The Writing Process, Part 1: Color

mosaicI noticed something recently about the colors of the words that have streamed from my head these few months. The versicolor spectrum has many lighter, brighter hues than my writing has seen over the years. The lacuna of the last ten years where I was entirely occupied in the life of a wife and mother helped highlight the change in the timbre of my voice. Looking back at the single young woman from this side of time, I am a little startled at the levity in the beloved writing that I have picked up again. Because for much of my life, I wrote from a very dark place.

There is a creative force to the darkness, hence the archetypal artist who seeks to express the drama of his despair. In high school when my writing was a way of repainting and processing grief and anger, I was drawn to poets and writers like Sylvia Plath who spoke out of emptiness and flat despair. As my faith and hope in God grew into my 20s, I recognized a troubling truth. While my work was reflecting more light, an enduring spirit of despondency continued to inspire my artistry in both poetry and song composition.

And I didn’t mind.

I was tasting the addictiveness of writing under darker influences. The dynamic is fascinating to me. But it is remarkable that after a decade of sporadic writing that has gathered dust, I rise to see the sun on my words. I don’t think the difference is so simply a reflection of my faith, which was in many ways stronger in my younger days. And deep faith does not leave one immune from crippling self-talk or depression, as many spiritual giants in Christian history have shown. Nor could it be a straight matter of the joy I have experienced with my family through my 30s because I have had more than my share of unwelcome challenges in that chapter. It is more the rawness, the edginess the Great Potter has sanded and sculpted of my spirit. The awareness of self and others, that is, the keen knowledge of my own weaknesses and knowledge that everyone is a work in progress so I can relax and forgive and enjoy my life more is the posture of the soul that has written this blog. I now feel like it was a copout to depend on the spirit of encumberance to fuel my creativity. Certainly life is a mosaic of the great occasions of change, surprise, happiness, and pain and it is the helpless business of the artist to paint these colors in his chosen medium. But I no longer gravitate to the dark hues in my storytelling – because I don’t have to. I find myself enjoying the beauty, redemption, transformation of my art as I explore these very elements in the poetry of life.