Gremlins: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore
Named for writer Marshall Mathers III (a/k/a Eminem), this recipe encourages you to embrace, not censor your dark side. With millions of records sold, Eminem has created a notable career writing about his troubling family-of-origin, young adult poverty, divorce, grudges and rage.
This recipe came about because I wanted to deliberately practice transmuting trauma and the dark regions of my heart and psyche into something useable. I wanted my writing to be more than whining, and my visual art to have edge without scaring me witless.
Years ago, I worked with an art psychotherapist who encouraged me to write and create visual art as conduits for processing trauma. Listening to Eminem’s body of work was a model, among many, for understanding how to explore the nether regions of my psyche.
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· Family dysfunction
· Life setbacks
· Revenge fantasies
1 minute to choose a primary ingredient from the list.
30 minutes to let it simmer on the page.
If you are scared, frustrated, bewildered or angry, write about it. Fantasize about doing stuff you’d never do in real life? Do it in fiction. Cultivate the art of creating from life’s underbelly:
· Family Dysfunction: Actor Robert Redford launched a stellar directing career with taut dysfunctional family drama, Ordinary People, from screenwriter, Alvin Sargent, based on Judith Guest’s novel.
· Poverty: Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
· Drug Addiction: A Million Little Pieces, James Frey
· Homelessness: The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Gardner
· Child Abuse: The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
· Alter Ego: Mathers writes from the voice of “Slim Shady,” his dark side. Beloved children’s novelist J.K. Rowling writes a detective murder mystery series for adults under the pen name Robert Galbraith. Though Galbraith’s identity is not secret, this literary alter ego allows Rowling the freedom to pen dark subject matter universally deemed inappropriate for children.
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From author and writing teacher Natalie Goldberg: “No one ever died of writing in her notebook what is hidden or dangerous. You might cry – or laugh – but not die.” Rather, eating gremlins for breakfast has been a productive strategy for writers and artists through the ages:
Painter Sol LeWitt’s behest in a letter to fellow painter Eva Hesse: “If you fear, make it work for you – draw and paint your fear and anxiety…”
Advice from Pioneering psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s to a former client for processing the activity in the deeper and sometimes frightening parts of her mind:
“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . .”
“…I was learning how to go down into myself and salvage bits and pieces of the past. I was learning how to sneak up on the unconscious and how to catch my seemingly random thoughts and fantasies…Gradually I began to realize that none of the subjects I wrote poems about engaged my deepest feelings, that there was a great chasm between what I cared about and what I wrote about. Why? What was I afraid of? Myself, most of all, it seemed.”
“It took me years to learn to sit at my desk for more than two minutes at a time, to put up with the solitude and the terror of failure, and the godawful silence and the white paper. And now that I can take it . . . now that I can finally do it . . . I’m really raring to go.”