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"A generation forgetting its laughter is enslaved to its own foolish despair" - Shers Gallagher
One’s art should be seen as a fingerprint of their own passion, thought and persuasion, hinting of how they not only view, but also value, life and its rhythm and flow.
Whether another can see themselves in one’s art is irrelevant, unless the one is outright copying the other, which would be a pity because this is where individuality dies. Otherwise, we recognize our unique part that makes the whole. For there is some of everyone in each soul that walks this earth. We are all of the same making regardless of genetic makeup, belief and perception.
The universal perspective is a powerful one when the individual taps into its expression. Each and every one of us has something to give and much more to share.
There are the few who stand out, those blessed and lucky souls who shine brighter than the rest. But others shine just as well. And each and every spark together make up a fire that ignites our earth and causes it to beam amidst the heavens.
© Sherry Marie Gallagher 2016
The Artist at Play with Technology
When an artist is confronted with ever-changing technology
My first thoughts....
These are to flee from it all like musicians I've known and have read about in my youth -- those seeking solace from modern living that they find moves too fast and impersonal for their comfort levels. Yet, to sequester oneself from the world also means to miss out on alternative possibilities that only active members can be challenged with, as they are its players. And only those who play can win or lose the game. The true challenge I have found is not to let yourself be consumed by it all, as it can grind you up and spit you out just as easily as embrace you.
To quote Kurt Vonnegut: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend". In other words, be yourself and who you truly are will shine through. Write from your own experience and provocation, not what others want you to be, say or do. And as you do so, engage yourself in the contest of keeping up and remaining contemporary. Don't allow yourself to lack behind in the form, style and media of the day as you write your artist work - be it song notes, poems, memoires or masterpieces.
© Sherry Marie Gallagher 2015
When an Artist Meets an Artist
The Soul of an Artist
Where does the 'Creative Muse' come from?
As a novelist, songwriter and poet, I feel my soul speaking - often living - through my words. There have even been times in my life when others have suggested I was writing my own story. I even had one lady go so far as to tell me that I’d had an experience induced by past life memories.
I grew up in theatre when method acting was the modern trend and we young Thespians were drilled by those in charge to not just act out the lines but to BE the part. I’ll never forget the countless fuss, criticism and redirection till whatever measly little part I had became believable in the eyes of the tyrannical director. Looking back, I feel lucky that this sense of 'realism' stuck with me long after retiring from the ‘smell of greasepaint and roar of the crowd’. I’ve taken on this self-same approach in my work as an author who lives and breathes the air of each and every one of her characters, some of which aren't even human! Whatever I attempt to involve my readers in, I have felt a thousand times more while tapping into the creative muse, which is a wonderfully exhausting process. Delving into a project designed to make the reader experience what moves my heart and soul, it's my hope that I can stir each to hear and recognise my voice as they journey along with me and my characters.
Everyone with talent deserves their moment in the sun! Though no longer on-stage, I live for the brief encounter - that epiphany - when I open the door of my world and invite you in to live my tale right alongside me. And this, I believe, is the honest wish every artist - to move you as they are moved.
© Sherry Marie Gallagher 2014
Where an Artist Meets an Artist
The Revelation of an Artist
What makes 'GREAT' literature?
Great literature reveals to us the layers of the universe which are replicated in ourselves. We become able to see ourselves simultaneously as unique individuals and as individuals who disappear into grains of sand on a beach.
No living person accepts his or her humanness easily. People spend their lives either seeking meaning or seeking to run away from meaninglessness. Good literature uses unforgettable characters who are also trying to deal with the question ‘Why?’ to allow us to explore possible answers to that question.
Is life a ‘tale told by an idiot’? A ‘dream’? Meaningful or meaningless? Why do we exist? Great literature allows us to feel either our oneness with or our separateness from the universe. If a work affects us in this way it is excellent literature – no matter what critics say. If a work does not touch us it is not good literature for us, but it may be for someone else.
© Sherry Marie Gallagher 2013
How an Artist Creates
The inspirations of an artist
How do we 'CREATE' the something out of nothing?
Many authors agree with me that the first few weeks of writing a new novel or any kind of created work is the most painful of experiences. Yet, it’s the most thrilling as well. And it’s one of the very few times when I feel a 'God complex', or the touch of the divine, feeling what it must be like to literally create something out of nothing.
How exactly do my characters, my setting and plot appear out of the void, as it seems? Amy Tan addresses the subject brilliantly in her talk: ' Where Does Creativity Hide?' And I believe, as she does, that there is never a complete answer to this question. It's a question that my writing students have often asked me as well. They would like a pat answer, a formulaic process to put them at ease like a road map on their journey, pointing out and directing each step they take along the way. And I could give them one, such as telling them to make a skeletal outline or keep a diary by their bed. But I would be cheating, as I don't do these things myself. I never have, as I’ve found them such ‘finite’ attempts to reach a more ‘infinite’ quality I seek with my work. For me, the inspiration has always come as a Eureka! – a flash of brilliance - that comes upon me irrespective of where I am, who I’m with or what I'm doing. And I do admit that having something to write on is handy when this happens.
