This past week, I was informed that Doctor Who was getting pulled from Netflix on February 1st. So I have not seen most of the Matt Smith episodes and none of the Capaldi years. I buckled in, called it research for my SFF writing, and went for it.
When I reached the award-winning episode entitled "Vincent and the Doctor," I was excited to see what the hub-bub was about. Everyone I know loves this episode, and I wanted to know why.
I think I know why.
For those of you who haven't seen it and don't mind major spoilers about the episode, Vincent VanGogh is a drunken artist who is suffering a real horrible mental illness. He says he is alone in the world, he says no one cares about him, that his life is a sham.
Before the Doctor and Amy leave him, they try to convince Vincent not to kill himself in a year by bringing him to the future to show him the Musee d'Orsay's special exhibit on Vincent VanGogh's work. He hears Bill Nighy tell them all about how great VanGogh was and how he may be the best artist of all time.
Vincent bawls. And so did I.
But I don't know if people who aren't artists have the same reaction we do.
I think that this scene is such a cathartic experience for those of us who don't have a certain future. Maybe other career paths can go to work every day and know that if they work hard, they will get that promotion, they will get a better job ...
But for us? There's a fine line between a person wasting their life on silly stories and someone who will do something really great that people will appreciate and read and cherish.
We all have felt a special kinship to, say, a music artist who starts off small in our hometown and then explodes into the SuchnSuches. It makes the jump realistic. It makes it something that could happen to anyone. It makes our heroes human.
And it's a little heroic to take a chance. As Chris Pratt wrote on instagram this evening, "There was no Plan B." He scraped together money for gas money on a given day. We don't know if we'll get that promotion. We don't know if it'll pay off, and we're seen as egotistical or absolutely bonkers if we think it will.
I don't know where I'll end up. I don't know which one I am. This blog could be something that's forgotten to the times with a bunch of other blogs that aspiring young writers kept before they went onto to something else or just outright fail. Or it could be something that is looked back on as part of my juvenalia, to say, "Look at this, she wrote this before she was her."
Even writing that feels stupid. Even thinking that I could be someone is egotistical and scary.
There's something else I saw this week. This old notebook:
Pretty egotistical, right? This is ridiculous.
It was also a picture taken from the Huffington Post. It was written by Octavia Butler.
All artists want to share something. That is why we make art. We make it for ourselves, but we also make it so there's some physical, tangible form of our pain and happiness.
What is wrong with wanting that to make a difference?
So here's mine. I know I'm not Octavia Butler. But I am willing to work to be J.R. Dawson. And maybe someday that will mean something.
Today, I was gut-punched by the most despicable human being resurfacing in my life.
You know who. It's that person in your own life that Sectumsempra'd you good, got your usually heroic sword-wielding self on the ground with a good upper-hook. It's the person who embarrassed you, shamed you, shriveled you up until you were nothing but a mouse. And it's the person who you will never write about.
Some of us have the courage to write about them. I don't. I'm a fantasy science fiction author. I'm not CNF. I'm not a poet. I'll probably wrap this person up in a dark cloak and vampire teeth and call them something Hungarian. No one will know, not even this person, that I ever visited them in my fiction.
My You Know Who lurks in one single photograph that I held onto, because my other loved ones were in the picture and it was important for me to remember that moment.
Until today, when they resurfaced.
When villains resurface, we have lots of feels. I started writing an angry, scathing, bare-all CNF piece. Dear You, which of course would have had a better title in revisions. But the thing is, I have a revision of my book to do. I have a rental car to return. I have a dinner date with my parents. My husband needs some down time because he worked all day and I leave in two days. Tomorrow, I need to do laundry and pack for residency. And then I get on a plane with my best friend and go to residency.
Because sometimes it's okay to pull from the well. Sometimes stories are just too raw to touch. Sometimes there are other stories, that don't have to do with the Voldemorts, that we need to focus on. We beat back against the past, but sometimes we just gotta focus and row in the right direction.
Later. I will write about you years from now. You will be a vampire. But not now.
I have not seen most of my friends in a year.
I have not been in Maine for a year.
I decided to go to Europe this summer instead. I did my residency abroad.
We won't be going back to the Stonehouse.
We won't be seeing the beautiful woods with the cool tide that I always loved watching.
It won't be exactly the same, and I still haven't processed that in my head.
A lot of my friends won't be there, because they've already graduated. Or they are graduating and coming in later.
A lot of new friends I've never met will be there, and I can't wait to meet them.
I am nervous about workshops. I submitted stories I believe in. I want them to get better.
I worked really hard the last year to be better than I was.
I still have a long ways to go.
I hope I do not get stuck in Newark.
I hope the chairs are more comfortable than they were at Stonehouse.
I hope I don't say anything dumb. It is customary for me to say something really stupid and off-putting by the end of the second day, and I really hope I break my three-for-three streak.
I hope the Popfic Dinner works out.
I am looking forward to the pillow chocolates, although I have promised half of them to Shawna.
I will need to steal someone's pillow chocolates to make up for my deficit.
If you end up missing pillow chocolates, it wasn't me.
What is this?
Dawson is an editor and writer and MFA student at Stonecoast. She writes stuff.