I think I am nearing an end in some literary paths. I've embarked on an inquiry with Plath that has lasted for just over two years. I am pages away from finishing her journals (and have set the book aside for various obvious dreadful reasons to keep from these tragedies being real somehow), and am approaching two-thirds finished in her letters to her mother, entitled Letters Home.
I've often wondered what it is exactly that reminds me of me in her life. It is by no means an association with her talent, but more an associating with the drive behind her desire/need to write her life. It is almost a vicarious life that my soul could have very well enjoyed (drawing a line at the 30-year old suicide). How I would have loved to attend Smith, experience publishing success as a juvenile, lived in Cambridge on a Fulbright, met an English husband, lived all around the world in writing colonies and finally feel somewhat settled in London with a child.
But I think what I most lean upon Sylvia Plath for is her having done what it seems I'm attempting to do...namely, live upon the artistic compulsions of my soul. To learn to be at home, taking care of the home, the husband, the children (eventually), and STILL finding voice, time, and outlets for myself.
She recently said something that has resonated with me the past week. I am a very young artist...as my dear friend said, I am but a sophomore in my artistic education. In this education, I am doing more observing of other artists than making of my own, which I think may be rather natural. I have never been one to jump into something without feeling like I learned the ropes, or at least knew how to act. In a letter to her mother, Sylvia mentioned that she had recently fallen into a similar trap and how her greatest mentor, her husband Ted, encouraged her to go the very source of art...nature. They took 5 miles walks daily, through the English moors and London town...observing birds, leaves, flowers - all manner of flora and fauna. Ted observed that making art that was engendered through observed nature was the only way to ensure that you were producing something original...not by reading other poets or observing other paintings (though this is also necessary). I've been trying to imagine what that means for me as a young artist...and this is my conclusion.
I must write. I spend much time in absorption of others art, but not in the production of my own. Here is where Sylvia's type A, highly scheduled personality helps me out. She planned her days and meals according to her writing time. I, likewise, will spend at least 1 hour per day in the process of creation...and an important distinction here for me...creation outside of my computer. I will pick up a pen, put it to paper, and see what comes of those hours. In addition, I simply must get outside more.
And perhaps for me the tragedy is not so much an untimely death (after all, isn't all death rather untimely?), but that I have lost my guide...and even more so, that she failed at this life. Or maybe it failed her. Either way, I feel deeply sad to loose her voice spurring me on to make this home life work. I therefore assume that I shall never fully be finished with her life. I shall move from these two novels into Ted Hughes books and poems, into Sylvia's books and poems, and find more and more biographies. I daresay nothing shall replace her own words of her own life.
Perhaps I shall finish a life she never could...in my own small way.