A post for which there are more questions than answers. And this, again, suggested by the extraordinary Kristina.

I’ve talked here about the method-acting approach to building a scene; the immersion, the re-living of past pain; the willingness to open ourselves to the difficult, the transcendent, the joyous in our natures.

But what of the dark side? The deep and glittering energy that waits in the hidden depths of the clear pool of ourselves? What good can we find in the dark arts (the non-Harry Potter kind)? Is love better for the creative spirit—or is loss?

Dear Kristina, an artist, puts it this way…

“I have one friend in particular who cannot draw when he is in a loving, happy relationship…yet does amazing things when going through a breakup! I used to tease that person about it until one day I realized that I, too, feel more passionate creatively when dealing with relationship issues/loneliness…and now I’m trying to figure out how to channel that passion the same way we did as actors.”

Interesting, no? The first understanding that springs to mind is the classical “no light without darkness” argument. But how mistakenly simple that is. Another answer that borders on the classical is a creative person’s need to overcome that inner darkness…a need so great that only the power of the creative act can overcome it.

I know that was true in my life. Painfully shy and awkward as a child, writing was a way of saying “I exist”; the voice that spoke for me when my own voice could not. Creativity becomes a way of equalizing the pressure between the full-inside and the vacuum outside. It’s a way of exercising control…of populating our lives with acceptance.

Creating anything is, by its nature, a solitary act. Which raises the chicken-or-egg-first conundrum: Does our art make us solitary…or is it merely that solitary natures are drawn to the creative act?

Perhaps one truth is as simple as this: the act of creating—whether writing, painting, acting—shines a light into that dark place; sanitizes it, airs it out.  There are creative people I’ve known, writers in this case, who cannot create without being miserable…whose misery fuels the misery which fuels the misery. What a way to live. Not surprising that many of these folks wind up drinking themselves to a slow death. Or worse. That is a contradiction to every thought I postulated above, I know. But….

For me, I choose to visit the darkness…to wonder at it…to harness the dark lightning when I can…yet, as much as this is within my control, not to swell there.

See now why this is a subject with more questions than answers?