it impacted the gentle identity it took me a lockdown to uncover: the one that held hands with my Inner Child, told her stories and encouraged her to come out of her shell. Didn’t last long though. Panic mode activated and the Grown-Up self took charge as work unravelled endlessly. The Inner Child was left unattended for a second and has been in hiding ever since.
Before running off, my Inner Child enjoyed having singing lessons while indulging her jubilation for West End musicals. The lyrics she was memorising and interpreting as her own perceived experience, involved not just the voice and its mechanisms but also her entire being. Sometimes she cried and sometimes she laughed (she carried those emotions in her tiny body as best as she could). For every note sang, another knot in the thread was unpicked. It was absolutely joyous! She decided she wanted to write lyrics. Her notebooks had scribbled ideas across several pages. She was happy doing that until the Grown-Up briefly let go of her hand to attend to grown-up responsibilities and off she went.
Part of me is very lost without her guiding me through writing. For her sake, I promise this year I will be more playful and let her be the creative force. After all, everything is magic when seen through the eyes of a child. And my Inner Child sees awe in most things, especially when most things involve music and dance.
The dancing! How could I forget about the dancing? Tango, the bad boyfriend, was back even if timidly. To hug again, to be part of a Portuguese Man o’ War of sorts, where two people dance as one and motion along with many other twosomes on the dancefloor. It was a new ocean to explore and conquer after months of tango deprivation. We were this siphonophore creature, floating on the surface and moving as the waves propelled us forward and in circles to the sounds of Canaro, Di Sarli and D’Arienzo. Music was – and always is – the real force of life on that floor, on the cusp of every mirada, every cabeceo, every embrace. If not for the music, would we even dance? If not for the dance, could we even imagine sounds and rhythms and words to pair up with the moves that sweep across the floor?
When music was not there, when Troilo and Pugliese were not playing in the background while walking, I found myself looking up. I stared into the capillary-like grey skies that denuded trees sketched wintery backdrops. Those lines were very well drawn and I was absolutely fascinated by its bareness. Just a few moons ago those branches were still heavy and green, shady and jaunty. I caught sight of a straw nest piled up the highest point of a tree. I wouldn’t have spotted it had the tree still been in its lush green dress. The abundance of colour and movement and sound in the warmer months softened those same sharp lines. I looked up and admired the architecture of all that was around me. Still, no words were found. Not on the ground or grass, not up in the trees or with the birds, not in the ponds or canals, and not least on that unbleeding page.
Not until now…
Despite my best intentions expressed to the Universe on December 2020, things took a different turn and I was stuck in behind a door. It was as if the door that leads either to the past or the future was firmly stuck and no foregone memories or impending aspirations were available to me. Last year was all about the now and here, within four solid walls and the odd glimpse to the outside world through the keyhole. With the new year here, accompanied by a great sense of hope renewed that follows us all through each annual leap, I feel I have in my hand a new set of keys to open that unyielding door and get writing, one word at a time.
I am nothing but hopefully for this new chapter ahead with a plain looking view ahead of me. Often I hear/read advice from several writers who say that you can’t edit a blank page and that done is better than perfect. If you’ve read this so far, you can see this page is not blank nor is it perfect but it’s done. Keep reading and I will keep writing. Welcome to 2022, the Rise of the Artist II.
“This is how you do it:
you sit down at the keyboard
and you put one word
after another until it’s done.
It’s that easy, and that hard.”