‘Ave Maria’ Montage (from Modigliani movie) and the Process of Writing

 “Do you know that moment when you paint a landscape as a child and, when you’re maybe under seven or something, the sky is just a blue stripe across the top of the paper? And then there’s that somewhat disappointing moment when the teacher tells you that the sky actually comes down in amongst all the branches. And it’s like life changes at that moment and becomes much more complicated and a little bit more boring, as it’s rather tedious to fill in the branches…” – Alan Rickman

There was a time in my life when I took painting lessons. I remember the first time I walked into the studio of a local painter, wanting to take classes. I can’t remember what age I was exactly (if you ask me how old I am right now you’ll see me doing the math in my head before answering, I think it’s a glitch in my brain), what I do recall is that he sat me at the corner of a long table –where all the other students were drawing–, gave me a piece of paper and a pencil and told me to draw whatever came to my mind.

So I did. I drew a horse, and a cat, and a dog, I think some birds, a mountain (come on, what is a picture without a background?), and I don’t know what else. Thing was, when he came back and looked at the picture, his eyes bulged. He turned to me, an expression of astonishment in his face, and asked me if I had really produced that from my head. I answered with a simple ‘yes’ and he gave me a contented smile. ‘That’s impressive,’ he said. I had no clue what he saw in what, for me, was another stupid drawing that would go into the rubbish bin. He was a great teacher. He loved my paintings, even framing them before my mother came to pick me up because he couldn’t contain himself.

Maybe that was what scared me away from it, and I quit the classes without any real explanation.

Painting has been something I’ve left in the back burner to focus on other things.

Things like writing.

I’m currently working on the second book of my series and, as always, I’m finding myself tangled in this alternate universe I’ve created. Writing a manuscript, to me, is feeling my chest tight all the time. Like living with a straightjacket on me 24/7. I can’t breathe, I can’t think. Everything revolves around this story I’m making up. Every character is so real I can sit down and talk to them, shout at them, fight with them.

Crazy, I know.

I also cry a lot while writing. It always happens. Sometimes I have to pull myself away from the computer screen and just let it flow. Open the shower and cry my eyes out because the weight of it all is pushing me down with incredible force.

What I’m writing may not be a masterpiece, but it takes every cell of my being to make it.

It was easier to write when I was a kid. I’d just do that: write. Now it has all become this humongous process. The sky isn’t just a blue stripe across the top of the paper anymore, it’s far more serious.

It’s cyan. Not blue. It has depth. It has shades. It has movement. It has a life of its own.

Today I watched the movie ‘Modigliani’ and loved it. It’s about the painter Amedeo Modigliani and his rivalry with Picasso. However, it was this scene that blew me away since it shows all the painters depicted in the movie making the one work that will be featured in a competition. It struck home with me and I know that any creative artist will see their own creation process in it.

I often wonder if all this will actually destroy me in the end. Make me fill my pockets with stones and walk into the ocean. What I do know is that it’s the air that I breathe. And even if it, one day, decides to kill me, I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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