Should Artists Suffer?

An interesting discussion I've taken part in on a local BBS deals with this subject. One of the members felt that all great Art (capital 'A' intentional) came from the suffering of the artist.

A fairly morbid interpretation of the craft, from my point of view. What about, I asked, pieces that convey joy and happiness?

This message poster stated that in his opinion, the joy they expressed was only strengthened by the feelings of pain from bad experiences.

I don't buy that. I've had periods of great turmoil in my life to date, both emotional and physical. I've lost dear grandparents and friends, I've dealt with heartbreak and sadness... it never impacted on my writing, though.

When I wrote Crashpoint, I was still working full-time at an electronics firm. I was happy with my circle of true friends (still am), had a lot of good things going on in my life - including landing the writing contract for that project... yet the work that I produced was some of the darkest, grittiest writing I have produced to date.

My take on what makes a great artist/writer: it is someone who can convey great joy or sadness in their work, even if they aren't feeling the emotions they convey at the time. Someone who may not even have the emotional basis for the feelings they try to show in their work, but pull it off convincingly.

©1996 by Jeff Boman

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Last updated July 19, 1998

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