There is a longstanding attitude that for an artist to be profound, to be able to tap into something deep inside, that person must lead a tortured, angst-filled life.
Being eccentric is helpful.
Curmudgeondry is desirable.
Vagueness is expected, along with an attitude of superiority.
Alcoholism, extremes in weight, isolation and self abuse come with the territory.
Writers love the quote from Hemmingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I can understand the appeal: I’m a mother and all mothers fight against martyrdom from time to time. There is power in sacrifice, nobility in giving to your own detriment.
There are those who would struggle with depression regardless of profession. There are people who are drawn to dark places. Are these people natural born artists? Not necessarily.
I would like to propose that writing is a joyous, exhilarating adventure.
Beauty can be an intense experience, as can love and joy. Intensity of experience doesn’t have to be wrapped in darkness, cruelty or pain. And writing doesn’t have to be a torturous exercise. It can be elating, transcendent, illuminating, full of surprises. Maybe because of where I’ve come from, maybe because of when I returned to creative writing, the process of writing (this is going to sound trite) is a treat for me.
It is a savory meal bubbling as you come in from the cold dampness of the day,
a garden that makes you swoon with full scents of late afternoon,
a full-body fit of laughter that leaves you wiping the tears from your face.
There are times when finding words is hard, when the intimidating blank page dares you to make a peep into its cavernous maw. But nobody said your writing had to arrive perfectly, pristine in the first attempt. And when the words begin to flow, and they will flow no matter how you feel about that prospect in the slow times, that flow is a river that sweeps you away. You lose track of time, lose track of your surroundings and step into the story, similar to what happens when you read a great book…except that you’re on the flip side of that mirror, the creator of those wondrous worlds.
And it will be glorious.