Friday, November 28, 2008
No Pain, No Gain
"You can't be an artist without tragedy in your life," my mother-in-law said to me, one morning over coffee.
She was relaying the story of a young girl who went away to art school. On the first day of class, her professor spoke these very words to her. Naturally, she was quite put off, believing herself to be very talented. But you see, this young girl had led a very privileged life, without many worries, and her art evidently reflected it. (I'm assuming her paintings were rather one dimensional, and lacked a certain depth.)
The night before, M-n-L and I read SF's novel, Paper Tiger and were discussing how SF described the tension that is necessary for great art. Her novel, combined with the professor's story of the girl, swirled around in my overly-thinky brain for a day, and I realized that it was true. The only way to really evoke deep emotion in our stories is to have suffered at some level ourselves.
This same day, I had been talking to another writer about his rather long journey towards publication, and how, in retrospect, he could see how everything, good and bad, had prepared him for his eventual success. And I thought about life, and that where we find ourselves today is a direct result of what came before.
Therefore, if we view our lives as artistic masterpieces, our life paintings will be more beautiful if we have endured hardship. And the same goes for our writing. For some odd reason, I found it comforting to imagine that the harder the journey, the more beautiful the story. Not only yours, but the one you will write. And to endure pain is to grow in beauty :-)
P.S. That strange photo is me being overly-thinky while writing this post... and also playing with photo booth :-)