an update 11.29.22

I like it when creativity bubbles out of me. I like it when I can feel like there is nothing in my brain but the things I have created. When there is a break from reality and I can sit comfortably with a world that exists only because I made it that way.

It’s a way of feeling in control of what’s going on around me, even if it only happens when I close my eyes or when I finally stop having other thoughts flitting back and forth in my mind, breaking what I’ve so carefully worked to construct.

Naturally, it feels as if I have lost a vital part of me: the part that keeps me safe, cocooned. But the thing is, my creative well doesn’t continue flowing endlessly. It runs out.

I’ve thrown my pail into the well, and it’s been coming up empty. And I panic.

I start worrying about whether it will come back or not. I start to wonder if I was ever creative to begin with, or if I have just gotten lucky that I could focus on one story in my head for years on end, fleshing out the details to make my own friends and move them accordingly so they can go through the things I think would be interesting and want to explore.

But then I think about how I plan and plot and outline what their actions are supposed to be, and how the path of the scene inevitably changes because the character that I made and I control doesn’t want to go on that path.

So, I begrudgingly let them forge their way. They make messes. They dilly dally along the page. Sometimes the things that happen are easy to tie together to work with the story as a whole. And sometimes they completely unhinge the plot and I get too overwhelmed about finding a way to fix the problem.

I’ve been writing less and less since graduating college. I went into and through school thinking that writing would be my career. I’ve had jobs, I’ve left jobs. I’ve white-knuckled my way through trying to navigate being a creative person, the joints of my fingers sending shocks of pain out from how hard I’ve been clinging to whatever I thought I could control about my path in life.

Obviously, I think I’ve approached it the wrong way this whole time. I think we all do. But we can’t blame ourselves for it. After all, there’s a path we’ve all been told from a young age saying that if you follow the outline of the plot that’s been written for you, you’ll be successful.


But as I’m sitting here, staring at a long document with a manuscript that’s been four (maybe more?) years in the making, completely debilitated by the amount of work that needs to be done on it and not able to make myself sit down and do it, I realize that I’m wrong. And I’ve been wrong. And I’ve been taught wrong.

And that’s okay. It’s all okay.

One day, Lèna and Levi will be on a page in someone else’s hands and someone will be reading the absolute best version of whatever mess I’m currently throwing down in words that makes no sense to me now. It’s disjointed and confusing and messy and really, really uncomfortable.

And I’ll continue to plan, to try to control it. I’ll watch as Lèna makes the end of the book have to completely change and be rethought. I’ll probably cry and be so overwhelmed that it took me six months to think of a way to end this story and make it into too neat of a bow. Because that’s what she does. And that’s what we do in our own lives, too.

But I’ll also listen to her. I won’t try to make the original plot line work if it doesn’t. I just hope I can do the same for myself, too.


Does Interpretation of Literature Destroy the Purpose of the Art?

As I sit here in my room, listening to Victorian London ambience, a question from my school reading popped into my head.

“Now, why would I want to listen to some academia nerd about literature?”

I’m sure that’s what you’re all thinking. Well, I can say this with confidence: interpretation of the arts is something we all do, regardless of whether we know it or not.

I’m currently in a Cultural Criticism class. We read an epilogue of C.S. Lewis and an excerpt from Susan Sontag about how interpretation can ruin the meaning behind art by trying to find the meaning of that piece of art.

How can it do this? Simply put, art has innate value, and while everyone interprets art differently, the meaning we put behind that art is not what gives the art value.

An artist can make a piece, have nothing in mind for it to say, and it still means something. There is value just in the fact that it was produced as an artwork.

The same goes for, you know, humans and all that philosophical thought.

Something that seemed to be a bit more troublesome for me, though, was Sontag’s thoughts on interpretation as a whole. She says that the mimetic theory “challenges art to justify itself”.

Let’s back up a bit. The mimetic theory essentially states that there must be an interpretation to art for it to have a meaning, as a piece of art always says something about the world, humans, etc.

At this point, I agree with Sontag. I do believe that there is an innate value in the creation of things, regardless of whether it has a meaning or not. However, Sontag goes even further to say that interpretation is “the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings”.

I disagree wholeheartedly. Yes, interpretation is a translation of sorts of the actual art, but it is the only way for humans to make sense of the art. To which Sontag replies, “Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, comformable.”

As a human, though, isn’t this the only way we can view art? All the way back to the Lascaux Cave Paintings, humans have interpreted art to what it “really means”. Back then, of course, it was a way to communicate without written language. I do not see how this is different from interpretation to art now, especially literature.

Humans are complex and muddled, and often the words we use and string together as sentences can have multiple meanings. Interpretation of literature allows for that one sentence to be taken and molded to how the viewer can digest it.

After all, once the art is made, it is no longer the owner’s. It belongs to everyone it can reach.

Lewis agrees in the value of art for the sake of the art itself. However, he seems to divulge from Sontag’s strict thoughts on interpretation. While the meaning of the art does not give it value, there is a value to interpreting art.

As humans, it is a way for us to love one another. As Lewis puts it, “We seek an enlargement of our being. We want to be more than ourselves.”

