I was musing the other day while journaling about whether I "should" write essays as opposed to short (or long) fiction or poetry (which I "dabble" in), because I know what I'm doing when I write an essay. I'm competent in that form.
But then I turned right around and said, no! I want to play! Fiction and poetry are perfect, precisely because I don't know what I'm doing! I should have fun! And not just with writing, but with making things generally—artist books and photographs; with drawing, gardening, and cooking. I want to experiment! (Okay, maybe not cooking.) Competence is overrated! (Yeah, definitely not cooking.)
No, no, I told my inner child: competence is not overrated. However, it isn't all there is, either; you are right about that. Play is very important. And indeed, you (I) could be better at it, for sure.
|Not Carmel: but wow, the artistry!|
Plus, it illustrates my plight . . .
So, in the midst of wondering about that—cultivate seriousness or simply fool around—I realized that my problem wasn't competence or lack thereof so much as not wanting to think of myself as a contradiction.
And yet: contradiction is (I believe) the very fuel of creativity and exploration. If everything made sense, if everything had an answer, well—we'd be set, right? But it doesn't, and so . . . we question, we try to find a balance between the unknown and the known, we search for our center, which may lie between two (or more) opposites.
“In art, and maybe just in general, the idea is to be able to be really comfortable with contradictory ideas. In other words, wisdom might be, seem to be, two contradictory ideas both expressed at their highest level and just let to sit in the same cage sort of, vibrating. So, I think as a writer, I'm really never sure of what I really believe.”
― Jeanette Winterson
And apropos of absolutely nothing (except I reencountered it while searching Google for a "contradiction cartoon"), a smile to round things out: