I found the reminders below from summer 2016, written before the world changed and changed and changed again. Are these still my commitments as a writer? What is different, new? What can I lean into more? What can I reexamine?
(This is self-inquiry -- you can answer in the comments but the questions are really for me.)
What are your commitments? (This you can definitely answer.)
In my writing,
I'm committed to aiming for big global topics and intimate, human connection.
To cultivating empathy and discovering how to open up my own vulnerable truth in order to allow that from others. My audience, my collaborators.
I'm committed to creating in a way that speaks to the silent and opens up a platform to allow the disenfranchised to speak. That offers opportunity for the empowered to listen.
I'm committed to using my points of privilege and my experience as ways to advocate for others, for the outsiders, minorities, for targeted groups.
I'm committed to listening more/deeper to the stories I intend to represent or leave space for others to represent.
I'm committed to reaching higher every time,
paying specific attention to the needs of each project.
In my process, I'm committed to write every day, whatever that means.
I'm committed to spending good time on one thing at a time, one pursuit, one project. When my focus isn't split, I feel better, the work goes better.
I'm committed to taking my time.
I'm committed to making the change I want to see in the world through what I write and how.
I'm committed to self care, to kindness.
To moving/loving my body. To taking walks and baths. And naps.
To waiting. Not-doing. Un-doing. Wandering. Meditation.
I'm committed to being a playwright first but continuing my exploration of
poetry, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, screenwriting, writing for radio, even television.
I'm committed to free falling.
I am a person who can go deeply into a thing.
I don't scan the surface, though I have a broad range of interests and abilities.
I know where I want to focus, where I intend my attention with intention.
I'm committed to being committed to my art. To going big. Turning pro.
To learning and teaching and doing.
To speaking truth and each time trying to get truer, more specific, more scary.
I'm committed to learning how to say the hard thing well, to working with difficult material and making each story more global, more intimate.
I'm committed to getting really exact and personal in my work
so that I can speak what happened to me
and what I deal with in my brain,
so I can reckon with it by sharing,
and so that others may be more willing to open, share and be human together.
I've written and made art for survival.
And look here now I've survived I'm surviving.
How do I take that privilege and turn it into change?
What do I do in my art to respond, to quake, to bellow?
How do I stay strong, vigilant, healthy, mentally and physically--
and be a lookout, a safe keeper, be kind with big heart
and help care for the oppressed and the silenced?
Been in the midst of a big rabbit hole project this year I never anticipated with this cycle of centuries. What is a century? Most basically, a list.
This collection of lists is becoming a novella of a book, a shadow box, a podcast. Learn more about the process through the MFA at CIIS Artifact Podcast where this month they devoted an episode to my process completing this series and trying to represent that visually with a shadow box.
This weekend on Sunday (May 1) at MING Studios in Boise, I'll be reading from this series for the first time. If you're in Boise and want to hear, I will begin at 7pm through MING Studio's 7o'clock series. Sometimes they lock the doors right at 7, so get there on time :) It's $7 if you're not a member (and if you're an artist, you can be a member for $13 a year!). A lot of the stuff will be raw and vulnerable, freshly typed, so friendly faces please, for this work-in-progress reading. Thank you!
Maybe I'll see you there. If not, you can check out some of my process below and the podcast to learn more.
Alone time: scale rocks, run impossible sprints.
Write with all my senses, limbs.
With my own pace, clock, rhythm. Trust that.
Spend weeks, months, years lying in wait, envisioning my next feast from my cave.
Then it's time to act, to launch rocket in belly.
The taste of my craving. Locking sight on her there.
Embrace, attach, drag my target up cliff face to a spot safe from vultures, jackals.
Dream my next fierce outcome.
In silence, listen to the orchestra around us in this mountain land.
Tiptoe, keep clean, everything arranged as I like. Or I get ruffled.
Always watching, preparing the next big leap.
Waiting with whole-bodied attention.
Inside I growl and bellow -- and sometimes outside. Mostly I seem calm.
Hiding in splendor home, creating bizarre fantasies about all of you.
Examining differences between the world and me, measuring the limits.
Happy. New. Year. (The more we say it, the more it's true?)
As challenging times continue for many/all(?) of us, I'm finding it even more important to reflect on wins, losses, missed opportunities and new connections. There are a lot more highlights than I expected from 2021 -- maybe if you look back, you'll find the same? I hope so. Here are some from my end:
I did make progress on my 2021/2022 goals, but I notice my goals for the next two years do look similar to last year's (and the year before). As Andrew Simonet encourages, I'm trying to think more in terms of decades now, rather than years or days, so that's okay. Progress is progress. These are big goals for me. These days still aren't usual. I'm grateful to be healthy, have work, have a home to live in, be able to afford groceries, rent, bills and small luxuries, and be *relatively* mentally stable.
