When I started writing my spoken word poetry collection earlier this year, I had this constant nagging feeling that due to everything going on it wasn’t the right time to finish it, because it didn’t seem important enough.
It was about heartbreak which, compared to everything else that was going on in the world then and now...like, doesn’t even seem like it should be in the top #10 of things we should be worrying about in our society and lives right now. Poverty. War. Modern slavery. Racism. Ridiculous laws being brought into our world by greed every single day. How would a spoken word album about heartbreak help anyone?
Why create a spoken word album when all of this was happening and was so much more important?
Why create a spoken word album when speaking on political subjects instead might help someone more?
I tried to Google my pain to see if anyone else could relate, or to see if Google would have some kind of magical measuring stick or perfect timeline for when I would finally feel okay about creating fictional works again without feeling guilty about it.
I typed in, “Is my work important enough?” which, as smart as Google is, it had no answer for.
I guess what I was looking for was permission to complete it.
As a black, female, and member of the LGBT community there’s almost always something that seems more important than fictional works. Something to protest, something I can be angry about if I want to be. There are countless injustices happening; and so many people, voiceless, dis-empowered and suffering. But there comes a time where you realise that you can’t always carry all of this pain on our shoulders all the time, because frankly it is exhausting.
Creating art that is serious and political all the time would put me and my art into a box that I don’t particularly want to be in; contributing to a stereotype of an “angry black woman” in a way that most people tune out unless it’s presented to them differently these days.
So what I realised was that yes, there were more important things I could be protest about or champion or fight for in that moment - but to even have the energy to take on those battles, you sometimes have to create for yourself first; create things that light your soul up, that make you happy, or you’ll burn out from all the stress (and that helps no one).
It’s okay to create something even if the only reason you have to do it is because your heart tells you to. This is how you will open up your greatest revelations.
You don’t know how “important” your work might become until you do it.
Heartbreak might not seem all that important to write about in relation to other issues that were going on at the time in the world. Not even in the top #10. But to someone who is going through it right now - it is #1 the most important issue in the world. And that’s okay. I would never go up to someone and minimise their pain, or compare it to other issues I believed were more important...so I have vowed not to do that to myself, or my art.
I recognise now that importance is a subjective concept, and there is room for it all. I also recognised that:
“Not important enough” is simply another translation of the fear of actually creating something - the fear of wasting time and failing.
Who knows where it could take you though if just this one time you ignored the fears that prevent you from trying and actually completed it?
Your work only has the potential to be worth anything if you actually make it.
Everything you love today was once nothing but a doubtful idea in the mind of a neurotic creator. And it is often the things artists throw together in passion or frustration that turn out to become their most popular pieces, treasured and loved by their fans.
It’s not your duty to analyse the thing you’re being told to create by the Universe. Ridiculous or serious, fiction or non, art is a bold statement in the world about your personal freedom, about the way you are choosing to express yourself, and your power to speak out.
So, this is me, giving you permission to create the art you want.
Your latest work might be the single piece of work that changes your life.
You literally, simply don’t know...but this is your permission to try.Read More