an essay on creativity and writing // 4 years of another visual diary <3
today is another birthday of another visual diary. since nearly half a decade (sounds impressive… ummm) i am writing this diary. wow. a big thank you to you readers from (nearly) all over the world! and also to all these wonderful people in my life who support and inspire me in so many different ways ❤ there are many more places, experiences, feelings and thoughts i want to share with you. actually there are hundreds of pictures waiting on my harddrive. even though my life is pretty busy (as usual) i will post more often in 2015. i will also continue to write zines and i happily send them to where ever you are located. to celebrate this jubilee i want to share a text from my zine MOMO 4 with you which is about creativity, my writing experiences and sharing personal experiences and thoughts via zine writing. i hope you will enjoy reading it.
all the best. take care. stay rebel.
— On Creativity and Writing.
travelling is not only a state of being it is also a state of mind which gives me the freedom to do nothing which is considered to be useful, productive or whatsoever. i am usually preoccupied in my thoughts/feelings/moods while listening to the endless same songs which i always forget to replace. today i want to write down some thoughts. i have so many of them on my mind. as soon as i decide to write a new zine or text they usually come like a shower of rain and i am never fast enough to write them all down.
just a few weeks ago i realized that my heart beats so strongly for communication and exchange! i write all these zines, blog entries, organize events and do workshops because i want to communicate with others/you. i want to exchange thoughts/feelings/observations. and moreover i want to create rooms where people feel good about themselves and where they start to interact with each other. there are so many things we need to speak about. there are so many stories that should be shared, that need to be told. when i do zine workshops i always try to pass on this overwhelming feeling of sharing something personal. we are told so often that our stories do not matter. but that is simply a lie. our stories are worth being told. i find it so major empowering to share experiences. also the painful ones.
for me the feeling of isolation was so hard to bare. when i was a teenager/young adult i felt like nobody could ever understand the weight i carried within me and how bewildered i felt so often. but one safe place remained through all these dark hours: letters. lines. pages. books.
some of the were filled by me – now resting in a suitcase on my bookshelf. when i reread these often confused and desperate pages i fell a lot of empathy for my younger self as well as luck that i am in a different place/state of mind now. and then there were all these other books. while writing these lines i am placed in front of them. resting on a red velvet pillow in good company of candles, tea, music and the darkness of the night. oh – it sounds like i am such a pathetic writer. but this is not about performing artistry, it is about me using the silence of an evening on my own to write.
it feels good to let my looks slide over the backs of all these books. i love their weight, how the paper feels like and most of all what they can teach me and how i can get lost as soon as i open them. i think i am obsessed with words, language, reading and writing. writing and reading go hand in hand. they are breathing, finding myself, getting rid of things/thoughts/feelings, they are routine, silence, a room of my own, pleasure.
since i finally learned to read not a single day passed when i didn’t open a book and i keep on writing through all different kinds of phases. of course this writing takes different forms. previously i used to write my diary, then i started to write my blog and zines. academic writing also plays a major role in my writing practise. it is very different from writing f.e. this text. but i also consider it to be a creative act. if we define creativity as the act of creating/producing something new. though the texts produced are limited by strict rules.
sometimes i ask myself: why do i torture my readers and myself and write my zines and my blog in english? of course i still remember my initial motivation to write in english – my wish to exchange my writing with as many people as possible. you have no idea how much time i spend looking up words and expressions which simply not exist in english but are so important to me. or editing my texts or how often i spot mistakes when i reread my older zines (and sometimes i fell ashamed about them). my writing performance in english is a mess. i always get confused with the tenses and i always want to stick together nouns. but the only thing this great feature of the german language creates when used in english are mistakes and misunderstandings.
as i said: i am obsessed with words and language. i love language. the sidetones are extremely important to me. guess what: it hardly works out ever when you are writing in a language that is not your mother tongue. while i stayed in london i felt like i had lost something really important: my humour. or to put it better: i lost the laughters of others when i made jokes. i have a deeply sarcastic and black humour, which simple didn’t work for others in english (except of one person who i still call a close friend of mine).
taking this experience and the other things mentioned above i still continue to write in english. because somehow this language is very important to me. it became a part of me during the months i spent in london, the english books i read, the connections i made with english speakers and it tastes like traveling to me. plus it is still very present in my daily life. when i write in english i reconnect with other parts of myself and with other books, sayings and expressions.when i write in english i write different than i would do in german. so many sentences that sound pathetic to me in german comfort my ears when written down in english. of course i do not know if you share this. language is intersubjective and very personal at the same time. you will always feel different about certain words and expressions than i do.
