We often talk about artists struggling. Usually it’s said in a tone of financial struggle. That these struggling artists are trying to live off the proceeds of their art, possibly without the benefit of a ‘day job’.
We often take it for granted that some of the best artists have depression or some other illness. For a while, before I started writing, I used to think that because the artist had this illness that they worked harder, and produced better work, out of a fear that the illness would win.
The first piece that I ever wrote, came out of childhood bullying, and how that affected me up to that point, and where I saw myself heading in the future. Things have changed since then. It’s not a sad story, but it was born of that pain.
Now that I have immersed my art into my life (or the other way around, if you prefer), I know that it is true, and not true. I don’t work harder, and produce better work out of fear that the roller coaster is going to crash or explode one day. I think now that it is the illness which allows such artists a different way of looking at the world; but often it’s a realistic view – without the benefit of the proverbial rose-tinted glasses.
For me, it’s not a gift. So many people say about other artists, and one or two people have said that about me (often in conversation with me). In my own way I began studying words and literature as a child. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books, and how such simple words could be strung together to produce something so extraordinary. To evoke scenes so completely that I could lose myself in.
Before I decided to go to university, I had already started thinking about how to put words together to produce the desired effect. That first story that I wrote, it was for something like an assignment, for a women’s group that I was taking part in. And about the same time, I had discovered Wattpad.com, I was looking for books in the Android play store on my first smartphone. Some of the stories that I read, were incredible. Often, I still read wonderful stories there. But it is a website for sharing amateur writing, and some of the writing is pretty good – just needing some editing. Some is great ideas, but needing a different author. There were some that were terrible ideas but were beautifully written. (Please note that these are my opinions only.) And more than a few times I read something and said, “You know what? I could do that better.”
So I did. Or at least, tried. That was how it started, for me.
In the end, that was why I chose English to study when I made the decision to go to university, as a 25 year old single mother.
My struggles, with my own personal roller coaster, colour how I write on any given day. It colours how I look at what I want to write, which affects the perspective that I tackle it from, or the point of view that I use.
But, I think that the struggles of the artist (particularly with writing) are important, and that they do make for a better writer. And I think this because, if you’ve never had to take off the rose coloured glasses, you can’t possibly convey the emotions that allow for the suspension of disbelief.
It is quite possible that I have just rambled incoherently for an entire post. But maybe, just maybe, you see something that lets you understand the importance of some kind of struggle to an artist.