Damn, Africa. What happened?

The title of this post is inspired by Lindsay Lohan’s latest fucking debacle brilliant PR move. One that I can freely laugh at. Crotch-shots of a drunk girl are always creepy, but this bullshit? Girl, you done brought it on yourself.

Some time ago, someone I consider a good friend told me that he’s glad that I’m not like every other young woman who’s involved in theater (I just banged out the first draft of my second play, for anyone keeping track). And I said something like, “but of course. I am a unique and special flower. One that only grows on the fields of righteousness. And good behaviour.”

Who the hell I was kidding with all that, I don’t even know.

I think all of us want to think of ourselves as good. Or, at the very least, special. “I’m not like all the other girls that you used to know,” or so Shirley Manson sang. Only it’s not true. The girls are like the other girls. The boys are like the other boys.

I resent the implication that creative people have more of a right to be bad, to be inconsiderate, indiscriminate, morally suspect, and so on. As I wrote last year, saying that “writers have reckless hearts” is just as silly as saying that “plumbers have reckless hearts.” And I still believe in that.

But I am glad and willing to eat crow when it comes to the difficulty of being an artist. I don’t think I began to appreciate that until late last year. Late last year, was when things began “clicking” for me work-wise, and I suddenly realized – holy crap, I am scooping out huge bloody chunks of myself in the process.

Among the things I’ve been doing, plays have been most prominent so far. I recently sat down and read my second play out loud to my brother, and afterwards, I couldn’t calm down. I know all about it, when actors talk about “going to that dark place,” but I only really began taking this seriously when Heath Ledger died. I feel it inside of myself now – this dark place. It’s beautifully carved out. But it exhausting. And it hurts.

When I was 18, I discovered the radical concept of “being outside oneself.” It’s not like I hadn’t tried it before, but I was told, in no uncertain terms, that there is a reason why people similar to me regularly hit the bottle, for example. When everything you encounter in life is a possible plot point, you need to be able to throw a switch in your brain, and feel stupid for a while.

I think the desire to be outside yourself, combined with having to go to dark places via one’s imagination, is one of the reasons why we excuse writers and artists so much more. Well, that and the fact that writers and artists tend to be brilliant self-justifiers, of course. If you’re eloquent, you defend yourself eloquently. And people listen.

Why am I saying all of this? Hm. For posterity’s sake, maybe?

Or maybe I’m just saying this because I am grateful for the friendship of the individual who mistakenly believed me to be better than I really am. He didn’t withdraw it, you see. And maybe that’s what matters the most – not glamour, not noble artistic suffering, not characters that rattle their chains like ghosts in the basements of your brain – but just people who take you for who you are, at the end of the day.

Also, after publishing pieces such as Sarah Jaffe’s “art as labour” story, I just wanted to reiterate one of her points: writers don’t subsist on rose petals. And we are just like everybody else. Not worse. Not better. I don’t want to be held to a low standard. But, at the end of the day, someone else’s high standards don’t interest me either. I am who I am.

5 thoughts on “Damn, Africa. What happened?

  1. natalia – how very mysterious of you to post all of this. what did you do? rob an orphanage?

  2. Girl, with all the crap you’ve been through lately. Just let yourself live a little.

    You’re a good person. You’re also young n pretty. Enjoy it, and enjoy writing your plays.

    And enjoy making men stupid while you’re doing it.

  3. Didn’t hear a word you said. That picture of Lohan was much too distracting. Now I”m in love with her. Damn it.

    🙂

    Ok seriously: there’s a lot in your blog today. One thing that stands out (because I relate) is the writer thing. Ideas and thoughts float around and just won’t stand still for a moment so you just have to sit down and write about them before they move on, leaving you to wonder later on what became of them. (Hmm. In reading this I’m not sure I’m making sense. Ah well.) Maybe writers and artists in general are more prone to ADD. And, despite the dark places in your mind, it’s still pretty much a joy isn’t it?

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