By guest blogger Bob Sabatini
Here we are at the end of another March. How’s the writing been coming? You feel like you created something wonderful? How about your goals, did you meet those?
For myself, I hold my goal up against what I actually accomplished, and if I do that, I come to the conclusion that… well…
I wanted to write 31 dramatic monologues, and I’m stuck at 11. And I got writing of any kind done on fewer days than that. Easy thing to do would be to blame my job, I’ve put in several 12 hour days over the past couple weeks. But I would be lying if I said that I don’t have time to write. I do, the medium I set out to tackle is so short–less than a page, usually–and I am not striving for anything really polished, just rough first drafts. I mean, an hour at most if I hunker down, and I definitely have an hour of leisure time, even on the busiest days. I’m not going to say I’ve run out of ideas, either. What has proven much more difficult than I was expecting was finding the voices to speak for more than a few distinct speakers. So, while I had plenty to say about compassion, forgiveness and resistance, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was compiling a 31-installment gripe, which was not the direction I wanted to go with this project.
Except, that doesn’t seem to be the note I want to go out on, the kind of judgment I want to pass on myself or anyone else who set a goal and didn’t make it. So,
no I don’t suck, and neither do you!
I have eleven pieces I didn’t have on March 1. Seven of them I’m not just happy with but am damn proud of. It’s not 31, but it’s more than zero. And ultimately, this is the message I want to go out with at the end of the month. If you smashed through all your goals, wrote the 50,000 words you wanted or the complete book of poems, or even if you really just sat down for an hour each day and actually wrote during that time, good for you. If you didn’t… good for you anyways for making the effort.
In sunnier times, I’ll look on the failure to meet some writing goal (a business model for improved productivity) as something I can afford to get down on myself for. But not when we’re weathering a storm. Under the deluge of the current administration, if I can produce a single life preserver to buoy and lighten the spirits of another person, to make them feel less alone or less persecuted, I have achieved something to be proud of. I keep going back to a different excerpt from the same video Sam plugged a few days ago, the commencement speech given by Neil Gaiman. “When things get tough, this is what you should do: make great art.” I don’t see that necessarily meaning to churn it out relentlessly.
These are very trying times, and those in power have been unleashing a torrent of negativity in too many areas of civic and cultural life to even begin to enumerate here. Art is how we fight back. When the powerful are insistent on churning out ugliness, the beauty of our words, our paintings, our songs, and our prayers have the power to heal. I think they know that too, or else why would they be so intent on killing public funding for the arts even though it’s such a minuscule part of the budget? Well, that’s the great thing about writing, our supplies are dirt cheap.
One of the trends I have been following on social media and when I go to events like the Women’s March has been a flowering of folk art—quirky signs and tee shirts, beautifully raw yet sincere poetry, videos, and thousands of expressions of love in many types of media—all by people not trained as artists. We all serve to support and uplift one another, and though the burden may be great, there are many many kind souls helping to shoulder it. No need for anyone to beat themself up because they didn’t do “enough.” Do what you can, make the art as great as you are capable of, and of course continue to strive for the improvement of your craft. But whatever you do, don’t give up.