Monday 22 February 2021

Inspirations VIII - A Personal Insight into Writing by Anita Reff

    Why write? 

    As far back as I can remember I’ve been driven by creativity. But not just a, ‘gee it’s fun to be creative’, kind of thing. I have a genuine need to be creative. To have an outlet. Without it, I think I might explode.
    As a child I remember being incredibly shy. I also remember having an imagination that sometimes blurred the lines between make believe and reality. My mind took me to incredible places and I would swear to this day that as a child I could fly. I have vivid memories of me weightlessly floating in the sky. Effortlessly moving around the yard and watching the world below. If I close my eyes, I can go back there. See the world from above. Watch parts of my life unfold like a movie, seen from a vantage point overhead. It was a gift. 

    But was it real? 

    At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it opened my mind and it gave me my first creative outlet. It was like a release valve in my head that allowed me to blow off trapped steam in my brain. It allowed me to achieve a state of equilibrium. It allowed me to function. 

    Throughout most of my life I have been drawn to anything that allowed me to ‘release the valve’. As a child I developed a love of singing, physically forcing air out of my body and making, if only occasionally, something that was pleasant to listen to. In 1973 the movie Jesus Christ Superstar was released and gave birth to my intense love of musical theatre. I listened to the soundtrack ad nauseum, likely driving everyone else crazy. I sang every part, Jesus, Judas, Mary Magdalen, even the high priests. To this day I know every word of that soundtrack. Singing those songs at the top of my lungs, playing each of the characters, helped me to release emotions that were trapped inside of me. The intensity of it all tormented me and at the same time brought me more joy than I could bear. The angst of being a pre-teen. The need to fit in. The fear that you never will. The inability to express all the emotions that get bottled up inside. Music became my best friend. 

    But if music brought me joy, theatre brought me euphoria. 

    Embodying a character. Wrapping myself up in someone else's skin. Becoming that person, if just temporarily. Expressing things that I could never express as me. Having permission to feel things I couldn’t allow the real me to indulge in. It was excruciatingly beautiful to be someone, anyone, but me. 
    Imagine feeling love as Juliet, desperation as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire or the naked insecurity of Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. The absolute privilege of stepping into someone else’s shoes, even if they were fictional, and exploring their innermost thoughts and feelings. Most importantly, coming out the other end a fuller, more complete version of you for having had the experience. 

    That is why I write. 

    As a writer I get to take off my clothes and roll around in someone else’s life, a life that I also get to create. I get to escape my world and become the very definition of empathic. What could be more magical? More worthwhile? More cathartic

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