On Obsession.

“Cuando llegue la inspiración, que me encuentre trabajando” – Pablo Picasso

  1. We are wandering the exhibition on Impressionists in London at the Tate Britain. I am captivated by the small information card posted on the wall, probably for the first time. It is next to a Monet, one in the Houses of Parliament series. It says Monet would wake up every morning and paint. That he negotiated being able to paint from the roof of St. Thomas Hospital for the best view. I imagine Claude Monet waking up in his hotel room every morning, with nothing more on his mind than the shape and form of the Palace of Westminster. I look at his painting of Leicester Square, the splashes of violent red. I observe his regret at not having had a chance to sketch Queen Victoria’s funeral procession. The brushstrokes are in his eyes. I think, and try to believe that narrative is in mine. Everything I see is a story. Then, why do I not sit down every day and write? Oh, we have the excuses. I think of Monet in his comfortable Savoy room, waking up and having the luxury of nothing more in his mind than painting.
  2. I think of Sylvia Plath. It might be best to not think of Sylvia Plath. Such stamina, to wake up each morning before your children, to write. To sweat it out. I don’t want to be Sylvia Plath. Think then, of Toni Morrison, who continued writing, around her child’s vomit, babe in the crook of her arm. I am not as strong as Toni Morrison. But it’s a thought that is captivating, this stamina.
  3. When I ran the first time, I couldn’t make it to the end of the street. There was nothing superhuman about my transformation, I am just a stubborn creature. One morning the loops connected and I kept running and I never stopped, and I can’t imagine life without it. I sit at the computer and everything must be perfect. I must be in the right frame of mind. The right time of day. The right spark. The silence. Isn’t all this precious thinking simply fear? Yes. I am afraid. It’s about being too big for someone to pat my head, I am sure of it.
  4. I wish I had the ghost of Gertrude Stein. It’s a temptation to think of her played by Kathy Bates, but no, I want Gertrude Stein. She could have followed me from Père Lachaise and travelled in my suitcase. I want her as painted by Picasso, the complete control of her own image, as herself. Except I know what Gertrude Stein would tell me. Gertrude Stein would tell me to shut up and write.
  5. I think of Picasso’s fevered year of wonders. Pollock’s floor. Frida Kahlo’s feet. I think of Murakami running. Patti Smith’s piss. Emile Tepperman writing so furiously the typewriter escaped him and he followed it. Kirby hunched over the drawing board birthing the cosmos. Pratchett racing against Death.
  6. I think of fear. Lauryn Hill’s toes at the borders of the recording studio. Salinger chasing yoga and Scientology. I think of Harper Lee in the nursing home wondering, ‘what if?’.
  7. There are about fifty books in our hallway. I have felt them on my back, distracting me, teasing me, and I will probably never read them anyway. They have to go. This vanity of possession, it blocks the mind, no? It’s easy to factor in a rant about apps, about television, about social media and likes but it’s all true, they’re all thieves of time.
  8. To wake up and think, I must write, and I wrote, and I did, and for that, I feel better and we can take it from here because now I have content, and I can’t go on the train without a ticket. It’s a start.

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