Oftentimes, a writing prompt or a spark of creativity comes to us as something unique that catches our eye in our environment, and it tends to be tied to a sense of pleasure. The scent of roses or baking bread, the vibrant colors of an ocean sunset or fall day in an oak tree grove, the sounds of a favorite song or voice of a friend are generally what many artists gravitate towards when it comes to their creativity. In fact, my chosen genre, Action-Adventure Romance, is often thought of as that, too. What else is there in a Romance novel besides the two main characters falling in love, as sappy or perfect as the author might make it, and you may think how totally unrealistic that is? If you’re not a fan of this genre, then perhaps you don’t know that not many of the stories are boy-meets-girl and they live happily ever after. Who would want to spend time with characters who are too far away from ‘real’ people, who don’t have problems that we, as readers, can relate to? Talk about contrived!
I’m itching to embark on the journey of penning my sixth novel, which will be the second in a trilogy. My fourth novel is now in print, and I finally addressed, in my Dear Reader letter at the beginning, what I believe makes my novels separate from most in the Romance genre that are out there. I choose to shine a light on the ugliness of society. Controversial topics such as the border issue, sexual abuse, physical abuse, alcoholism, rape, varying religions, corrupt politicians, as well as the greed and obsession of power that seems to permeate so many people in leadership roles, regardless of the society, are all issues I address. Some of these topics hold a personal appeal to me, others I have opinions and thoughts that would support both sides of the issue. I haven’t yet planned which issues I will cover in each story, as it seems to generate on its own as the characters are developing and the plot is coming together.
One only has to turn on the TV, listen to the radio, or pick up a newspaper or periodical to discover some of these ‘uglies’ that seem so pervasive in our society. Unfortunately, there are too many people who have first-hand knowledge of these social ills. If you are one of the few who have made it to this point in your life relatively unscathed by an unsavory issue, then check out the media, which seems to have a plethora of topics available on any give day. Depending on your general mood, it may take quite a bit of surrounding yourself with these ‘uglies’, or perhaps it only takes a commercial about the Human Society to bring your sense of justice to the forefront, your muse to jump on, or off, a soapbox. Sit with whatever has caught your thoughts, an issue that has sparked an emotion or a place for your muse to highlight words and ideas regarding the topic.
Soak in the thoughts, ideas, the sense of justice or injustice, possible solutions, and then turn to your medium. Writers and poets may pick up a pen or open their laptop. Painters will be drawn to particular colors and textures, musicians may be plucking something in a minor key (I’ve thought that these songs were naturally melancholy sounding), chefs will choose astringent and sour flavors, maybe photographers will choose a stormy day or black and white film. Perhaps the subjects will even change. If you generally crate sunny landscapes or animal sculptures, steeping in the ‘darker’ emotions, using colors or subjects that you don’t normally gravitate to will give you the opportunity to explore some of the ‘uglies’. A few of us will find that there are several topics that fire up the muse and force the normally smoothly flowing creativity to turn into a churning sea. That’s okay! This could be a chance to expand your circle of comfort, and it keeps your art from becoming stale.
Like some artists, you may find that there is more for you here, ‘on the dark side’, to use as fodder for the muse than staying on the side of everything being hearts and rainbows. It might be something that reignites a flagging motivation to create, or it could be a passing phase. Perhaps after a painting or a poem or a single meal, you might decide that you prefer the bright colors, the cheery pallets, the light granite versus a harder or darker stone. Remember, there is no right or wrong. It is all about observing life, all aspects of it, by soaking in the sensory information, filtering it through our lenses of perception, and then creating something, however short-lived, that is an expression of all that is, with a piece of ourselves attached.
I’m betting that you’ll discover something a little more about yourself. Do you prefer the hearts and rainbows? Do you find yourself with more excitement when you can expose an ‘ugly’? Will one of the causes take you out of your medium and encourage you to interact directly with an organization that supports your ideas of the issue? Check it out. There could be more to the joy of artistic endeavors than just the ‘happy’ stuff. If you’d like to read about a few of the topics I’ve discussed in my writings, visit my web site www.myjoyenterprises.com And if you have created a thought-provoking piece when you’ve walked on the ‘dark side’, share it in the comment space below.