Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The freedom to go deep

Have been thinking about the freedom to create. Eric Maisel is talking this week about social constraints on our freedom, the pressure we feel from others, known to us or collectively, to conform. And the psychological constraints that we place on ourselves, through conditioning or fear.

When I would read certain sections of my novel, Fog of Dead Souls, to friends, they would comment about how dark the scenes were, how violent they were, and how out of character that was for me. I found their comments interesting. First, because I read a lot of mysteries and police procedurals and enjoy that kind of fiction and so it didn't seem odd to that I would write in that vein. And maybe people don't know that about me, though I don't make any secret of it. Second, their assumption that my personality and my fiction need somehow to be in tune with each other. I think of myself as a rabidly nonviolent person in my relationships and my dealing with the world, but I am interested in those aspects of human nature. And while I didn't feel defiant about my writing on those subjects, I paused a little too long for my own comfort in considering their comments. As if I should reconsider. I didn't. I left it dark. But I'm interested that I paused.

One of the important freedoms we possess is to take our creative work in whatever direction appeals to us. To go deep, to look at our shadow selves, our darker sides, both the emotional and the spiritual. To paint black paintings or purple pumpkins, to present as realistic fictional characters that do not come from our lived experience but from our understanding and imagining of human nature.

When we listen to what others want, we give up that freedom to explore and create what is deepest in us, even though that might be scary. Here's to the scary.

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