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
As I've found it challenging to make bold steps in these days of continued uncertainty, finding myself occasionally paralyzed by the unknowns aided by past trauma festering in my ribs, I want to make this a year of more bravery, more stepping forward into what I know I need, letting go of what no longer serves me, more courageous joy, more openhearted rejuvenation, more grounding reflection. May 2022 be my year of claiming space for what I know I need.
Thanks to those of you who shared your thoughts about my 500-word artist statement in process. Below is the 250-word version. They'll both live in the "About" section of my website shortly. Feel free to again share observations, what feels like the strongest pieces of language, how it makes you see/invites you into my work and questions, if you like. Regardless, thanks for taking an early glimpse.
As a playwright and writer across disciplines, I study the distance between us, seeking connection across differences.
Writing teaches me to trust my brain and get present in my body, two things I once thought impossible. I mine monsters that plagued me through child-and-early-adulthood (and still chase me down), amplifying them to mythic metaphors in locations loaded with personal history, so I can grapple with my mind as a human who lives in an absurd world, just like you. By revealing my most vulnerable secrets, I hope we can see each other more clearly.
In my work, tactile language, playful contradictions, kinetic imagery and haunted landscapes bridge spaces between words, between universes, between you and me. I uncover how my disorders, scars, terrors, regrets, curiosities, heartbeats, delights and wonders link with yours, the earth’s and the cosmos’. I cook our rawest parts together in hot lava stew.
By physicalizing my most difficult moments and mashing them with yours, along with surprising bursts of dazzling beauty and mystical forces, I hope laughter and meet-cute swoons can bubble alongside the brutality of reality. I want us to take more time to pay attention with intention, to see that the shadows inside us we can’t bear to acknowledge also overwhelm the stranger next to us, those too far away to comprehend, nonhuman persons and unrecognizable entities – and that we share intoxicating joys, dreams, desires, too.
Without shame, we can unveil, heal and embrace our weightiest, wildest places for love of interdependence between everything.
Hello! I'm working on updating my artist statement. Below is a draft of the full 500-word version (that I can cut down as needed for various applications, but would live on this website along with a 250-word version). If you want, feel free to share your first impressions, using the following questions as guideposts:
What is the strongest language -- words/phrases that linger with you?
After reading the statement, is it clear what kind of art I make?
Is it clear why I do it? Why (I hope) it matters in the world? And how I do it?
Does it make you want to see my work?
If you already know my work (a bit or a lot), does it sound like what I make, or more aspirational, something I'm reaching for but doesn't quite fit yet?
Thank you for reading and any help you'd like to give! Observations and questions are welcome, prescriptions less so. No troll remarks needed, either :)
As a playwright and writer across disciplines, I examine the gaps dividing genres, people, perspectives and my own disjointed fragments. Studying the distance between us, I seek connection across differences. I write what terrifies me, juxtaposing the rough and the funny, the silken and sharp, the gorgeous and grotesque to catch a glimpse at what it means to exist on this planet.
Writing teaches me to trust my brain and get present in my body, two things I once thought impossible for me. Swimming through memories I can't believe happened, I mine monsters that plagued me through child-and-early-adulthood (and still chase me down), amplifying them to mythic metaphors in locations loaded with personal history, so I can grapple with my mind as a human who lives in an absurd world, just like you. By revealing my most vulnerable secrets, I hope we can see each other more clearly.
Sensory details spark mirror neurons that unite nervous systems. In my work, tactile language, playful contradictions, kinetic imagery and haunted landscapes bridge spaces between words, between universes, between you and me. As I exorcise my past, my peripheral vision widens. Disparate pathways coalesce. Through searching research, conversations, surveys and letters shared with me, I uncover how my disorders, scars, terrors, regrets, curiosities, heartbeats, delights and wonders link with yours, the earth’s and the cosmos’. I pour together collected stories, observations and devised collaborations in hot lava stew, cooking our rawest parts together. Cathartic release brings breath.
My play see in the dark: a new myth churns a recurring nightmare from my adolescence with our fears of the other and climate disaster. In a future Juneau, Alaska when all the glaciers have melted, the ice fields have vanished and nothing is recognizable, an isolated community of mutant outsiders must decide what to do with a newcomer: the young girl with a great power that threatens to destroy their village and everyone in it. This play collides environmental collapse, collectivism, poetry, a genocidal shadow beast, radical love and the value of compassion over suspicion.
