Pain, Art & Random Thoughts

Pain. There are a lot of opinions about it. Particularly in artistic circles. Are you sensing a trend here? Some deep thoughts? Perhaps. As may be obvious I have been thinking a lot in the last few days about the other things one considers when they have time to think. Usually life demands so much of us and gives us so little time for ourselves that we don’t get the chance to ponder things. During my time off from the blog, I traveled among some writers – or maybe less traveled among, than more went along for the ride. I went to new blogs, read, commented – took on the mantle of the persona of my other blog and experienced what it felt like not to be Writer Chick. It had been something I’d been planning for a long while, actually and would have happened much sooner, but snafus in the freelance department, friends having fatal accidents, then new blogs to push back the grief… And so on. Many things that ate my energy and took my attention. Many things that changed my perspective forever and whatever the previous perspective was I couldn’t tell you now, so gone is it, so never was, is it – not even a shadow remains of it.

So, I lined up some friends to write me some posts and off I went. It was a curious world to travel in, I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I liked it. I found it filled with wonderful writing and also huge egos, odd ideas, isms, prescribed methods of thinking and a lot of form over function – still the writing was awfully damn good and interesting and in some cases, exciting. Certainly inspiring and challenging. I felt a child among savvy, sophisticated thinkers, unable to divine their in jokes and witty repartee and felt like I wandered about this particular part of the blogosphere with my virtual mouth agape, jaw on the floor. An exotic and exhausting vacation – exotic because of the newness, exhausting because for the first time in a very long time I was able to just throw myself into what I consider to be my work. I have written nearly 30 pieces in the last week. Which may not seem like much to some writers but it was an enormous amount for me.

I became almost obessessed with it – and I do think some part of me was owned by it. I would get up in the middle of the night to scribble down this and that – I’d be in the middle of a conversation with someone and a phrase would leap out of me while I was trying to keep up my end of the conversation and still scramble for paper, pen and the words. Exhausting. Draining. Wonderful. And I honestly did worry that when I went back to being Writer Chick it was all going to go away and I would be dashing off memes and jokey lists once again. I’m sure there will always be memes and jokey lists here on this blog but I am also sure that I will not lose whatever it is I gained this past week. Perhaps it was the fruition of these many past months which began last November about seriously pondering how to be what I was, am – a writer. Where it all comes together in one crystalized moment or it could have been the company I kept during that time or a combination of both or something else altogether. No matter how many times a writer is asked where their ideas and inspiration comes from I don’t think any of us can really give the exact answer – from everywhere and nowhere, from all of your experience and the lack thereof, from all of the love you’ve ever felt and all the tears you’ve ever spent, from all the wonderful things that you will discover in the future. From everywhere and everything is now my answer to that question.

Sorry…I digress…yes, back to pain. Here’s the thing – there are many artists out there whether they are writers, painters, dancers, actors, poets, sculptors, and so on who believe that pain is a primary motivation for their art. And I was certainly among them because what is more exquisite than the sharpness of deep pain? And despite it’s awful attendant physical and emotional tearings one does feel alive during it. And I think it is this aliveness that brings this idea to the fore. I think that because great love songs are written in the throes of great loss, great paintings painted at the pique of despair and incredible dances delivered on searingingly painful legs that it is easy to believe it was the pain that forced the beauty through. But I don’t think it’s true.

I think that greatness in a person’s art, whatever the form, comes from all things, all feelings, all interactions and that if pain has any significant part in it, it is because the way an artist works through their pain is with their art. Sort of a Catch-22 I guess. I know when I am in pain it is easier for me to write about it than talk about it or even ironically think about it. It is easier to take that surge of enormous, white hot energy and pour it into something that will eventually, hopefully become beautiful. It is the proverbial making of lemonade from lemons.

So, for all my strange travels and foreign experiences this week, I think my biggest lesson is this: that I do not have to be married to pain to produce beauty. I do not have to have horrible hurt to have depth in my words. I do not have to own a particular emotion more than any other. They all produce that which leads to the thing we eventually create. It was a good lesson. I’m glad I learned it.

