First of all, Lightspeed’s May issue is out and Breaking the Spell is appearing in it as a reprint. I’m delighted to share this story with more readers as it’s one of my personal favorites.
I also wanted to share this bit of joy that came to me at the end of a difficult week.
Yesterday, I went walking in The Hague with a friend and we found ourselves in an artist’s atelier. The artist, Ibrahim Lodia Diallo, was there and took time to talk to us about his art and the work he does.
Today, I went back to the artist’s atelier to pick up the carving that captured my eye. I also brought home an exuberant painting that made me want to jump with joy.
In conversation with the artist, he said: when you make art, you make it from your spirit. There is no need to worry about who will buy it or who you are making this art for, because the art you are making is meant for someone. Sometimes, it takes a long time before a piece of art finds its proper owner. He told me about a painting that had been hanging in his atelier for three years before its owner found it.
This is art, he said. You don’t have to stress about it or make it fit with people’s expectations. You make art from your connection with where art comes from.
I think of how the work that digs deep comes from that place and I find myself thinking of a panel at Loncon where I sheepishly admitted to not adjusting the work or even thinking about the reader when I write. But I think that there is always someone out there who the work is meant for. I don’t need to compromise my vision in order to fit into what the world sees as proper narrative. I am able to do this now after spending years in training, after honing craft and use of language and understanding what it is that really matters to me.
I continue to learn. I continue to explore. I also am keeping hold of the truth that there is no room for fear when we embrace the work.
Praise and accolades are not important. It’s the work that matters. The reader the work was meant for will read it and will rejoice. Just as I rejoice in being able to have some art. (I don’t have lots of money, but it’s a sorry day when I turn down the opportunity to own a bit of happiness.)
I’ve hung up the painting over our table and will hang up the carving over my desk. Tangible reminders to embrace the work without fear and to keep walking forward with hope, with expectation and with joy.
I dream of a future. It may not be everybody’s dream, but that dream future is mine. It’s a future I may not live to see, but it’s a future that I long to be.