OK, last post on “decolonizing” the creative space, and then I’m off to AAAS.
I’ve been writing about the workshop space, the MFA curriculum, the publishing industry. I need to move away from those things, and reiterate some things about writing process. There is the stereotypical image of the lone writer, languishing away at her desk. She is isolated from her community, not because she has no community, but because the work of writing can only be done by her. There is only so much reading and studying, pushing and pulling, community workshopping, inspirational meme-ing, procrastinating that can be done. Bottom line is this: only the writer can write her book.
So that’s my reality. Sitting at my computer, banging out the thing. Deleting and rewriting the thing. Editing the thing. Tinkering with the thing. Is “decolonizing” this space possible? Or, more specifically, “decolonizing” this mental and intellectual space.
Being a solo writer is a contradiction in the Filipino American community, or at least in my corner of the Filipino American community, where everything feels like it must be done via consensus and collaboration in order to earn community value. Being a solo writer in this context can be seen as self-serving, selfish, individually driven.
Well, being individually driven is necessary (see above: only the writer can write her book).
My experience has shown me that no matter how much shouting out the community for support and inspiration you do, no matter how much concrete support you actually have and publicly acknowledge, you must still be individually driven, and this is viewed as self-serving.
Some strategies I’ve tried, in order to mitigate those perceptions of being self-serving: In addition to all my community work with PAWA, let me back to all my previous blog posts on my writing projects. On asking, rather than dictating, issuing edicts. This kind of work has made me think more and more critically about my poetic speakers — Who are they? What am I doing with their narratives? How am I telling their stories? How do I do this, without falling into appropriation? Is that even possible? Is all writing from POVs not my own, all appropriation?
Well, these are hard questions, but I cannot also allow these to paralyze me and stop up my output. I have to write. Talking and talking and talking and thinking and thinking about writing is not really writing, after all.
I think then, about poetic strategies, poetic forms. Are there poetic forms that can contain or convey my concerns? I can’t tell you that I have an answer to this. Everything I write ends up going through these processes and experiments. The text is my lab; languages, forms, the line, and every possible poetic device I can think of are my elements and materials to employ. Can these be decolonized? Or more to the point: how may use of these, or the poetic decision making process be decolonized. So this is where I’m at this morning.