After years spent dodging the creative urge, over the last couple of months I’ve finally knuckled down and begun writing my second novel, so I’ve been spending a lot of time cocooned in my own little world, waiting for inspiration to strike.
I’ve always found that I’m at my most creative when I feel sad. There’s something about that emotion, something pure that puts me in touch with my innermost feelings, or some kind of essential truth about the world.
It’s a specific feeling, the kind that can be stimulated by watching a heart-breaking film or listening to melancholy music, a favourite trick of mine to create the appropriate mood for writing. It doesn’t have to be a ‘real’ emotion, it can be a construct, influenced by the tragic story someone else has created.
This sadness isn’t a feeling of depression or misery, but something else and it’s something that I’d love to capture in my writing.
I remember once reading an article in The Guardian that perfectly explored the connection between melancholia and creativity, as I understand it, but I’ve never been able to find it again. It’s a shame, because the author captured the essence of the idea more eloquently than I ever could.
For me, the most affecting creative art is about depth of emotion and meaning. A story is always better if it has an emotional truth at its core. It’s the sad stories, the tragic tales, that make us think about our lives and the world around us.
We all want to be happy, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place in our hearts for a moment of sadness. And if it puts us in touch with something deeper, it’s not an emotion that can be immediately dismissed.