As my good friend General Baker said the other day, “There are so many demonstrations against the current economic situation it’s beginning to look like the sixties; you could lose yourself in all of this activity.” He has planted his feet in the struggle for national health care, as have I, in addition to anti-war and anti-ICE demonstrations. But as an artist I write within the tension of guilt from having to avoid all of this activity. This may be an unexpected response to your question, but I’ve been finding myself apologizing to all of my activist friends and trying to justify my absence in the organizing end of this struggle. I tell them, I’ll be a body in the demos, a presence; I just can’t organize anything right now. And I may not make every activity. The exchange is that no one can write my stories. I need to be quiet and moil in the sense that Carol Bly recommends as a way to find story. Then again I embrace the sentiment of the great Argentine writer Julio Cortázar in his brilliant essay, Don’t Let Them, “The poet or story writer’s most arduous struggle is maintaining the delicate equilibrium that will allow him to continue to create work with air under its wings without becoming a holy monster, a worthy freak exhibited in history’s daily carnival, so that his compromise can be worked out in the appropriate domain, where his foliage can put forth new growth.” I feel guilty about sitting at the computer worrying about words that may not have any relevance to big issues. But, it is this guilt that propels me to write. It is a justification. I must do this or be lost. In the end, I’m trying to maintain my humanity. General is right; you could lose yourself. And for what? Still, I march when I can in favor of HR676 because I am at the age when health care is a major issue. But then again it’s a major issue for all. My son and daughter do not have health care. And the war in Afghanistan is escalating. So I spend sleepless nights worrying about this stuff and wake up mornings full of the painful energy that wants to inform my writing these days. So though I am angry, I can’t use my fiction for anger because I am writing a novel about love. Go figure.

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