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Hats Off!

121225_hatEndings are hard. Most people don’t like messy endings whether in fact or fiction. I prefer messy, or as I tell my students, Don’t try to wrap everything up. And then I add loud and ecstatically, Embrace ambiguity! Often they don’t understand. They prefer happy or sentimental. I prefer dangerous or sad. By dangerous I mean leaving the reader with something to think about. In this context danger is good, edgy, “off the beaten track.” It’s risky to end “dangerously” because you may antagonize the reader and even yourself, the writer. Endings are scary because they’re the last words you write and that the reader reads. So here’s my ending, ambiguous as it sounds. I’m saying Goodbye, for now.

After writing a blog post for The Writer’s Life every other week for almost a year, I’m tired. This is my last official posting. It’s been a hard decision for me. But it’s about my integrity as a writer. I’m done—for now—with writing on writing. I’ve discussed the topics that I wanted. I don’t want to repeat myself or manufacture ideas. It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say about the craft of writing, I do, but I want to expand my commentary. I’m interested in women artists and the choices we make; feminist literary criticism; gender politics; popular culture; performance art; playwriting and haute couture.

For example, I’m still stunned (in a good way) by the recent exhibit on hats, that I saw at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. There were, as listed in the exhibit catalogue, “…wildly plumed bonnets, silk turbans, sequined caps, Sarah Jessica Parker’s lime-green fascinator, a Darth Vader helmet and 250 other elegant and outlandish styles…” 300 hats in all. I couldn’t believe the creativity. There was a top hat made of burnt match sticks, and a Moroccan fez stitched together out of tiny multicolored glass beads. There were blown glass hats and Jackie Kennedy pill boxes. The materials were absolutely everything you can imagine: brillo pads, ribbon flowers, a painters palette, papier-mâché, tin cans, fish net, tulle, newspaper, felt, silk, basket reeds, buttons, high heels, sneakers and much, much more. The colors were way beyond the usual spectrum: fuscia, mimosa orange, cranberry, cerulean blue, magenta, popsicle yellow, egg yolk yellow, Bat Man black, shades of white, and violet of every hue. Many of them were designed by the amazing British milliner, Stephen Jones who one day opened a hat shop in London and bingo! all of a sudden he was making creations that never existed before for the tops of famous heads and non. He is now world famous. I kept asking myself, what kind of imagination thinks up these hats—each one a work of art.

My mind was so stimulated by the possibility inherent in the unmade hat that I wanted to fly. Create my own wildly impossible creations on and off the page. I want to take new risks in my writing. Go into those places that I’ve avoided all these years. Say the un-sayable. Explode the boundaries that inhibit me. But I realized that continuing to write a blog on writing was confining me to 800 words and to a particular style and theme, even though I tried to experiment. Reluctantly last month I wrote to the editor of Her Circle Ezine and said I needed a change. We came up with the idea of longer pieces, features, every few months, which is exactly what I had in mind. I’m going to explore topics related to women artists, although I don’t know what—yet.

This ending feels risky because I am saying “goodbye” to much more than writing a blog; I’m saying goodbye to having my work go out online every other week. To having a regular audience. To a writing schedule that grounds me while I’m teaching. And to feeling proud of myself for never missing a deadline. I’m leaving the life of a blogger with a sense of supreme satisfaction. I wrote what I wanted and learned a lot about myself. Occasionally, a reader wrote a comment that I always appreciated. Most important, writing this blog validated that I had something significant to say.

Now, I have to start over. Find a new topic and a new style. Writing features excites me. I’ll be able to go deeper and have room to explore questions that preoccupy me about feminism, vision, and making art. I want to know why some women are so prolific, writing a book a year. And why others, like me, write less. I want to ask myself and others what happens to the artist when she is not creating? I’m going to start dreaming big. I’m going to push the boulders in my head out of the way, and take a leap. So, goodbye for now. And thank you.

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Jyl Lynn Felman
Jyl Lynn Felman is the author of three books, Hot Chicken Wings, Cravings, and, Never A Dull Moment: Teaching And The Art of Performance. Her many performance pieces, include “Burning In Cuba,” and “Silicone Valley” about lesbian sex after breast cancer. “If Only I’d Been Born A Kosher Chicken” is available on C-SPANS’s performance series. She is currently touring with “Girl Kicks Girl” about her experience in Israel and Palestine. She can be reached at www.jyllynnfelman.com.
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