A FEW MAD FOOLS began as a way to save my own life.

 

I began writing the interview questions during a time when I was looking deeply at my own past in an effort to understand my present. I'd gone through almost three years of traumatic loss  (the pinnacle of which was realizing 7 years into my marriage that I was gay) and I was trying to put the pieces of my life back together. As I began to pick apart the cultural and family programming of my childhood, I realized how much of myself had been constructed for the benefit of others.

 

At the same time, I was experiencing profound writer's block after the debut of my first novel, and anxiety so severe that my chronic pain condition had become crippling. Nightly my depression skewed suicidal. In the midst of that turmoil, every time I went online I experienced a surge of self loathing when I saw anything writing related.

 

I moved across the country to start over. I tried to write. I couldn't write. I tried to understand myself. I hated myself. I read The Body Keeps the Score and started getting little flashes of how to listen to my body. I remembered what it had felt like to be blazed apart by a streak of pure longing as a child: the first time I sat in a dark theatre, the overture to Phantom of the Opera burning itself into my psyche; the first time I stood in front of a real Modigliani sketch; the first time I wanted to touch my best friend's skin and was so confused and terrified that I locked it away and never looked at those feelings again.

 

Excavating the story of my past, I began to see that my life had become a series of murders against myself, chipping away all the parts of me that I'd been told (explicitly or otherwise) were not good, not smart, not safe, not allowed, until all that was left of me was this anxious, cringing, lonely creature, obsessed with being perfect, with achieving, with never being punished again. 

At the same time, I was a newly published author who wasn't writing. Chronic pain meant I couldn't even hold a book open for very long, and as I tried to get a handle on my spiralling health I unfollowed or muted almost every author account I followed on Instagram simply so I could survive.

 

My only creative relief came from watching documentaries about artists or makers in other disciplines. A chef spoke about the near-insane bravery of the venture he and his team embarked on as they opened the restaurant of their dreams; "we were just a few mad fools," he said. I wrote the phrase in my notebook, something inside me saying yes, yes

 

I wanted to talk to other people like this. I wanted to talk to these fools that were mad like I was.

 

As I worked to reclaim who I was from how I thought I'd had to be, a set of questions began to emerge, things I wanted to ask other artists and makers about how they'd managed to become the people they are today.

 

I imagined a place where writers and creatives of all kinds could connect with each other in a way that had nothing to do with the latest twitter controversy or book promotion, a place where we could put our striving down and just talk about the universal questions: who am I, and who do I want to be in this world? 

This is the beginning of that place; I hope you'll join me in building it, one brave conversation at a time. 

ABOUT THE PROJECT

A FEW MAD FOOLS is a compendium of interviews with creatives in the arts that invites guests and readers to reflect on their relationship with creativity and their selves. Its goal is to increase the vibrancy and emotional health of creatives' lives.

© 2019 Ava Woolf.  All rights reserved. 

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