Making art is supposed to hurt. If it doesn’t hurt, dig deeper.
I close most of my workshops with this line. I don’t know if I got it from somewhere (though a quick Google search turned up nothing) or if it’s my own, but it’s true. Writing, painting, composing, whatever, is supposed to be an expression of your soul. “Here,” I say. “Here is a piece of my soul. I cut it out and shaped it with every tool I have. The gap where it was will never close over. Now I am giving it to you. Take it, because it is all I have to give.”
As for writing, writing is about transformation. The characters, the readers, and the writer all change through the process. It hurts. It’s supposed to hurt. Nothing worthwhile is without struggle.
You say it doesn’t hurt? That means that you haven’t reached your potential. Dig deeper. Draw from your dark places and drag them into the light. Hurt them. Help them. Tear them apart and stitch them back together with a rusted needle.
So yeah, writing is a dark and painful process. All art is. It’s no wonder that so many artists deal with mental illness and substance abuse. To some it’s the source of the art, to others the symptom. To me, it’s both.
Since writing is such a dark and painful process for me, I have to consciously try to keep the rest of my life light-hearted. You see some of it here. I post a lot of funny memes, telling awful jokes, etc. That’s pretty much how I am in the real world too. I’m all jokes and references and kind words. It’s the only way I can balance things. If I don’t, I’ll be consumed by those demons I keep trying to pull into the light.
But I am not an internally cheerful person. I end up having to fake a lot of it to keep my sanity. It’s strange to say, but pretending to be cheerful saves me. Yet I kinda hate myself for it.
If i was to just let go and “be my authentic self,” I don’t know what would happen. Or maybe what I think is my “fake self” authentic too, but I don’t realize it. Not that it really matters. Art is fake, but it tells the truth. Maybe the cheerful mask I wear is my real face. Maybe I have no real face, and they’re all masks. Maybe I’m a man of masks, peeling away layer after layer to reveal…nothing.
Shit. Soul searching hurts. Writing hurts. Here’s a meme to balance it out :p