Using Those Skeletons
The topic is:
Some people argue that creative people need “angst” to produce good work. Do you? What emotions drive you as a writer?
This is a two part question. First of all, there is the assumption that angst is a necessary ingredient for art. I’m going to have to agree with that. My agreement is limited and conditional, however.
Let’s start with examples that support the artistic angst assertion (three bonus points for use of alliteration). Two tortured geniuses: Vincent Van Gogh and Edgar Allan Poe. It is sort of a chicken before the egg thing in my mind. Both of these guys epitomize proposal that angst and art must mix. But do we think that angst is a necessary ingredient because of guys like this who happened to live tortured lives, or were they so amazing because of their suffering? Lots of lit on this very subject.
After Van Gogh lopped off part of his left ear (right ear in the portraits because he was looking in a mirror) after an argument with his friend, Gauguin, he painted not one, but two portraits of himself with the bandage. Why? And did the angst make his art better than it would have otherwise been? Hard to say.
Now, Edgar Allan Poe was all about the angst. I think he is one of those folks Archy talked about where mental illness is related to creativity. He would be a good case in point to validate the art = angst theory.
One of my favorite angsty Poe poems:
A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow–
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand–
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep–while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
So cool. Gotta love that angst. But it’s not my angst, is it? Which brings me to the second question in the topic: What emotions do I use when I write?
Well, as Leah Clifford so aptly said in her post on this topic, “EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.”
Having been trained in Stanislavsky Method Acting, I’ve learned to isolate emotions from past experiences and use them constructively to infuse believability into my performance, or in this case, my writing.
I have not met a single soul yet who has not endured suffering in one form or another. If I get to know someone well enough, invariably I discover that there are skeletons in his/her closet, just like there are in my own.
It is the trials that give us depth. It is the way we apply these emotions outside the event that makes us creative–not the angst itself.
Go on over and check out Kate Quinn’s post because she is next in the QT Blog Chain. The other members are listed in the link on the right. Wishing everyone an angst-free week.