I saw an ad for a writing MFA, or the products of a writing MFA, claiming: “Fearless Writing!”
I was having an anxious day and I said to my husband, Mike, somewhat defensively: “I don’t want fearless writing. If there’s no fear in approaching the subject you’re writing on, whats the value in writing about it? Did the writers start off fearful and then erase it all out of the writing? I want fearful writing, or at least writing that acknowledges fear is part of the process, part of being a person. That’s my ad,” I said, “Fearful Writing!”
I’ve been having near-panic attacks this week, in part related to the Kavanaugh stuff dredging up memories and fears of sexual assault and harassment by people in positions of power. It happened to me in an art world context, a small gallery in London where I worked when I was younger.
“This week has re-traumatized so many of us” — a comment from artist Kate Stewart on Instagram, which validated so much of what I’m feeling and helped me feel connected to the women and people who are standing strong and fearing and falling apart this week.
It’s been really hard to do creative or thinky work this week because of those bodily memories, which feel more like animal anxiety than a fear that I can describe and place at this point. (In another voice, I might say that I am really feeling that painful point at which my often privileged position intersects the non-dominant positions, the scared positions.)
Mike gently nudged me today: it will help to do the things you care about—puzzling through Gertrude Stein, planting flowers, cooking, walking the dog even though you’re afraid to leave the house, doing the creative work that feels especially awful today because you were sexually assaulted by a man who said your art was good and then you stopped making art.
We can’t be fearless because that would be unrealistic right now. So we can create things through the fear, alongside the fear, like the women screaming and crying in the elevator doorway managed to create a pause, a deeper look.