Through interpretation of literature, we find empathy and kindness and the actual feeling of being in another person’s position.

I think that’s beautiful.

From looking at both Sontag and Lewis, it is clear that literature is not, in fact, ruined by interpretation, but instead it is a way for humans to understand one another and the work itself. There is value in art itself, but for humans to comprehend the piece, interpretation is necessary.

Diagnosis Psychosis

Sweat clings to me, my shirt, my sheets. Dreams tug me back into their arms, pulling me until my eyes tear away from familiar shadows cast by the dull lamps that flicker outside. Lucidity opens her arms and lets me go; lets me fall into the storm of jumbled thoughts and ideas that are tinged with a fiery disarray of subconsciousness. I am caught. There is no rest in this web of monsters and false reality.

Someone says my name. It is quiet, I look over. Did you call my name? No. Of course they did not. The air conditioner gurgles; a woman speaks without words in her bright, bubbly voice. I look over the darkness. Are you on your phone? No. Of course she is not. She is asleep and the woman’s inviting tones return to the trickling of the air conditioner and the car honks and the moving of furniture upstairs. Whispers. I hear them as I walk past a person who is alone, I hear them walking through a door, I hear them when I should not hear them anywhere. Whispers whispers whispers. But they aren’t there.

My wrists keep nudging me. They prickle my skin and seem to sing to me through my muscles. I’m here, I’m here, don’t forget what you can do to me, they whisper. Though their voice is not truly there, it is simply spoken through my body. My skin rests there, above the tissue and the muscle and the blood. It is wrong. Isn’t it? No. Yes. Yes. It lays there, beckoning me to open it, as if a blade can turn into the key to the doors of my flesh that will open to a warm trickle of comfort. It sits there, tight against my bones, nudging me.

I cannot speak today. I have not lost my voice, nor have I lost things to say. The thought of talking weighs on my throat. I cannot speak today. I listen and I work sloppily and I drift into sleep that heavily coats my eyelids and locks my eyelashes together for hours on hours.

I cannot sleep today. I work and work and work and I cannot stop. I have too much to say. Ideas spin in my mind, my thoughts turning like a bingo cage until one of them slips out. I’ve said too much. Have I? Bingo! What color next? Yellow. Work work work. I cannot sleep today.


Smoke creeps through the streets, greeting each piece of rubble with a whip and a lick of satisfaction. Sirens accompany the silence that routinely falls upon the city after a night of raids. Calm amidst chaos: an unsettling, yet compatible pairing.

Matya balances between an overturned kitchen sink and a slab of concrete, reaching for the perfect stone to throw for her game of hopscotch. Tracing her left foot against the dust, she challenges herself to a more complex game. Each night of the Blitz adds another square to her game.

“…23, 24,” she says, squeezing her tattered boot in the narrow space to fit the newest addition.

Her friends do not join her. Months prior, without a hint of remorse for missing her eleventh birthday party, Elizabeth and Joan boarded a train to evacuate the city. Now, Matya finds ways to amuse herself within the confines of a war that offers no promise of affectionate companionship.

The days repeat themselves. Matya wakes up in the bunker, tames her short, brown hair, washes her face, kisses Mama on the cheek after devouring whatever resembles breakfast that day, and emerges into the streets of London. Her morning ritual stays the same, no matter the day. After exploring the aftermath of the night before, she begins her trek toward Waterloo, as if she were Napoleon — though she hopes her mission will be more successful.

Past Waterloo Station rests the home of her favorite place; no one understood her fascination with the macabre destination she so often visits. The building stands not as tall as those that surround it. It is only around 2 stories high, and the bricks cracked around the archway. On it, in large, metal letters read the word: NECROPOLIS.

Only one light is on in the ticket booth.

“Hello, Joseph.” She enters the booth and smiles at the only living man within the building.

“Good morning, Matya.” He reaches his hand toward her, which she eagerly takes. Joseph’s dark, unruly curls remind her of Papa. “I’m afraid no one has bought a ticket for the rails today.”

Matya is not surprised; no one buys tickets anymore. If there were more money and a more manageable number of casualties, perhaps the railway would be more lively.

Lively? Your humor is truly suffering from this war, Matya.

Nevertheless, she laughs to herself as she walks to the platform.

Immediately, people surround her. A man sits on the peeling green painted bench, playing a melancholy tune while a couple, the bride still in her wedding gown, spin in so many circles that Matya thinks they’ll fall onto the tracks. She walks in rhythm of their footsteps to the edge of the platform, turning her back to look at all the new people she has the pleasure of meeting today.

Each day is different, but the people normally look and feel the same. They have a slight glow to them, which Matya can only describe like the look of the back of her fingers when she pushes a flashlight deep into her skin. It glows pink and fresh.

Nothing like what a person ​really​ looks like when they are dead.
The familiar arched ceiling, covered with tiles and cobwebs bounces the sound of the saxophone back onto the platform. She looks, but she cannot find him.

Where are you, Papa?

But if he is not here, it means there is still hope. Those who are there, though, invite her to dance. The groom extends his hand, but she declines, and dances by herself, twirling in her tattered red dress, pretending Papa stood alongside her, clapping to the beat.