And once again, sorry for not being funny, as I intended to be. Though I will keep trying. 😉

16 thoughts on “Pain, Art & Random Thoughts

  1. Hey Ms. Chick,

    You made me smile apolizing for not being funny. TO FUNNY. Made me laugh out load.


    You’ve been real busy haven’t you. I don’t know what you artist do but you inspire me thats all I know. I will have to read this again coz it’s posh writing. I can’t always take in posh writing first read.

    My theroy is I get everything from nothing and I get nothing from everything. Is it any wonder I’m bloody mad. Smiling.

    Nice to se you back unfunny Annie.Hahahahahaha!! How funny is that. Hehehehehehe!!
    Always loving
    Di X

    It’s too funny, Di. You always make me laugh and smile. Thanks.


  2. ” that I do not have to be married to pain to produce beauty”

    Love this. So profound, so true, and so honest.
    I’m glad you took something for yourself this last week. Just as I am glad to have you back. 🙂

    Thanks mJ – it was actually quite a revelation for me – I’m glad you found some truth in it.
    Glad to be back – you knew I would be, right? 🙂


  3. Hi WC,

    That sounds far too much like one of our family reunions to be fun. I think I’ll adopt, “Blog ’till you drop” as my new motto 😉

    the Grit
    Oh Grit! Thanks so much for always making me laugh. You give me a gift.



  4. Wow! Okay, I think I have a lot to say here, so bear with me. When I was with LTR#2 I wrote, just for family and friends, under the pen name of the Suburban Cougar. They were my usual witty stories, but they were born of pain. It retrospect, it was a pretty gross 16 years. Then I broke free, met the Lion, and became the Urban Panther. No pain, other than the common relationship hiccups, rather mainly pure joy. What is really interesting is that all my family and friends from my Suburban Cougar days remark on how they liked my stories before, but LOVE my stories now.

    I have never bought into the suffer for your art concept. I think great writing comes from passion, whatever state of mind you are in. I am probably really going to get myself in trouble here, but to cling to “I am an arteest, I am in Pain, and therefore I am brilliant” is scapegoating pure and simple. I much rather go with “I am an artist, I embrace whatever life throws my way, therefore I am brilliant”

    End of rant.

    P.S. I am sending my brother, Alex, your way to read and comment. I think he will have some insightful things to say.

    Hey Panther,
    I like your attitude and have from day one. You’re onto something there I think. Thank you.

    I would love to meet your brother Alex and please do tell him to say hello and wave his hand if he comes by.



  5. I know of what you speak. I slipped into this alter-ego and am still having so much fun that it will be extremely hard to slip back into my old blogself if ever I decide to go back.

    Well, it’s hard to go back once you’ve become a super-hero, darlin’ so I do understand your trepidation. Besides, I know where you keep your mask. LOL. 😉


  6. Oh and btw, yes I am a shit. And luvin’ every damn minute of it. And you are extremely sweet for putting up with it.

    LOL – now I know you actually read my responses to you. I just like keeping it real, darlin’ – and I’m not putting up with anything – you’re one of my heroes and you know it.



  7. Don’t apologize for not being funny today. Your writing is so heartfelt and honest, and funny or not, I enjoy reading what you have to say.

    Hi Mrs. V,
    You are such a nice woman – I do appreciate your words of encouragement. Thank you.


  8. Funny. Not funny. I don’t care. Keepin’ it real. From the heart. Honest. Those are worth caring about.

    Thank you, 30, your words touch me. Honest to God, they do.


  9. Hi Annie [waves!]

    I’m one of those writers who finds it next to impossible to write when I feel pain. I’m the sort who gets overwhelmed by emotion and negative emotions shut down my creativity altogether.

    I lived in physical pain for nearly 10 years (due to a misdiagnosed yeast overload in my body) and almost never wrote.

    When I’m stressed or worried I find it difficult to write as well. I like be happy. A happy Alex is a productive Alex.

    I have learned, however, that pain can be channeled and I’ve done some pretty evil (but necessary) things to my characters when I’m in a bad mood. (Conversely writing a sad part of a story will always leave me sad for the rest of the day no matter how great of a day it is).

