Playing With Dolls


So this is all going on*– my index finger hurts because I bent back the nail; the world is coated with yellow-green oak pollen; the dog is lying here in the living room with both ears up on high alert; my son is out with his friend; and I am sitting in a chair, Trying To Write, with Suffragette City winding around and around in my brain:

Oh don’t lean on me man
Cause you can’t afford the ticket
I’m back on Suffragette City
Oh don’t lean on me man
Cause you ain’t got time to check it
You know my Suffragette City
Is outta sight… she’s alright

Before dinner I went through some old magazines and pulled out pictures to use in collage and I thought again how my hobbies are childish. Cutting up magazines, making jewelry from beads and wire, gluing twine onto a balloon– these seem like the preoccupations of a ten-year-old girl. Is there something childish about wanting to make things with my own hands? Or is it the things themselves– collages, bead necklaces and bracelets, coasters, pillows, mish-mash quilted throws– just a few things I’ve made over the last while– do they lack some adult and serious quality.

I don’t know.

Maybe it is how I feel when I make them– like I’m not quite sure what I’m doing, like it all might go wrong and end up looking like crap. Is this how it essentially is to make something? No. There are experts who make things. But I am not an expert. I don’t have that quality. I am going on instinct, on partial knowledge, and an idea. That’s how the book is going.

I am only in possession of a poor map that sort of shows where I need to go. The characters come to me, luminous and fuzzy. I see them without my glasses. Now and then I get a glimpse of the particular, like a spray of freckles across a nose, or a jacket with quartz pebbles in the pocket. It’s like trying to see a ballroom with a single candle. So many things are dark and will not yield.

I told J. that I feel like I should already know what I am doing– after all, I have been writing for a long time, and he said that is external to the work, like worrying how it looks from the outside. (Worrying because it looks like I don’t know what I am doing.) It doesn’t matter how it looks from the outside. I am not in charge of the outside. I am on the inside, sitting in a room playing with dolls, moving them with my hands and making them talk and eat and run and laugh.

*This post is a mostly unedited journal entry from March 26, 2016. There’s no pollen in December. At least, not in North Carolina.

Photo Credit

Photo playing with dolls 1 by Michael Kordahi via flickr and licensed under CC 2.0

1 thought on “Playing With Dolls

  1. Great! Now Suffragette City is running through my head – in direct contradiction to the sound of Tibetan Healing Chimes. Oy. I am loving the sentence: “I am not in charge of the outside. I am on the inside, sitting in a room playing with dolls….”

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