Artistic Loneliness

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I’d show you my soul,
open it up before you
and hold it to the light,
but I worry you’d laugh
shredding any self-confidence
that has snuck through
my long line of offenses
and survived.

~Maranda Russell

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Life is Pain

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Life is pain.

And I don’t mean that
in some philosophical
bullshit way…(or maybe I do?)

Life is pain, whether it
be physical, mental,
emotional, or existential.

The gentle yearning ache
of a heart perpetually unfulfilled…

The bittersweet bile of nostalgia
creeping up one’s throat…

The sharp bite of our
unreliably aging bones…

The mind-numbing weight
of each day survived intact…

The desperate call of a soul
that may or may not actually exist…

~ Maranda Russell

Video: Art Insecurity

I’ve been feeling a lot of art insecurity lately, so decided to make a video about it:

My Current Feelings on Religion

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For a few years, I was really pissed at religion. Not necessarily at religious people, I always understood that religious people are just like any other group of people, some are well-meaning and kind and others are power-hungry jerks. Most others fall somewhere in the middle, just like the rest of humanity. Of course, when you are angry at religion in general (or Christianity specifically in my case), those who believe in that religion tend to take whatever you say personally, as if you are attacking them rather than a belief system. I understand to an extent. When you are devoted to a religion, you struggle with any criticism of it because you find much of your identity within that belief system and you honestly believe that God himself will hold you accountable if you don’t defend him (that whole “whoever publicly acknowledges me before others” thing Jesus said).

So why was I mad at religion, and specifically Christianity? Mostly, a feeling of betrayal. I came to the conclusion through much biblical and historical study that the scriptures are not inerrant (and were somewhat put together by Rome for political purposes) and everything kind of crumbled after that. Without the belief in perfect scriptures, I found it impossible to believe much of anything because who knows which parts might be right and which are wrong? Logical questions also played a huge role in my de-conversion. For instance, why in the world would a being create a system where the only way he could forgive wrongs done against him was to send part of himself to earth in the form of his son and excruciatingly kill himself? Why the whole blood sacrifice thing? Isn’t that a bit barbaric and pagan actually? If God can do anything, why in the heck couldn’t he just forgive without something innocent having to be murdered? The more I thought things through, the more I felt betrayed because I had devoted so much of my life to these beliefs that now made no sense to me.

All these feelings haunted me and the more I concentrated on it, the angrier I felt and the more I felt duped all those years. I started listening to atheist voices (even though I was never an atheist, I consider myself an agnostic now). Some of these atheists I listened to were nuanced and considerate of at least some religious sensibilities, but some definitely were not. Through all this though, it is kind of funny, I still felt bad for some reason when Jesus was maligned. To this day I still nearly wince when awful things are said about Jesus. I guess old loyalties die hard. I still occasionally listened to my old Christian rock records too, just because I like them. I still prayed, sometimes desperately, just hoping if there was ANYTHING out there it would let me know. Unfortunately, no great revelation was made.

So that brings us to today…and how do I feel now? Rather unemotional actually. Yes, there are still parts of religion I dislike, especially when taken to a literal extreme. Yes, I still listen to Jars of Clay (my favorite Christian group) and still don’t really like Jesus being abused. I’ve come to the conclusion I just like the guy, whether he ever really existed or whether his story was greatly exaggerated, I still like the guy. I find that there are still lessons I learned in the church that apply and I’m glad I was a Christian for all those years. Without it, I doubt I would be as sensitive and caring about social issues and I simply wouldn’t be the same person. I cherish the relationships I made during those years and all the people I loved. I’m not angry anymore. I’m still firmly agnostic, but am always open if some greater force wants to contact me. You’ve got my number God, hit me up sometime.

Pony Gods

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Pony Gods
Written By: Maranda Russell

I pray to the Pony Gods.
I don’t know if they listen,
or even if they care,
but sometimes
they do seem to answer.

Why the Pony Gods?
Why not?

I figure the Pony Gods
have just as much a chance
of being good –
or being real
as the human ones.

Fighting Fear

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“Fighting Back from the Inside” drawing by Maranda Russell

Fighting Fear
Written by: Maranda Russell

I took fear by the hand
and shook him until I heard
the sound of his yellow bones
popping in and out of place.

I pushed him down the stairs,
his skull cracking
against the white, stone steps
on his way to the finale.

He hit the basement floor,
his form a worthless gray lump,
emitting the mocking voices
no muzzle can silence.

Still, I must close the door
at least one more time
and pretend not to hear.
So I do.

Self doubt

Do any other authors out there struggle to believe that what you write is actually worth writing?  For the past few months I’ve been able to make a fairly successful living off of my copywriting and ghostwriting clients, plus I have had publishers show real interest in my creative writing, however, I still doubt every day that I will be able to write anything other than a page full of nonsense. 

It’s almost like I fear that talent is like an ancient muse who will simply show up and leave whenever he wants to.  I don’t trust myself to succeed.  Every day I take at least two assignments from clients, and with each one I doubt that I will be able to complete the work to their satisfaction.  This fear makes no sense, after all, I have never had a client reject my work or rate it poorly, and many of these clients are returning customers who have purposefully sought me out because they like my style.

Is doubt something that accompanies creativity?  Do artists and musicians experience the same kind of distrust?  I sincerely hope that I’m not alone.  I worry sometimes that I am just some neurotic soul with an inferiority complex.  Maybe the fact that I actually worry about being neurotic makes me even more so…