    But one person’s way isn’t for everyone – some people need the sharpness of pain to open up the inkflow, while others (like me and like my sister the Urban Panther) need the tranquility of happiness to keep the flow from becoming restricted.


    Bon jour, Alex! (waving) So nice of you to come in from Paris to weigh in on this. I loved your post btw.

    Oh my, ten years? That must have been awful. Oddly enough, I had a period of ten years where I didn’t write anything more than grocery lists myself. I truly thought whatever I had was gone and anything previous was just a fluke. And in some ways, the situation was similar to yours – in that there had been a real killing of my joy, so to speak – but then aha, one day, it was back.

    I do think that any writer can write from any emotional point of view and in any condition if the determination is there. Though it is ever so much more pleasant to do so when you’re happy, I agree.

    Thanks for your thoughts. I must see what happened with the salmon. 😉



  10. Where did my comment from yesterday go?
    😦 ….. (shouldn’t probably be commenting from work 😉 )

    Ok, here again:

    You have no idea how much time I’ve spent pondering the pain and art question. Spasmicallyperfect was in a way an experiment to see whether I could create beauty from beauty, love, gratitude etc. Although I now believe that it’s absolutely possible there is a tiny piece of me who still believes that at least as far as writing goes, I do my best work based on a painful subject.

    It’s a great reflective post Annie. Maybe pain and art go so well together because when we experience joy, beauty, inner peace, gratitude one cannot really trump it, especially not with human words. With pain, suffering, heart ache however there are ample ways of beautifying it. And at least for me, it’s a way of healing.

    It’s like anything we create, most of it’s beauty and soul comes from how much digging we had to do to get it done…… art doesn’t come easy.



    I’m sorry, darling, I don’t know where your comment went. 😦 I assure you, I didn’t eat it or throw it away. I can imagine, knowing you as I do, that you have spent a good deal of time pondering this – most of us do, don’t you think? It is a common conventional wisdom.

    I’m glad you told me that about spasmically perfect, I never knew that and it gives me new appreciation for what you do there.

    LOL Spaz, ‘art doesn’t come easy’ You may be right, my friend, it doesn’t just as nothing else comes easy of any worth. But of course, I will have to disagree with you on the joy aspect – while it may be true that words defy one to describe joy, the absolute drive to do so may trump it. When I am in the throes of joy I crave to share it and at least try to find words that will help me to do so.



  11. “i do not have to be married to pain to produce beauty” … so true and while much of my life has been filled with pain’s sharp knife, i don’t think i ever created much beauty in those times … i think that moving beyond pain, into life and love and joy and bliss is much more conducive for creating beauty … but maybe, just maybe, one is able to see the beauty burn more bright achingly danced across vision when they have experienced pain. its a question that i have contemplated for more years than i can count, in different ways pertaining to myself …

    Hey D,
    Always the deep thinker, you. Sure I think that’s true – that knowing the pain enables us to feel the joy more, or more intensely or appreciate it. But I suppose you could turn that around and say the same thing. That having experienced joy, bliss, wonder makes the pain that much sharper. I think the bottom here is that if you are engaged in life, in touch with your own feelings or emotions than it is that engagement that enables you to create, that awareness of awareness – know what I mean?



  12. This is a deeply thoughtful post, Chica. And i think when you are introspective and share your findings with us, it is some of your best writing. i think you should always write what you want to when you want to.

    Saying that, i have to say that i tend to write more when i am deep in myself. And nothing brings me there more quickly or with more ferocity than pain. But thinking about your words and this fact of my writing process, i realize that it’s not just pain, but any intense feeling. It would seem though, in my case anyway, i rarely experience intense joy. It’s not that i’ve never, it’s simply that it has either not been so intense as to inspire much of my writing or that i haven’t been able to frame it in words.

    Another thing is the person a writer is. On my kindergarten report card, Mrs. Gardner noted my pessimism. i was five, how pessimistic could i have been? i recall sitting alone watching others climb the jungle gym and crying because for whatever reason, i could not bring myself to join the fun. Even then, my fear was looking stupid or silly…

    However, i’ve read many cheerful, happy offerings from cheerful, happy writers- and they’ve been good. i envy it and yet, due to my own negativity, my tolerance and expectation of pain, i find myself dismissing it all as shallow. For me, reality is hurtful which makes me a harsh reader. Happy endings? How droll. True love in a story? Gimme a break!

    i do not like this about my reading and writing.

