Creation or Recreation

. . . and the Pulitzer goes to _________

. . . and the Pulitzer goes to _________

I’m an artist–an artist of many arts.  I paint, play music, create children’s lives, interfere in others.  But mainly I write.  I guess I could own up to being a creative person, but I think we’re all creative, so that term doesn’t say much about me that is any different, unless it’s that I’m not afraid of the label.

When I read an article about wrestling with our “two angels” while we write (the angel critic and the angel of gifts), it occurred to me that it is difficult to keep going with the river down to the ocean (paraphrasing Annie Dillard very loosely).  I’m more of a toe dabbler.

I’ve always written toward the ocean by trailing my toes and fingertips in the high mountain streams–this particular article said we need to embrace the angel critic–the one that says what we have to say isn’t any good or interesting to others–and then wrestle the angel of gifts to the ground to get down to the ocean of us.  Interesting metaphors and I’m always looking for metaphors.

Conversely, being a writer doesn’t necessarily free me to say what I want to say. In fact, sometimes it complicates it more, and I am forever looking for examples of what I really mean.  Perhaps this is my way of just dabbing my toes into the creek, next to my house, while playing a video of the ocean.

Another metaphor is that of “art imitating life” or vice versa.  I have painted in both oils and watercolors.  In oil painting, the darker pigment is put on first, followed by consecutive layers of lighter paint to highlight and add dimension.  In watercolor, it is the opposite.  You must begin light (or by leaving bare places on the paper) then lay on darker tones, being careful to expose the light as you see it. Oil pigment is opaque and water color is transparent.

How does that relate to my life?  I look backwards and see the dark.  Years I spent either in the angst of adolescent and teens or as a young adult who was filled with emotional despair.  I abused drugs, alcohol and people’s emotions, including my own.  When I write about my life, do I begin with that darkness and lay on layers of lightness that came after through self-illumination, education and just plain growing older, or do I begin lightly as with water color and stroke on the darker layers through flashback–today’s results of yesterday’s decisions.  I approach my story both ways, and sometimes I cover the entire image with darkness letting only the outline remain.  That story is flat and lifeless.  Yet the watercolor method, lets me procrastinate by making my consecutive layers bland and careful.

And what is the difference in telling about my life and in living it?  If I continue to reinvent it through writing, am I practicing the parts I didn’t like or seeing them more clearly.  I’m learning by much of it, but I fear falling right into the paint can of darkness, so I still sometimes use light strokes.  Maybe this is just my angel of gifts telling me I’m not quite ready for deep sea diving–keep snorkeling and toe dabbing.

What is this piece?  I think it must be an essay–it’s true and it’s my opinion.  That seems to fit–and sometimes I get the best picture just throwing the paint on and looking at it later to see the picture it made.

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Published in: Uncategorized on September 15, 2009 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

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