Writer In The Dark

Earlier this week, Lorde [1] released her sophomore album, Melodrama, and at least from what I have seen the reviews are pretty good.  I must admit I hope to review the album at some point myself, as I find confessional albums from creative and talented artists to be something right up my alley as a reviewer.  Without a doubt this is at least partly due to the fact that I consider myself to be sufficiently confessional as a writer myself to be able to relate to and appreciate the works of other people of my own kind.  Among the songs of that second album is one called “Writer In The Dark,” which is certainly something I can relate to, the concerns that people have about being close to those who are going to turn interactions and reflections into public writings.  Not everyone is willing to be close to a writer in the dark because one’s words and actions, interpreted through a filter which may not always be either accurate or friendly [2] will at some point find their way into the harsh light of day.  Not everyone is willing to live under that sort of stress and that sort of potential loss of privacy.

What is it that makes artists that causes this sort of problem?  I do not consider myself a particularly original person, but I am remarkably sensitive to the influences around me, and find that many of the more artistic people I know are similarly sensitive and somewhat high-strung people.  Being open to the patterns and influences that exist around us, whether we are appropriating the works of others, or whether we are being inspired by life or our surroundings has a way of making us less able to block ourselves off from the world around us.  I find often in my own personal life that a great deal of the creative work I am engaged in comes from being present in various moments.  Yet that opportunity is also a vulnerability, because being present in the lives and situations around you also gives you an emotional investment in those lives, and often that leads to a great deal of unhappiness because one may be invested in people differently than they may wish to be invested in you.  To have porous boundaries between one’s heart and mind and the outside world means that what is inside of us can more easily get out, but it also means that the outside world can more easily get inside of us, and that is not always a pleasant situation.

Yet there appears to no way to avoid this problem.  We cannot close off our vulnerabilities without closing off the source and wellspring of our creation.  We cannot be present in the lives of others without allowing them some presence in our own lives, even if we know that we may end up haunted by the experience.  We cannot long for intimacy without recognizing that other people may be terrified of what they see inside of us when we let them, or without recognizing that we may long for affection and love but at the same time be terrified to let anyone close enough to us.  I am in the process of reading a book that attempts to comment that suffering is not required for “real” art.  Life in a fallen world, whether we are artists or not, leads to more suffering than most of us can deal with very well.  Whether or not I had ever become an artist, I would have suffered far more than I would wish upon anyone else.  The only difference is that as an artist I attempt to transmute the suffering and torment of my existence, of which there is plenty, into something beautiful and noble and lasting.  It is not being an artist that has made me suffer, but being an artist that has allowed my suffering to have some purpose and some use for other people.

And that is the answer to the conundrum that writers face.  One ought to be careful about what one says or does to a writer in the dark because that which is in the dark will eventually be brought into the light.  It may be brought into the light by our own free will, and through our own deliberate and creative impulse.  It may be brought into the light by our blundering and accident.  It may be brought into the light by the wicked whispers of an enemy seeking to bring shame and disrepute onto us.  It may be brought into the light by God in judgment.  But it will at some point be brought into the light.  A writer in the dark is merely a soul seeking love and intimacy and pleasure while unconsciously gathering material for future creation.  One cannot enjoy the warmth of the creative flame of the artist without being in some danger of getting singed in the process.  To live and love at all requires that we accept at least some risk, and that is true regardless of what sort of artist one is, or what sort of role one wants to have in the life of such a creative individual.

[1] See, for example:




[2] See, for example:



About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Writer In The Dark

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    One great writer said that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. We’re not certain about that while we’re going through the agony of love lost and the tormented vulnerability of a broken heart. Yes, we can use our suffering for the benefit of others and we become more empathetic to others who suffer, but the pain is intensely personal and it can isolate us. Speaking for myself, it made me wonder if opening myself up again was worth the possibility of suffering that gut-wrenching sorrow again, for it is a lonely road. Even though God’s spirit allows us to lift our heads up and realize that we don’t walk it alone, we still must travel through the grief that is part of the human experience.

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