Thursday, November 4, 2010

Artist+Mother =?

I have begun working on Nephil's Curse again, struggling as I assume all writers struggle with their characters. Characters who seem, literally, to be "born"...their motivations, beliefs, pains and fears, loves, hates...all as realistic to me at times as you, dear reader, would be sitting before me with a cup of tea in your hand. I find myriad aspects of myself rising to the surface more and more as I face this second installment of the Psyche's Gate Saga: the painter, the learning tattooist, the female and would-be mother. This can be both a hinderance and a blessing.

My current struggle is ultimately bringing realism into a very important relationship: the dynamic between Rose and her mother, Psyche. Complex on so many levels, describing and making real the relationship between child and artist mother may be one of my greatest challenges yet.

Without "spoiling" too much, I feel that I can safely say that much of Nephil's Curse will include back story: telling the tale that happened between Psyche's Gate and this, the second novel in the series. Back story chronicling Rose's early childhood, growing up in a primarily single-parent household because her father is forbidden by his Superiors to be around much.

Of course there is the fantasy, the supernatural/paranormal aspect of things. There is Rose as a Nephil, an extraordinary being that in many ways is not like an average human child (her stunning beauty nonwithstanding). From the moment of her daughter's birth, Psyche is instantly thrust into the struggle of raising a child who posesses unnatural strength and supernatural powers beyond a mortal's understanding. Perhaps Psyche's artistic temperament will allow her to deal with Rose's unnatural abilities more easily than the average mother would?

And then there is trying to flesh out Rose's experience: that of a child being raised by a mother posessed with the obsessions and urges of an artist. That tendency to slip into one's own mind. To surround oneself with the "painter's bubble"; the intensity, the drive that draws all attentions to the creation at hand. Would what Alexius fell in love with, his "piece of the Creator on earth", be a challenge for a little girl in some way? Certainly Rose (as was evinced in the novella Black Dog and Rebel Rose) looks back on her mother with a fierce adoration that can only point to Psyche being a very natural and loving parent.

But when Psyche looks at something, she will see it as an artist sees it. The artist's brain so often requires the spontaneous, the siezing of the moment and not letting that escape. So much of Psyche's energy will go into that focus...will that mean that Rose, in at least a small sense, will have lost her mother to the canvas? Or will that loss translate in Rose's memory as the gaining of a friend and a true inspiration, an echo of adoration from her childhood?

 I already know that Psyche did a series of paintings and drawings depicting Rose in this "backstory" period...a painter trying to capture her unique child's extraordinary beauty and spirit. To capture the arresting intensity that Alexius, that renegade warrior celestial, bred into his offspring. Is Psyche shaping up to be a contradiction? Has Psyche contributed to Rose's sense of being fragmented, inexorably torn between two worlds? Perhaps so...

The challenge remains, as all artistic and everyday challenges refuse to depart...that of tattooist-in-training, writer, painter, wife, friend, daughter, sister, housekeeper (noble attempt), juggler of two+ challenge is Psyche's challenge, Rose's challenge, Skriker's challenge...the character becomes thee...or perhaps I become the character. Perhaps this challenge is ultimately allowing me to survive, to breach the waters of their world and gasp for anxiety-free oxygen?

An intriguing link to check out:


  1. Hi Dani -
    Great essay/blog!
    (You are probably the character and the character is probably you - lol.)

    I can see I'll never run out of good books to read! :D

    Lea Ellen

  2. I'd say 99% of the Mothers I helped birth were artist in some form. Sculptures, painters, yoga instructors, military women, when natural birth is allowed their doesn't seem to be a difficult transition. Something to think about is she born. Is it traumatic, which will have deep metaphysical repercussions in this existence, or was it a 'normal' birth, strapped to a hospital bed tortured with the sound of your child's thundering heart beat because of all the medications pumped into her body, or was it as nature intended? Natural, with pain but a bonding moment.

    I'd start talking to artist that have had babies.
    Truth is often stranger then fiction.

    You must also consider, what mediums does she give up? All of my painters gave up oils while pregnant and nursing. Too toxic.

    You should check out UCSD's doula program and walk on the floor up there. Its something that has to be experienced.

    My own ideals of how birth proceeds changed after being there, with a woman bent on her knees as I rubbed her back, and the midwife waited for her to do what for 250,000 years of female ancestors have done before her.

    Its a subject I've delved very deeply especially when dealing with Rowan's birth. A natural breech is never easy.

    Good luck, and there is nothing like truth to add to your fiction.
    Right what you know!

    ~C.S Grable


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