The Brilliant Celeste Chan, who seems to always use Facebook to lift and cheer and empower, recently posted this image:
Which linked me back to a song that has gotten me through some dark times: Ramshackle Glory’s Song of the same title, with these lyrics:
Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist
Keep on loving, keep on fighting.
I am buying [pagan solstice presents] for friends and family and chosen family, and I am not ashamed that this year, they are mostly books. This year, I’m done with wall calendars, moisturizer, and pajamas. Pajamas are nice and all – pajamas might save your bits from frostbite – but a book might actually save a life.
Keep on loving. Keep on fighting.
These past weeks, whenever I’ve felt that incredible sadness and defeat and despair, I’ve turned to books. Not the newspaper. Books. Not therapy. Books. Not exercise. Books. I’m not saying that reading is a substitute for political action (but see the first chapters of Zizek’s Violence). I’m saying that consistently, a book is what’s gotten me from crying-shrimp-pose-in-bed to human-able-to-do-things like put my body at a protest or call my reps or teach or scoop the cat litter or be in community. And not even the books I bring on the bus because I want people to think I’m smart. And not even books everyone would file under the categories of currently “necessary” or “visionary” or “life changing.” I’m talking about picture books, fiction, love stories, fantasy, lesbian vampires. Ask me about how much I love Meg & Mog.
I read these books with love, but in secret. I read them like a drowning person clings to a life-raft, but in the dark because by now, I should know how to swim, or at least how to operate boating machinery. I read them in the closet, the bathroom, and under the covers. Just one more chapter. Just one more page. Oh but just the first paragraph of the next chapter, oh just one more.
Keep on loving. Keep on…?
And I feel this disconnect when I sit to write. Maybe you do too. This disconnect says that what I am writing can’t possibly be relevant. That there is no time to make things. That there is no time to write a novel, or at least no time to write even one sentence that does not reflect the sadness and weight and possibility of this moment.
It’s almost as if I need a Disney special to remind me/us where books – these books that save us – come from.
Where do books come from?
- The stork brings them;
- The big rock candy mountain.
- People write them.
It’s almost as if loving and fighting were different acts completely, as if they canceled each other out, as if one precluded the other. It’s as if the book you are trying so hard to both write and not write (because that’s how it feels to write sometimes) was not destined to save someone’s life just as much as the Meg & Mog book you are so desperately clutching is trying to save yours. And by you, I mean me.
“Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. … Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.” – Edwige Danticat, Create Dangerously
So this week, a reminder that we are also the creators of the things that are saving our lives.
If you need a place to come write, we got some for you. Write Your (****)Ing Novel BOOTCAMP is starting January 10th. Writing drop ins are happening Sundays and Mondays, check our calendar. There’s more on the horizon, keep in touch.
Keep on loving. Keep on fighting. Inhale. Exhale. Read. Write. Love. Be Loved.