by Tulasi-Priya on Thursday 5 April 2012

I’ve been bad. I used a valid crisis as an excuse for not posting, not writing, and now all that I went through at the time seems oh-so-distant, almost—almost—inconsequential. But that’s also what writing does, it creates distance between what is experienced and what is told. And yet the whole point of writing is to make present and tangible what was experienced.

The distance was there even in the moment. Even though I didn’t write a word, I was seeing the events, including my thoughts, not merely as a human being having an experience, but as a writer, a witness standing to the side, observing the whole situation, crafting it into a story in my mind. A true story, but nonetheless a story. Makes me wonder if I’m living the experience more, or less, than the person who never thinks to write about it. But that’s neither here nor there, since even if I never write another word in my life, I will always see things as if I were going to write them. So I might as well write them.

I once wrote a very simple and very sad song about Krishna. A woman told me it never failed to make her cry, and asked me how I could sing the song without crying myself. I told her that the emotion that inspired the song had to be renounced for the sake of the song, and for the sake of the audience’s experience. I had to focus on things like breath, timing, intonation, volume—all very prosaic and cold-blooded calculations that I make as a performer, to give the impression of emotion in the singing of the song. I don’t scruple to use tricks (a catch of the breath, a slow, shuddering ending) to pull heartstrings, because what would be the point of not doing so? You don’t get a second chance. It’s not that I don’t experience the emotion when I sing, but I don’t give way to it. I imagine with writing a book or creating any full-length work it’s much the same thing: inspiration followed by a retraction of the emotional self in the rewriting. Experience becomes vision becomes object becomes product becomes—full circle—experience for the reader (or viewer or listener).

Yes, I’ve been bad, but I feel completely amoral about it. This is also bad, but at this point, feeling bad about being bad won’t accomplish anything. If I’m going to write at all, I can’t let the not-writing get the upper hand in any way; I have to be detached even from writing/not-writing. Right now I’m here, and the point is to show up, whatever I may feel notwithstanding.

I wasn’t planning to write even this much (is it too much? Does anybody out in the interwebs have any attention span left?), but I tricked myself into writing by initially posting only this simple-yet-accomplished little video*, which still has power to charm and inspire, even if it doesn’t employ expensive and advanced technology. Love and skill (and time) are all we need to make the connection at the heart of any creative enterprise. At least, it’s all we need to begin.

What is the most powerful, yet simple, thing you know, do, or possess?

*So much of getting anything done is employing tactics that don’t activate one’s anxiety.


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

SparksInShadow April 5, 2012 at 1:52 am

Sometimes distance can do wonders. Its permutations have you writing again. As a fellow writer, I think that can’t be bad.

The most powerful yet simple thing? Hmm… before my marriage in 2004, I would have said my capacity to love. That didn’t turn out to be so powerful or simple as I thought.

I think it’s the way I listen to my daughter. She’s grown up now and some of what she tells or asks me makes my eyes hurt, like her words are little flying sticks. That makes her laugh. (A good laughter, I swear.)

In the past couple of years, she’s let me know how powerful my listening is. It’s okay for her to know that I don’t agree with a choice she’s made, as long as I listen. And give her advice within her choice, if she asks for it. I nearly fell over when she said that to me out loud.

That may not sound so simple in the retelling, but it actually is. At least for me.


Tulasi-Priya April 5, 2012 at 11:31 am

Ré, I think what you’re talking about circles back to the idea of detachment, particularly as concerns your daughter. It doesn’t mean not loving or caring, but it does mean we let go of any expectation of a certain outcome. That’s easier, I think, with children, since it’s in the way of things for them to leave us and live their own lives. With a mate, obviously, it’s not in the way of things for them to leave. Detachment then, is much more painful, more of a survival mechanism, but I think it’s also a chance for spiritual growth. The hardest things to bear usually are. Spiritual growth or no, I still wouldn’t wish it on anyone.


Virginia llorca April 5, 2012 at 2:37 am

Caring. Also the most painful , troubling thing.


Tulasi-Priya April 5, 2012 at 11:36 am

Yes. Relationships are the problem, but how can we become fully human without them? We’re each born the god of our own little universe, and one by one, Others invade. Whether by force or desire, we learn to share, and care, and damned if the Others don’t think it’s their universe we’ve invaded.


Sarah W April 5, 2012 at 6:48 am

If I’m going to write at all, I can’t let the not-writing get the upper hand in any way; I have to be detached even from writing/not-writing. Right now I’m here, and the point is to show up, whatever I may feel notwithstanding.

These few sentences are both simple and powerful. And very much appreciated!


Tulasi-Priya April 5, 2012 at 11:39 am

Sarah, I’ve been reading Gone with the Wind (skimming, actually; it’s too long to spend that much time on), and I have to say, you are the Melanie Wilkes of the blog realm: always encouraging! Of course, you have a bit of an edge to you, but then, if you’ve read the book, you’d know that so does Miss Melanie!


Sarah W April 5, 2012 at 7:53 pm

As long as you’re not looking through Scarlett’s eyes when you say that, I’ll take it as a compliment! :)


Tulasi-Priya April 6, 2012 at 3:05 am



Averil Dean April 5, 2012 at 7:16 pm

“I imagine with writing a book or creating any full-length work it’s much the same thing: inspiration followed by a retraction of the emotional self in the rewriting.”

Very true. The emotion has to be hot in the first draft, but to make the reader feel it, I think you need to dial it back during revisions. There has to be room for the reader to insert herself into the situation; if the writer takes up all the emotional space through overwrought language, the reader is left on the outside, looking in. My favorite books have a lot of space inside them.


MacDougalStreetBaby April 6, 2012 at 7:46 am

Recently I heard one of the Supreme Court Justices on NPR talking about the art of arguing. He said to get your point across you have to take your emotion out. I know it’s true and yet I have such difficulty abiding by that. Nobody wants to listen to whining or crying or screaming. I know I don’t. And yet when I’m the person who feels slighted or devastated, I come back with arms flailing. A friend said the other day over coffee, “I’m a big supporter of the walk around the block to cool things off.” I need to do that. Before I even open my mouth to respond, I need to go take a walk.

I do agree with what Averil just said. Experience first. Then detach. Otherwise, your life has been shorted and we all just become robots.


Tulasi-Priya April 6, 2012 at 8:54 am

I’m with you. I was just thinking about how I’d love to take back every less-than-loving thing I ever said to anybody, but mainly to my husband and my mother, all because I’d been so caught it up in whatever I was feeling at the time. But that’s the difference between art and life, isn’t it? You can’t write a novel “in the heat of the moment,” now can you? Nor do we generally wish we could “unsay” what we’ve written.

Or do we?


Virginia Llorca May 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Off topic. I feel so bad. That person hates me and I feel like the worst thing you can do is comment to me because it brings you into her sites. Talk about your menopause problems. I know I can’t apologize for what someone else did, but I love chatting with you. You seem to have found a way to clear something that is fuzzy in my head and I hope I may learn something about clear thinking. I just feel bad about this. I have a hard time with the water off the duck’s back thing. I always feel drenched. My email is


Tulasi-Priya May 14, 2012 at 3:04 am

I’m not ignoring you, I’ve been on the road with no internet access for the last four days.

Don’t worry about bitchy comments. I like the view from my high horse, and I invite anyone to share it with me. Or get their own high horse and we’ll go galloping through the fields. I think you’re funny, and different (in a nice way), and intriguing. We can’t please everyone and why the hell would we want to? Shake those feathers dry and keep paddling.


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