I’ve been finishing a novel that I started four years ago and have been seriously in the throes of writer’s block recently. I think it has to do with the fact that I have to write at least three articles a week for my income and by the time my week is over I have already spent so much brain power churning out the non-fiction that it’s hard to get motivated for the fiction. Last week I decided to trick myself and pull out all of the published fiction I have written in my lifetime to hopefully electrocute my synapses back into action. One piece that I found thrilled me to the core, a piece I had completely forgotten about until I found it at the bottom of a moving box.
A few years back I was in a project called Ab Ovo, curated by San Francisco-based artist Steven Hull. He paired a number of contemporary, emerging artists with a number of contemporary, emerging fiction writers. I was chosen as one of the writers and was paired with Lamar Peterson, an illustrative painter whose work I completely admire. The concept was fascinating. Hull had a bunch of famous artists take the old fashioned hardcore MPSS personality test, then he sent us the results without telling us who the artists were. Then we took the results, reviewed them and created a short story about that artist but as CHILD based on the test results. It as wild and challenging and fun.
My story was called Boy in a Butterfly Garden, about the son of a nervous, hypochondriac who escapes into the desert for solace with the milkweeds, teddy bear cholla and shape-shifting clouds. When I was done, I sent my story to Lamar who illustrated it in the ways that he saw fit. It was interesting because none of us were allowed to know who each other were until after the project was completed, and we could give no explanations or directions to one another.
I was super pleased when the book came out and we were able to finally discover our collaborators. The show traveled from Steven Wolfe Gallery in San Francisco to the Santa Monica Hangar in Los Angeles but we were all given hardbound books of the fiction and the drawings to keep as souvenirs. After finding this last night, my itch to create imaginary people, situations and words has been reignited. Sometimes all it takes is a short visit to the ghosts of projects past…