I Want to Make Art, Not Cry with Potato Chips

Picture 89by Molly Bond (’15)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

My writing practice generally consists of deadlines and feelings. Because I am a creative writing student, I write the majority of my pieces as an assignment, which tends to be more difficult because given prompts do not always provide the inspiration necessary to write what I consider to be a “successful” piece. Sometimes, though, a prompt will awaken a feeling inside me, and I find the writing to be easy and fruitful, similar to the way I write on my own, when I am free of deadlines and prompts.

Independent writing only takes place when I already have an inspiration. In this way, it is easier to begin writing, but because there is no deadline, I find it harder to finish the piece. Naturally, assignments are a higher priority to me, because grades are constantly on my mind—so my independent writing suffers from procrastination and many of my non-assignment pieces are unfinished. When I do finish these self-motivated pieces, however, I am almost always happier with the result because there is a definite “feeling” in the writing, because I wrote it with inspiration, not with the stress of a due date.

Strangely, my most “successful” pieces have been written in very short amounts of time. My favorite poem was written in under fifteen minutes, although it is three pages long. I suspect this is because my writing is so centered in emotion that in order to express the piece, I need to use a stream-of-consciousness method which can only come with speed and a lack of self-censorship. My worst pieces are generally those that I have needed to edit countless times, sometimes completely overthrowing the plot or changing a character’s motivations entirely, trying desperately to get it to work. It is the effortlessness of the pieces that make them successful.

Process aside, what I truly want to make is writing that makes other people want to write. I believe that art is a self-perpetuating medium; good art causes inspiration, which causes more art to be created. If a piece of mine were to cause inspiration in another artist, and the inspired artist’s work caused inspiration in yet another artist, I would be the instigator of a never-ending art cycle, and how cool is that? Not many people would disagree with me that art is extremely powerful, and extremely important. It connects directly to people’s emotions, and emotions are generally what decisions are based off of. This is why art has changed the world. This is why I want to create art, both directly and indirectly.

My biggest obstacles by far are self-hatred, guilt, and self-censorship—and to a lesser extent, teenage laziness. In order to write something that actually expresses what I am feeling, I need to allow myself to actually feel it, without compulsively back-spacing every time I think I’ve made a cliché. This goes hand-in-hand with guilt, because every time I fail at writing a piece, I feel guilty that I have failed myself, and hate myself for my lack of talent. At this point, on the verge of tears and having accomplished nothing, the inevitable “screw this” pops into my head and I go and eat potato chips while crying over the fact that I don’t write like E.E. Cummings. Thankfully, though, that insatiable urge to write will inevitably wash over me again, and through trial-and-error I will eventually manage to crank out a piece of writing I find tolerable.

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