during the years i experimented with a lot of different ways to express myself in a creative way. i drew and painted pictures. i pottered. from an early age on i have taken a lot of pictures. i did some film projects. i developed a love for collage. recently i started to vj (mixing short film sequences together). i always find myself limited. the media you use always influences/alters your message or better how you can express yourself. there are always implicit or explicit borders. the size of this sheet of paper is limited. when moving pictures stand still they are not a film anymore and vice versa. i have to roughly follow grammar and spelling rules when i am writing if i want to make sure that yo u and me can share some inverse understanding of the content of this text. so since how we can express ourselves is always limited i can accept that my lack of english skills restrict my writing.
what is much more important for me than perfection is to share something. i mean it’s a zine. it is do it yourself. diy was never about perfection and this is one of the things i love about it. because the moment we free ourselves from the pressure to do things perfectly we are free to finally do/create something instead of worrying if we are good enough to be allowed to do it. this widespread opinion and seemingly need to be perfect in what we do does not bear the imprint of genius but of capitalism. a neoliberal system that always tells us we need to be better than others. that tells us there are right and very wrong ways to do things. that promises us we can perfect ourselves by only working hard enough. don’t get me wrong — i am not speaking against the wish to get better in what we are doing, but against this pressure to be perfect. this pressure to perform creativity up to certain standards which are normally set by white cisgendered males*. on basis of such norms women*, people of colour and others have been excluded from the fine arts for such a long time. and they still are in so many ways. so if we take the pens, instruments, brushes we can emancipate/free ourselves from these bullshit ideas about right and wrong ways to be creative and that is a very powerful act.
for me creativity is not about perfection but about pleasure and the urgent need to get things out of my system. creativity is healing, connecting with others, enjoying lonesome hours, getting lost in the process itself. i recently started reading “writing down the bones” from natalie goldberg thanks to atlanta who recommended this book during her great writing workshop at the mini queer zinefest berlin. The book touches me in so many ways. she writes “writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate” – i can embrace this sentence with all my heart and i think it is not limited to writing but to the general creative process. this way of meeting myself and be intimate is so precious to me.
after i finished MOMO 3 last year in october i had a writers block for some months. not only a writers block but a general disconnection from my creative energy. i found myself at a very difficult place in my life and i was so exhausted from writing my master thesis, worrying about the future, my living situation etc. it felt so strange to be disconnected from my creativity. it was such an important part of who i am i was missing! it also confused me. because as i said during all these storms and changes writing/ being creative always accompanied me. i missed the dates with myself and this floating creative energy. i missed how it put me in a space outside myself and my current life while at the same time reconnecting with me and somehow making a sense of this confusing thing called life. it is strange – to be creative i need a busy life but at the same time a space to retreat. these things not always come together. the space to retreat is not so much a question of an actual physical space but much more of a certain state of mind. if i am deeply involved with strong feelings i cannot write about them in a way that is enjoyable for others. i need a distance. i need some kind of an observer’s position and of course i need concentration which is so often hard to reach. the distractions are waiting behind every corner. i am still struggling to give creativity the place in my life it deserves.
another sentence which really get to the heart of what creativity means to me is this one by andrea gibson: “we have to create, it is the only thing louder than destruction.” and it also answers the question why i am writing these lines and i consider it important to do it.
even if this world is a mess and i sometimes feel bad for not writing badass this-shit-nailing articles on (current) political/environmental/ ethical/daily questions and events. there is so much destruction around us – on the micro level of our personal experiences and personal milieu as well as the macro level of sexist/heteronormative/capitalist/racist/… societies and wars, global warming etc etc. since this world can be/is such a destructive place it is important to create and explore some other realities, to spin utopias.
just the simple act of sharing something personal in a world that only values commodified goods and turns humans into human capital is a resistant act. or to borrow one more time words from someone else – in the zine “doris #29” cindy writes: “The personal is political only when we take our personal experiences of sexism and victimization and we take the rage and the sorrow that comes, and we share these stories and emotions to create a deeper understanding of how patriarchy works in our society and in our lives, and we use the power of those connections and understandings to create ‘strategies of intervention and transformation,’ both internally, within our political movements and within the society as whole.” for me these words contain the hope/trust that the personal is political and much more powerful than we think it is. so go out there and share your stories. trust yourself. your stories matter!