Fracturing the Narrative

Holding Space by Beverly Naidus, digital photocollage, size variable, 2022

I’ve been working on a book since I left my academic position in 2020. This project has been morphing from a long essay about the ways that creative energy and imagination can move us through this threshold time into a future where we all can thrive, to a hybrid memoir that includes pieces of fable or speculative fiction that create a braided rhythm within the narrative. The book will highlight stories from artists, activists, and collectives who are defying the backlash of this time by gestating the beneficial bacteria that will move us into the next chapter. Mostly the book is about how to process the traumas we carry with ancestral tools and creative magic to build something that we haven’t yet imagined.

Ever since Lucy R. Lippard published The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society (1997), I’ve been fascinated by the ability to break genres apart in unexpected ways, and I’ve experimented with this inventive style in some of my published essays like “So You Want to Be an Eco-Artist: Lessons in Grief and Gratitude,” Elemental: An Arts and Ecology Reader, edited by James Brady, England, Gaia Project, 2016. https://www.academia.edu/12265018/So_You_Want_to_Be_an_Eco_artist_Lessons_in_Grief_and_Gratitude. I found that this way of writing, fracturing the narrative, was liberatory and I’ve been doing it ever since. Subverting the standard seems to be my way of moving in the world. It is more in alignment with my brain’s wiring. The latter can be flighty or scattered at times, as well as a bit greedy to absorb two or three things at once. I can imagine that there are more linear-minded folks who would find this kind of hybridity exasperating. I am not writing for them obviously.

I think of myself as an untrained writer, since I never took rhetoric & grammar in school (not that the study of the latter is necessarily useful to a writer). I have learned most of what I know about writing from practicing, reading of books that move me, and from helpful, better educated friends who have edited my less well-crafted efforts. Much of what I have learned about writing and art making is to get out my own way. Last week, I heard the author, Deena Metzger, say something similar on a zoom – she makes herself receptive to what is being transmitted to her. Similarly, my words come from intuitive messages I receive in the present moment, phrases that wake me up in the morning before I realize where I am, images that alert me in my dream time. I always create better when I am able to quiet my ego’s voice; the part of me that is so eager to make something profound or beautiful that I trip on my own intentions.

I want to encourage others to allow to find their voices using this particular kind of receptivity, stepping out of their own ways and to lean into the collective consciousness that can offer them unexpected treasures and necessary tools. To that end, my working title for this new book is “Rewilding Our Muses: Creative Strategies for Navigating the End of THIS World.”

Despite what I am carrying as the partner of someone in the midst of chemo treatment and the mother of someone trying to launch in the midst of his difficult journey with mental health, this writing is an essential part of my self care, so that the overwhelm that is a big part of this time in the world, can be narrowed down to “present moment, wonderful moment.” And, at the same time, the writing allows me to see a bigger picture of interlocking patterns and layers of deep time, something that seems to be the harvest of all my inner work. We will see. The discipline of sitting here and allowing the flow to take me wherever it needs to will eventually get the book done. I am grateful for this privilege.

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