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At The Heart of Things


Creativity is an expression of some deeper part of our hearts, our brains, our life experiences and understanding of the world; it’s an extension of us, and the art we create with this creativity is very much a part of our entire being. Leo Tolstoy said, “Art is not a handicraft, it is a transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” When we share our art, we share a part of ourselves. When we share our artistic selves with another person, at the deepest and most intimate level, we create a relationship whose roots are planted in the richest soil of love, truth, vulnerability, and devotion. This is not to say that any other couples, any relationship without two creatives, cannot, or does not, have this. But being creative, and sharing that creativity via story, poem, song, sculpture, painting, acting, etc., comes from the core of who we are and when you enter into a relationship with someone else who lives in that same space, you both swim in the powerful, magical void of expression, observation, and, ultimately, creation.


Artists are often emotional people. It comes with the territory, right? Has any good art been made without some emotional ingredient at the heart of the recipe? Anger, fear, love, joy, sorrow…the list goes on. Sometimes the emotion is overt, like a story written in response to a social injustice. Sometimes it’s more subtle and the emotion doesn’t drive the theme, but is wrapped up into the components of the story. Jess’s The Dare Sisters came from observing three girls skateboarding down the side of the road, in the Florida Keys. That spark wasn’t the emotion, it was just that, a spark. The emotion came in the aspect of Jess’s love for Ocracoke, NC, and her memories and visits to the island. The setting is infused with love, and because of that, the characters, the story, all dynamically step off the page - it becomes a story. It becomes alive. The same could be said about my own books. Take Night Frights, for example. At first glance they seem like quirky, fun, spooky stories. What emotional resonance can possibly come from a haunted mustache? But there are a lot of emotions behind the scenes there. There’s the joy of this story’s impetus amongst good friends - the laughter and friendship. There’s my own childhood fears (no, not of mustaches) of the unknown, of the darkness and the things that go bump in the night. There’s a fond nostalgia for being in 5th grade, riding my bike places, not having cell phones, of library visits and tree forts. There’s a lot of emotion behind the writing of these stories, and the characters in them.


So what’s the point? What does this have to do with creative couples? Because we tap into our emotions so often (and so deeply), it perpetuates a cycle of life imitates art, imitates life. In other words, living in this constant emotional space helps us be better writers, and better partners. It helps us be better versions of ourselves. This is not to say that it’s always unicorns and butterflies. We certainly have moments where emotions get the better of us in a non-constructive way; where arguments ensue. We’re not robots, but that comes with the territory. Emotions are raw and primal things and unchecked they can certainly go Godzilla on you.


But that’s the thing, I think. We, for the most part, keep each other in check - both in our writing, and in life. Sometimes purposely, and sometimes without even realizing it. Author and artist, Shaun Mcniff, said “Creative energy exists in the ‘aura’ of the environment- the distinct atmosphere, quality, and ‘air of the place’. It has a contagious effect on people. When we walk into the environment, we know whether or not the energy is present. Most of us need communities as sources of motivation and vitality; and of keeping with the basic movements of energy in nature, people charge one another in positive and negative ways.”


Jess and I charge each other in that positive way, as do the other artistic and creative couples this blog will share with you. I’m a better writer because of her. I’m a better person because of her, and I relish and adore the energy we’ve created.


Energy and emotion are at the core of all things and for this creative couple, it is a cup we constantly drink from.


~Joe



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