Yesterday, I craved to write. A drought of days where I had not written a word had kept me awake at night for four days. Frustratingly, when a surge of words rumbled to my consciousness, I was either too busy prioritising other people’s needs or, on rare occasion, either floating in the bath or driving–both settings not conducive for tapping on a keyboard. Then last night, this stunning Chagall painting (The Blue Circus) popped up in my photos, along with a quote from the painter:
My hands were too soft…I had to find some special occupation, some kind of work that would not force me to turn away from the sky and the stars, that would allow me to discover the meaning of life.
At risk of hurtling over the wall into sentimentality, Chagall’s words broke through the writing barrier that had contained my creativity since last Friday. Understand this: far from bigging up my ego to the size of a buffalo, I confess that my writing is a slow-burn at the moment. My projects are diverse: two fiction manuscripts, a screenplay idea I am tweaking, a thickening compilation of short-stories ready to print and a pushed-to-capacity external hard-drive packed with ideas begging me to develop them to publication. Too many projects distracting me from mastering just one.
‘There is not enough time in the day!’ I shout at files in my laptop. My head often feels dizzy. It would be easier if I had not made the decision to write full-time; instead, be a casual writer, scribbling Haikus on beermats and banging out flash-fiction when a spare fifteen minutes cleared in my diary.
But I am on the cusp. I feel it. I felt it strongly last night when staring at Chagall’s upside-down woman painted brazenly red, the yellow moon aside her with violin, the green goat against vibrant blues in a chaotic masterpiece. Some days my life is a chaotic masterpiece. My writing is a chaotic masterpiece. It is a circus. Chagall said:
For me a circus is a magic show that appears and disappears like a world.
So, today I begin to write again. Mundanely and monotonously, I was brushing my teeth this morning when a breakthrough idea about the protagonist in my novel burst in my head. I recognised that fluttering of excitement in belly, that urgency to transfer the idea from grey matter to grey MacBook before it evaporated. I strode with vengeance to computer. An hour later, I am here and my protagonist, Billie, has enjoyed a romp at The Metropolitan Museum of Art within the confines of a 3,000-word chapter. Apparently the answer for Billie was that I as starving her of art, so I delivered my main character to The Met where she, too, can stare at the beauty of Chagall.
With this new chapter added to my manuscript this morning, returning to my blog felt the next step. I sit here, ruminating over the supremely expressive Chagall, his paintings and his words again: ‘…some kind of work that would not force me to turn away from the sky and the stars, that would allow me to discover the meaning of life.’
I may not have discovered the meaning of life today but, damn it, I sit here on the cusp of creating a world of beauty for my life in words.