    Hey Chica,
    Thanks for coming back and commenting on this – I appreciate your candor. Yes, intense feelings or…is it just that artists feel things more intensely? I wonder sometimes. I mean crap, I can get excited about seeing a butterfly and my friend Zelda just rolls her eyes. You know?

    I smiled about your kindergarten report – I too was a gloomy child – and I honestly don’t know why. You’re right, when you’re five, what the heck is there to be depressed about?

    I don’t know if I do my best writing from this place but I do know that whatever is going on with me, is what I write about – it’s certainly the most available stuff – it’s ripe and and white hot sometimes and hard to ignore.

    For me too, it depends on the writer, I’ve read happy stuff that didn’t speak to me at all and I’ve read happy stuff that had me giggling madly – maybe it’s more a matter of how true the writer is able to make it? And I guess that is the bottom line – that’s what we all go for, whatever the truth is, you know?



  13. All my writing life has been around addiction and recovery. The 12 step programme dominates that you write loads daily. I’ve been writing for over 20 years on that given subject with the 12 step lingo.

    I’m not a writer or an artist. I loved what you say about how artist work through their pain hence creating art.

    I find my writing flows when I’m feeling extreme pain or extreme love.

    ~~~~I do not have to have horrible hurt to have depth in my words. I do not have to own a particular emotion more than any other~~~~ I loved these words annie. Thank -you.

    I quess when your not a writer and you can’t really string words together to create anything inntellegent and beautiful, only in extreme pain or love.Writes can make ordinary situations and feelings extrememy beautiful. I can’t.

    Love & Love
    Di Xx

    Actually dear, I think you do a rather good job of it yourself. You certainly have the passion for it. I’m glad that anything I say makes you happy or makes you smile. Thanks for telling me though. I do appreciate it.



  14. Aww!! Annie. I’ve just wrote a poem for you. It took about three minuites. Just off top of me head. I have been thnking about writing a poem for you and have got a few lines scribbled down. I never used any of the lines. Ha!! I’ve never wrote a poem for anyone before. This is a first. It’s like a childs poem.

    Can I give it to you please.

    Oh annie your so funny,
    In such an intellegent way,
    I know you have a brain for life,
    and use it for it’s say.

    Your head must hurt with all that fulff,
    it’s quick, it’s smart, it’s beautiful tough,
    It’s loving, it’s caring, it’s giving, it’s true,
    I’m always in awe of that pesky IQ.

    My friend is smart she speaks for most,
    and for all her glory does never boast,She’s there for the taking so grab a look,
    I’m sure you’ll love her and buy her book.

    Aww!! My first poem and it’s for you Annie. I never had to think about it. Aww!! I love this poem. Thanks for the inspiration once again dear friend and thanks for your friendship.


    Well now, Di, that is the sweetest thing. I don’t think anyone has ever written a poem for me. I’m touched, really, I am. And it’s actually quite good. You see, there may be some talent lurking there. Do you see it? I do.



  15. ~~~~~~~ Many things that changed my perspective forever and whatever the previous perspective was I couldn’t tell you now, so gone is it, so never was, is it – not even a shadow remains of it~~~~~~~~ I love those words and how you write them.Thank you.

    I’ve got to come back to this being all touched like I am. I always worry a bit about to many comments,but when I’ve read something and it touches me I got to come back. I can’t help it.

    So here I am on my third in a row comment. I worry about obsession me having experienced obsession with my friend. Obsession with writing. I think I’m going to write a post on obsession. I’m all mixed up about it.Maybe I was never obsessed, just passionate. Hehe!


    I just wanted to tell you that I loved your words.

    Thank you.

    Aw Di, you’re so sweet. Never worry about talking to me too much. I never mind it. I like to talk. I’m glad that somehow my words do something for you. It is my belief that the best thing a writer can do is touch others in some way – you make me feel that I have. Thank you for that.



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