3 Simple Truths About the Power of Art & Writing

Writing is born out of pain. Extreme pain. Really bad stuff happens and then people feel bad about what happened. So, they write.

And that writing manifests itself in sounding either dissociated from the world, numb from the pain or boldly striving to enlighten the world with newfound knowledge born from having endured the pain or sounding completely untouched by the pain which can sometimes be defined as denial.

In the writing that lends itself to denial in the writer, one can see, if looking deep enough, pain brooding in the background of the writing.

But no matter how what is written is written or from what point of view it is written from or from what point of view the reader thinks what was written was written from, the absolute best writing – compelling writing, that is – comes from pain.


Like Edna O’Brien says about writing in general, the best writing comes “out of the gouged times, when the heart is cut open.”

That’s because that’s when it is one of the easiest times to write. Oddly enough. There are plenty of moments in the dark pits of pain where sitting down to write isn’t practical. Crying in a corner sometimes is more practical than forming sentences.

But there are so many details I know not about that sitting down to write may be exactly the way a writer may spend his time in the pits of pain.

But in any case, ‘the gouged times, when the heart is cut open’ is one of the easiest times to write. It’s like crying. The tears and the words come flowing out.

And when I say ‘writing is born out of pain,’ I mean by the word, ‘pain’ not that incredible, lifestyle-undermining, fundamentally-life-flipping disaster is needed in order for writing to be the best kind of writing.

Pain can manifest itself simply as caring. A writer cares about what will happen in the minds of others if he should not write down something he’s learned in life.

For some, after having one’s world shattered so perfectly… a certain kind of apathy may come forth out of the depths of his psyche. And if he gets to that level, he just doesn’t care.

He just doesn’t care about how bad it looks, how amateur it seems, how much of a hack he may seem.

And not caring comes from knowing life, all of life, is out of our control. At least… we can rest in the fact that it’s not in OUR control. And don’t think I’m wrong.

Do you want to take responsibility for anything that really wasn’t in your control? It’s under control. But not ours.


At first, I thought to title this section “Art Is Created to Replace What Was Lost.” But what was lost can never be replaced. Only remembered. And different people have different ways and avenues and art forms to remember what was lost.

In my own writing, I wrote three screenplays within four months’ time once. It was during what I call ‘The Darkest Year.’ The pain I endured that year changed my writing style.

I wrote so flippantly about some pretty dark hurts through the lens of fiction that I do believe I had people worried about me. They wanted to fix me or my writing style because they didn’t like the discomfort in their own lives of seeing pain in the lives of others. Afraid of honesty, I suppose.

Especially in an art form.

In the saga I’m writing now that was born before the pain of The Darkest Year was born that pushes the saga forward today, I believe I’ve yet to find some of the best, afflicting, bloodiest, ‘gouged,’ ‘cut open’ writings in those screenplays I wrote in The Darkest Year to incorporate into the episodes of my saga, Beyond the Trial.

I think of the Book of Genesis, the Book of Exodus, the Book of Matthew, and so many others. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia,” Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited,” and so many others.

All these and so many more are penned, birthed, and brought to the world because of human pain, suffering, turmoil, sacrifice, anguish, and whatnot. Either they’re created out of actual pain or years after pain.

And perhaps a book may not exactly be a book made out of turmoil or one that speaks directly concerning turmoil. Maybe a lighthearted book is written for the memory of a child and his early passing. That comes from pain of loss.

Writing needs to be understood as something more than just words on a page, as something more than just books on shelves one can pick up, put down, choose, or reject.


We’ve gotten ourselves away from writing and powerful things in these days of the 21st Century. Yet sometimes in movies, we see someone having to find wisdom in a book covered in dust and in some revered place. Why is that, you think? Books have wisdom.

Some published writing is just deceitful and thus is stupid and are utter foolishness. Plainly said.

Writing comes from ‘gouged times’ and from when ‘the heart is cut open.’ Writing… wisdom comes out of a pain to think that others could come along and not learn to not make the same mistakes by not having learned the same lessons the authors learned the hard way.

The best writing edifies. And the pain brings meaning to writing. Pain gives birth to writing. Pain gives birth to all art forms, really.