So of course there were one or two perfect days of happiness when my new project seemed shiny and simple. The story rolled out in front of me like a red carpet, just asking me to take that walk. And I’m still walking, seeing where this leads, but just ahead, right in my path, I see a thorny bush.
Sure the roses smell sweet, and their petals are soft, but I know the prick of those thorns. There are places I don’t like to go in my stories. Places too close to my own mistakes and heartbreaks. And as I’ve been working out the conflict in this new story, up turns one of the worst times of my life, asking to be taken up and picked over for the sake of fiction.
Sometimes it’s just not worth it. For now I’ve put on some sturdy gardening gloves for careful pruning. Maybe I can somehow salvage that lovely bouquet without cutting myself to ribbons in the process.
And then there’s this ~ the way the universe works to put in our path what scares us the most. Breathe deeply, move slowly, tread softly. Writers are some of the bravest people I know.
I know you are right, Sharon. All the best work I do comes from the hardest places to look at.
There have been times that drawing on my own experience and using it in art has been quite cathartic. But, then, there have also been times when I haven’t created anything at all because it seemed like I needed to cut a vein and bleed onto the page (metaphorically speaking).
Infact the way I kind of conceptualise it is to think of Tori Amos and Kate Bush. Although they’re often cited as being similar, their songwriting styles are very very different. Tori draws extensively on her personal life experience, but Kate draws on history, myth, literary and even cinematic sources. Kate’s Hounds Of Love for example was inspired by both Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps and another film Night of the Demon. Similarly Kate’s Cloudbusting was inspired by the arrest and imprisonment of psychologist Wilhelm Reich (as told by his son in the book A Book Of Dreams).
And whatever you draw upon it’s all good fodder for art.
I’d much rather draw on my imagination or other sources than go to my own pain for inspiration. Much much rather. And I love Kate Bush!