I received a number of maxims on love growing up, but none of them were concerned with its role in the life of an artist. I blame no one for this; “Love is blind” has a simple enough ring to it, but “Love may or may not contribute to what will already be your struggling experience as a creative” is something I’d err on letting my mentees discover on their own. That being said, I do suppose I could coin my own maxim. But that would require me to actually know this truth, and as of yet I admit that I still have no clue.
At large, my dilemma is this: does art (in my case, writing) flourish best in stable, monogamous love, or is it doomed to thrive in singledom? At the moment, my experiences lead me in favor of believing writing is best as a single sport. However, having been subject to both conditions this year, I am willing to make the case for strength in relationships and explore the artistic endgame of both.
During the time of my first stable, monogamous relationship, I wasn’t thoughtful of its artistic sway (or lack thereof). If anything, I was more critical of my work, but in a removed way— how I could I conform to the lens of my partner’s tastes (Did they think i was weird? Any good?). In a love-laced life, I was comfortable, and in comfort I found myself taking a de facto break from most creative expression.
When my relationship abruptly ended, the world seemed to be throwing me into a creative tizzy. I was passionately engaged in thinking about the state of exiled love. In the English language, there are more words to describe negative emotions than happy ones; in my own notebook, there were far more entries chronicling the pain I felt without a lover than the comfort I felt with one. Distance is a poetic lens for love, and in it I couldn’t help but chronicle the existence of a vivid love that had been muddied in present time.
Beyond longing, the experiences I was being drawn into as a single girl seemed to be better creative fodder than, say, repeated nights of watching Netflix and scrolling through Buzzfeed in the same squeaky, dorm room twin bed. There was, for example, the spontaneous week where I dated a boy who sang Bob Dylan to me while I lay under his sheets, his bedroom in Charles Village an artistic, cozy recess. In moments with him, I felt like I could turn minutes into richly interesting pages of prose.
There is something to be said for what my words can accomplish with a familiar and intimate partner. One night stands bring their own curious details, but they do not reveal traits learned through months spent together. I think there is a beauty in articulating the map of a well-known lover’s body, or writing about the anticipatory sensations of simply living with someone whose mind you’ve come to know so well.
I write about missing my lover; I write about coming to love the people I’m getting to know. I capture loves once had, and stretches where love isn’t had at all. I don’t know where my writing is headed, or how my experiences will shape my creative career. But my experiences with people are happening, and for now, these will suffice my mind, and eventually, my words.