There’s no mistaken it. Things are pretty dark for those of us in the United States. Bleaker still for Black people. With the onslaught of COVID-19 deaths hitting our communities harder than others, to the death of our heroes (John Lewis, Rev. C.T. Vivian, Chadwick Boseman, etc.), to the seemingly endless names of state-sanctioned murder of Black men and women. On any given day, it is a struggle to rise up, as Maya Angelo would encourage. It’s a heavy burden, and it weighs down my creative Muse like the earth on Atlas’s back.
And yet, I do. We do.
How? How do we create art when it seems that we could be doing something more important, more tangible, more impactful like protesting or registering people to vote or writing our senators and demanding the pass and restore the Voter Registration Act.
This is not to say we aren’t doing those things.
We are also creating or trying to produce art.
If you are struggling to create during this strange, hard, and difficult time, this blog post is for you. It’s for us who are actively grieving. It’s for us who are hurting and finding the motivation to rise, to spark, just out of grasp as darkness continues to grow.
The dark is rising.
Here’s how I find my spark to repeal some of the gloom, to push it back so that I can see what’s in front of me.
Noble prize winner, Toni Morrison said, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
Here are the steps I follow once I read these words.
- Meditate or reflect on the words.
- Set short term goal (usually what I can do today).
- How am I going to accomplish it using writing and language?
- Start the task at once, which includes laying out the materials, tools, and idea I want to follow up on.
So, I meditate on those words. I decide how, today [ short term goal], am I going to use language and writing to heal [myself, my readers, my mom, etc.]. Then I engage in the activity.
It’s important to have short term goals that are obtainable. Baby steps so that 1. I don’t get overwhelmed in my worn and battle-weary emotional state, and 2. I can feel accomplished when I complete it and may be encouraged to do more.
This is how I ignite. This is how I spark my creativity when the world threatens to choke out my light.
I won’t let.
I can’t let it.
Chadwick Boseman said, “I’m an artist. Artists don’t need permission to work. Regardless of whether I’m acting or not, I write. I write when I’m tired in fact, because I believe your most pure thoughts surface.”
Because I am an artist. There are Black women who want my stories, who need to see representation of themselves in science fiction stories, in weird western stories, and in fantasy stories, solving crimes, being the bringer of light in those stories.
So, when the world continues to grow darker still, remember, you matter and so do your stories. Create. Love. Take baby steps to chase back the dark.
If you do this each day, your spark will grow until is fire.
And you’ve set the grief, heartache, and fear, ablaze.
About the Author:
Nicole Givens Kurtz is an author, educator, and publisher. She’s written stories for Serial Box, Baen, White Wolf, Draco Gaming, Inc. Her novels series have been finalists in the Dream Realm Award, EPPIE Awards for SF, and other recommendations. She’s the publisher of Mocha Memoirs Press, a small publishing company dedicated to amplifying marginalized voices in speculative fiction. You can find her via social media or at her site, www.nicolegivenskurtz.net.