My first novel, Boulder Blues, was written as to remember a past that had remained with a lot of black holes still to be filled in, as well as a prompting by others to tell the tale of those experiencing, trapped in and living through the Counter-culture movement that hit the '60s-'70s youth culture like a tsunami. It wasn’t a biographical piece by any means. Yet, it captured the essence of the time I’d lived through as a young adult, my cultural surroundings and the people I mingled with as a performing folk musician and artist commune dweller. I did, however, want to preserve memories of a few very zany characters I’d known and loved, and who’ve since passed on. I wanted to resurrect their characters by giving them and their antics life in my fictitious tale. It also brought me so much joy mixed with occasional bitter-sweet memory to do so. I didn’t actually begin writing Boulder Blues until the death of an old boyfriend, a Vietnam veteran, whose name one day appeared out of the blue in the local newspaper. It was then that my characters and scenes seemed to come out of the walls and clutter my life, bringing flashes of memory with them. Sometimes I almost felt schizophrenic with running dialogues, as, in particular scenes, I found my characters running away with me. And quite often they just wouldn’t shut up! Magical experiences such as this continued to occur until this story was told.
So, was I creating my own life in this way? I don’t really have an answer to that. All I know is that, when this Eureka! happened, I was at a place in my soul where I was willing to let go and give my imagination free reign. I gave my characters voice and allowed them to speak to and through me. I even took on their beliefs for at time, as I truly relived the ‘60s culture while I was writing one of its many stories. In that way, I could almost call it historical though the tale itself was, again, purely fiction. Yet, during the process of creating something out of nothing, I discovered a buried youth that I had let out to play again. And that experience was a fantastic one! For a time, I had merged with my characters and become a part of the story itself.
In such away, I believe we authors tell our tales to bring meaning to our lives. And, thus, we create something out of nothing.
© Sherry Marie Gallagher 2012
WHY an ARTIST CREATES and COMMERCIALISM
Is creative energy dampened by commercialism?
To me it seems this particular topic can be a big struggle for every artist who likes to create for the sake of creating. Yet, when all is said and done, I've never met anyone who doesn't appreciate feedback. During the holiday season, especially, feelings are mixed while trying to sell one's product and/or receive kudos of recognition, whether one is a performing or fine artist, and not get caught up in the sense that worth is only by how it is measured and by whom. It's a dilemma for sure that requires a fine balance. I've even known musicians who've quit just when attention begins to reach an uncomfortable level, claiming it was interfering with their enjoyment of just gigging. Hmm, I can see their point, but....
As a storyteller, I think I'm at my best when not pushed. When the creative spirit fills and moves me I just pour out thoughts, words, images and feelings, which is what I like best. If another appreciates and/or buys my work, I'm always left with a 'child at Christmas' feeling. I'm astounded. And, knowing my personality so well after all these years, I don't really see that it’s really ever going to change.
Yet, what saddens me most is that artists have to struggle so with the pedalling of their art to just have their basic needs met. And as another mentioned, this is when we're driven to give into our more practical natures and make compensations for the lack of 'ca-ching'. Only rarely are artists subsidised for their work, and there are those few given notoriety for their talents. Some are luckier than others, and there are others too who are just plain creative craftsmen and craftswomen. Even so, too often the majority of talent is left underpaid and ignored. I'm all for more community support for artists everywhere. Some people have the slogan: Shop (fill in country)! I say: Shop our local artists!
And, honestly, the humanities seem the last venue that people are currently investing in. Rather, they're cutting way back on their life choices. Class attendance in the liberal arts and softer sciences have tapered back while people attempt to work more at existing jobs, menial or not, to bring in currency that perhaps has been lost on stock dips and realty investments. Work hours have been cut back as well as pay in some places, and/or extended with heavier workloads that are not as well compensated as before in others. Not to go unmentioned is the continually rising unemployment, which doesn't include the short-term need for workers during holiday season. Jobs being made redundant and contracts not extended elsewhere are still very much a part of our current global economy, which affects the way individuals invest their time and money. So, the question for many artists is: do I still create, economy be damned? And, if I do, do I still invest in quality regardless of pay, or the lack of it? It's a hard question with often discouraging outcomes, enough to dampen the creative spirit if not checked.
© Shers Gallagher 2011
Who is the Artist?
Through the artist’s looking glass
Composites and Discoveries of Personal Theme
I've recently been amassing stories, poems and songs that I’ve collected over the years. And I’ve done so with the full knowledge that such composites are typically not best sellers. However, the magic of doing so is in the discovery of a personal theme pulsating throughout – of common threads of ideas, literary symbolism and ponderings. Such awareness can be absolutely magical! But not only has this discovery been interesting, it has also proved slightly disturbing. How so? There are many areas in our being, I have found, that have grown irritated by an unwillingness to let go. Be it the memory of a loved one, personal triumph, defeat or even the inability to recognise and let go of the passing of youth, such memories are those we cling to until they fester within, such as what physically happens to one suffering from diverticulitis, which is a physical blockage in the colon.
During the process of accumulating what I call 'creative expression in written form', I've recognised so acutely all the places that I too have been lingering in and not letting go of. In a nonlinear world, you might say that this is where I dwell. And these are images played and replayed like slides and film reels of people, places and things that are no longer a part of my reality. Yet, they exist just the same as if they are genuinely there. I can see them, touch them, feel and even sometimes taste them. And they have taken up enormous 'virtual space'. Simply said, these are what the mind’s eye sees of lost youth and loved one’s passed on, even situations run and rerun that are no longer happening and haven’t occurred in a very long time. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with a healthy dose of rehashing the past now and again. It is the very bulk of personal history and storytelling after all. Yet, such feelings and emotions surrounding memory can be blinding, even blocking us from moving on and experiencing the fullness of our present life as we prepare for and anticipate what is around the corner.
In so many ways, I’ve found this act of gathering personal work into a cumulative body an enlightening experience. It has allowed me to see with clarity where I’ve been ‘dwelling’ – perhaps too long – and enabled me to hopefully let go of the virtual spaces that are truly no longer a part of my reality.
©Shers Gallagher 2010