Only once did she touch one of the ghosts, a young boy with his hand outstretched and a large, crooked smile on his face. When their hands met it felt ​wrong​. She felt her heart slow, and her breathing get heavier. She ran home to Mama that day with tears in her eyes.

Matya walks home right before dusk, as she does every evening. Her feet drag and crunch the rubble beneath her feet. She likes the sound. She imagines that’s what it sounds like when Papa marches in the War.

Maybe if I just go further out in the city, I will find him.

But Matya goes home as always, and Mama scolds her for her scraped knees, but laughs and kisses her head as she washes them.

“I don’t understand why you go there, Matya. Why?”

But Matya will not let her mother know that she is waiting for him. She dreads each moment she is in the platform, knowing at any second, Papa could be there. So she looks and waits each day.

Over the next few days, her hopscotch game grows.

“…27, 28.” She huffs, tears covering her eyes, which she scrunches until they are forced to slide down her face and onto the tip of her nose. She licks them off her nose, a trick she often shows new friends that don’t believe she can do it.

“He is ​not ​coming home, Matya. You know that. But I need you to come home. Every night I wait here, thinking you won’t come back. We need to be sensible about these things.” Her mother’s cheeks flushed as she said those words. She had paced back and forth, her long, brown curls swishing to the side each time she turned. Matya waited to cry until the hopscotch game.

She stands on the rubble, looking at the spots where her tears turned the dust a dark gray. In a rush of anger, she gets on her scraped knees and crawls down her hopscotch game, pushing dirt, rocks, and a broken toy around.

There is no time for playing anymore. Please, don’t prove her right, Papa.

Matya runs the 13 blocks to Necropolis Station, not stopping once to catch her breath. She throws open the rusted ticket booth door, but Joseph is not there. Thinking, he, too, abandoned the station, Matya walked through the corridor to the platform. An old woman knits on the bench, and three men huddle in a corner playing cards. Others stand, waiting for the train to come. She walks around, smiling as she passes mothers with their newborns. Not breaking her gaze at the curly-haired infant, she bumps into another person, and her breath escapes her lungs in an agonizingly slow wheeze. She breaks the contact, and twirls around, her breath finally returning.

The man smiles at her, but Matya’s eyes fill with tears.


“Hello, Matya! Would you believe it? It’s so nice in here.”

She does not answer, but instead backs out to the corridor and returns home without knowing how she got there. Sobbing, she ran to her mother’s arms.

“Mama…Joseph…he was on the platform!” She tries to slow her breathing, but instead coughs and cries harder at the burn in her chest.

“Well, of course he was, Matya. He works there. Why are you so upset, darling?” Her mother wipes her tears into the sides of her face, wetting her hair where the moisture meets.

She will never understand.

She looks up at her mother, the tears drying in her eyes. She lays on the couch they found deserted in the street, and looks up at the ceiling that used to be the home of her friend Joan before they had to leave, and before Matya’s home no longer existed. Her mother sits, putting Matya’s head in her lap, and hums tunelessly until Matya falls asleep.

She wakes hours later to sounds of her mother preparing dinner, slips out of the house, and walks slowly to the station. She stops, staring at the sign that she sees everyday, but feels no excitement. There is no Joseph to greet as she passes the ticket booth. She runs her hands across the tiled walls of the corridor and stops before the platform. The train departs each day at 3 PM, leaving Matya with no one to talk to, or dance with. She stands in the middle, looking at the tracks. She stays like this for a long time, long past darkness covering the city, long past when the sirens begin blaring through the streets. She yawns, and sits against the wall, falling asleep almost immediately.

“Matya,” a voice says. “Wake up, Matya. It’s time to go, darling.”

Her eyes open slowly as she rubs them, unsticking her eyelids from her bottom lashes. “Papa?”

He smiles at her. He looks different, looks pink and warm and ​here.​ His curly hair is greased back against his head, and he wears his military uniform. He smells just as he did when he left: like thyme and the smell of old books in his office. She throws her arms around him, and does not notice that her breath stays the same.

Behind them, she hears crackling and smells thick smoke, the kind that burrows in her lungs and stifles her breathing. The kind she swallowed when her own home was hit by the Blitz.

Around them, dozens of people pace and play and perform, all unaware and unbothered by the fire blazing and tiles broken at their feet. Even Matya does not feel panic at the sight; she takes Papa’s hand and leans against his arm.

“The train is coming early today,” a man with a checkered hat says to them. Papa nods his head in acknowledgement and scratches his temple.

“Looks as if it will be busy today,” he says. He smiles at Matya. “I’m so glad to see you.”

He does not have to raise his voice to be heard over the fire and sirens. In fact, Matya does not even notice them anymore. The man in the checkered hat invites her to dance to the violin that someone begins playing, and she accepts. After a moment, Papa cuts in to dance with her.

As the train pulls up, part of the arched ceiling begins to crumble, falling at Matya’s feet. She does not worry, though, and uses it as a step to kiss Papa’s cheek.

“Would you like the window seat?” Papa asks.
She nods her head as Papa lifts her onto the train and closes the door behind them.