By physicalizing my most difficult moments and mashing them with yours, along with surprising bursts of dazzling beauty flooding with waterfalls, oceans and mystical forces, I hope laughter and meet-cute swoons can bubble alongside the heartbreaking brutality of reality. It's hard being alive today. I want us to take more time to pay attention with intention, to see that the things inside us we can’t bear to acknowledge also overwhelm the stranger next to us, those too far away to comprehend, nonhuman persons and unrecognizable entities – and that we share intoxicating joys, dreams, desires, too. I want us to take stock of our hidden monstrosities. Without shame, we can unveil, heal and embrace our weightiest, wildest places for love of interdependence between everything. What if we held unconditional friendliness toward all citizens of the multiverse, ourselves included? I want to hold out a hand and sit with you through your struggle.
Together we can get through this thing called life.
dig the garden
push into heat
tick tick tick at keys
one idea, another
rake past garbage
writing is composting
churning one thought, another
spidery grasses, tough weeds
sew hope, prune sentences, enrich soil
all the waiting
daily in the dirt
vigils on chair, by seedlings
fight critics, aphids, slugs
sometimes the sun
sometimes a frost
and everything wastes
50 pages pumped
but the harvest
after mind numbing stuck
to make something of this land
is it even fertile?
the chance of leaves, blooms, a whole tomato
a feast, a draft
a completed work
something to dream on
to return for
tick tick tick
What a year. What a beginning to 2021...I hope you're safe, healthy and pressing on with all the sanity you can muster. All my best to you and yours right now.
With all the losses and challenges, I'm fortunate that I can look back on some highlights from 2020. Amidst everything, good things happened. Here are a few from my end.
I was about to list some of my losses, but looking back, most of these were related to travel, lost work and household income (aided by grants received), exciting projects put off and important personal events pushed back (like a wedding). I'm extremely fortunate to be healthy, that my family and partner are well and safe, to have a job and a home. I didn't lose close friends or family this year to illness (though it came close) or the violence that came to so many across this country and globe. I'm incredibly privileged, lucky and grateful.
Because most of my 2020/2021 goals were made less possible in COVID times, with hopeful optimism (and perhaps naïve delusion) I'm bringing a couple of them back for 2021 and 2022:
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
I'm falling in love with my process again, the less I try to fill every minute.
I time travel when I read the past.
I see into my then skin, compare it with now.
I learn about where my brain was and where it is.
I've learned that the practice of writing takes time. A long time.
That having patience and cultivating love
for the act of writing is the thing that leads to authentic depth
and realization of voice that can't be forced.
I've learned there is deep value in waiting.
There is no one way to tell a story, to structure a play.
The act of writing daily helps me know how to move my hand
through a story, an idea, a play or a thought
much more than if I wait between projects.
I've learned I have something to say.
I am an adventure.
I work hard.
I can miss things, skip things and the world carries on.
I can fail in big and small ways, that's how I learn.
For me, writing is not about seeking expertise but discovery, opening, humanity.
Vulnerability is the gateway to connection.
Everyone has a creative voice to unlock.
Listening is a difficult art that requires great patience
and ability to resist interrupting, speaking, offering advice.
I've learned that I love to use giant weather-based catastrophes in my work,
often representing some big world or personal event.
I've learned that the personal is political.
That my tendency to assume factors about people and situations
is a habit that I must continue to break.
That as a white person I have extreme advantage that is unfair,
but I can use that agency to open up space for the targeted.
I've learned that we can make something beautiful together through art,
and that I love collaborations even though they are difficult.
I've learned that writing is hard and I will always do it.
I can work in a way that I guide the process and the process guides me.
My work helps me stay grounded.
Writing teaches me how to live, how to listen, how to be.
I take time with it. There is no rush.
My work goes against values I dispute --
commercialism, capitalism, unchecked patriotism.
It challenges me.
I can continue all my life and there will always be more to learn.
There isn't a wrong but I will never get it exactly right.
Not about right and wrong.
Writing teaches me what I think.
Shows me what I know.
Brings out memories that don't surface otherwise.
My work gets braver and more specific.
Is beginning to reach more globally, into dangerous territory.
Is starting to connect with audiences and collaborators in authentic ways.
Becoming more about--
That knocked me off guard. That unsettled me. That spoke to me directly.
My work doesn't define me but is a primal factor in who I am.
Me as writer, as playwright, as artist, ingrained into my DNA.
I no longer have to prove --
hey look at me
I write I'm a writer not just prop master or stage hand or sick person,
not that there's anything wrong with that.
But this ink is the air I breathe.
Getting more confident with my experiments, more courageous and bold.
Coming into my true voice that resonates with the young writer me,
what I tried to be/make/sound like.
I still feel very young. Like I know nothing.
But I know something.
And I learn more every day.
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Process notes on a work in progress (me). This mostly contains raw rough content pulled out of practice notebooks. Occasional posts also invite you into the way I work, with intermittent notes on the hows and whys on the whats I make. Less often you may also find prompts and processes I've brought to workshops, as well as surveys that help me gather material for projects. Similar earlier posts from years ago can be found on: