Writing and Passions

This is a post that’s been brewing for some time but I couldn’t put my finger on just how to word it. Tonight I read a quote by one of my favorite horror writers, Clive Barker. (For those that know me, YES, I read horror.)

‘Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work.’

And I’m off on a tangent. I have a tendency to surprise people. People that have known me for years are often surprised by the little things I do in life … like drink a glass of wine or reveal that I’m a closet horror fan or use a swear word. Some people that is.

Other people, like Jamie and Anne, know better.

Jamie and I used to haunt the newest horror flicks while in college. I never went with anyone else, never talked about it with anyone else, and have never indulged since we both moved away after college. Gourmet food and horror flicks and intriguing conversation til late in the night … ah … Some days I would pay good money to have just one more of those nights.

Anne has known me since I was 13 years old. Some times, even though we haven’t seen each other much in recent years, I’m still pretty sure she knows me better than I know myself.

But honestly, other than those two, I regularly surprise people with some of my thoughts and actions.

Why? Because I have passions.

Passion is a necessary tool in a writer’s kit. Passion is what makes writing “violent and original”. Passion is the thing that makes life worth living.

I had a difficult weekend. I took my parents and went to visit our oldest and dearest friends in Colorado. These friends I’ve considered family for most of my life, one of them is dying. That may sound harsh or blunt but it’s reality and we didn’t want to stand over her coffin in how ever many days or weeks or months that might be and have regrets.

And yet, as we all said “we know she is dying”, I wondered exactly how we knew that. She doesn’t look any different. She has the same mind, the same wit she’s always had and yet, we all know the time is coming. We all know we face the loss of her in the days ahead.

Because she’s lost her passion. She’s unable to do so many things that the rest of us take for granted – dress ourselves, fix our own meal or even a simple cup of tea, go to the bathroom, crawl in bed at the end of a long day. She gets frustrated and angry and ultimately depressed by it all, and who can blame her. I don’t say these things to embarrass her or put her down but rather to make the point that sometimes having passion isn’t dramatic and big and “stick it in your face”. Sometimes passion is simply the ability to live as we choose.

Often when writing we fail to consider that a characters passion may not be advocating for the homeless or fighting gun control or one of the other myriad of controversial and dramatic things that happen everyday on the news. Sometimes our characters passions are timid and withdrawing – hiding behind a book, cooking a good meal, buying one chocolate truffle a day for a treat, watching the sun set over the mountains – but those are the passions that give our characters life and make them real.

Things like me enjoying a good horror flick, eating gelato, and talking til dawn while sitting on the floor of the kitchen … those are passions which keep me alive.


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