Do You Suffer For Your Art?

Today I start work on a new project, tentatively titled Heartbroken and Grieving. (An hour and 13 minutes have elapsed since writing the first sentence of this blog entry and the second; procrastination is a formidable opponent.) It is something I have been thinking about for months but ‘thinking’ isn’t the same as ‘doing.’ And even now that I have resolved to do it, there is still considerable resistance.

Heartbroken and Grieving is essentially about love and loss – unrequited love. It is a memoir. It is about a dream I once envisaged that didn’t materialise. It is about the grieving process, grieving that person as much as the idea of you and that person. It is about the whole journey, all the little details. Even sitting here now writing this blog entry over a salad with tuna in it, I am reminded of that person. (They were a vegetarian. I doubt they would approve.)

I’ve often recorded important aspects of my life online – in blogs and videos, particularly. Because of this I have a lot of source material for this project. Though frankly I am scared to revisit it. I feel that enough time has passed that I am in a really good place, mentally, with regards to this experience. I have a new perspective garnered over a couple of years. Though I am still fearful of getting sucked back into that emotional black hole. And so I wonder…

Do you suffer for your art? I cannibalize emotional experiences in my life to produce things. Sometimes wonder if there isn't a better way.

I don’t want to misrepresent myself here. I don’t do things like this out of a need to be masochistic. Ultimately these projects do offer me clarity. They are frequently cathartic. When I was younger I bottled every emotion I ever had up inside. Eventually I came to understand that spilling out onto the page could keep me sane.

But there are still moments when I wonder why I’m not say drawing a comic about a cat who likes pizza and coffee. Not that I’m implying that’s easier, but I imagine it would be a lot less emotionally taxing. (Pizza and coffee have never made me question my self-worth or inspired any personal aneurysms.)

So… do you suffer for your art?

1 comment… add one
  • Yes, and I used to try so hard to avoid that part of it. But without the suffering there’s not much for readers to relate to–you need the contrast of suffering to feel the joy. I used to try to skip the conflict and go right to the happy times and the resolution and just write joyful stuff but every teacher I ever had always said the same thing. “You need conflict.” And writing conflict makes me suffer. Good luck revisiting The Vegetarian. I have a feeling it will be worth the suffering.

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