The Artist and the Monster


How’s this for a writerly metaphor?

Upon some early morning reflection, after I found that sleep was done with me for the night, this vision came to me of how it really feels when you’re a writer. And putting it against what I have experienced over the course of my life from the time I decided to pursue writing as a puny fourth grader, it fits.

How it begins…

Every child is born with a monster inside of them. As a child their dearest friend is this monster, and many hours are spent playing together imagining things that the adults would be horrified to know if they really paid any attention to their children.

But sadly, as the child grows, society teaches the child to put the monster inside a cage and to forget it ever existed. Which even more sadly, every child does for fear of societal retribution. Most are able to forget their monster and move on, but those destined to be writers or artists of any kind are always aware that the monster is still there.

Some never are brave enough to face the monster ever again, and so they force themselves to move on in spite of what they know deep down. But those that are brave enough face another path that is crucial to the survival of their soul, but the most dangerous path they can take.

It starts timidly, as the braver souls come by every so often to visit the monster and poke a stick through the bars. This irritates it, and it starts to thrash and then pace in it’s cage until the artist backs off. Then the monster sleeps, for years sometimes, until they come back to poke it again.

Over these years, the artists start to realize that the monster isn’t that big and terrifying as they once thought. And then they start to entertain wild and crazy thoughts like what would happen if they were to set the monster free. Certainly nothing too terrible could happen, as the artists are now big enough to wrestle with it.

Usually though, they aren’t. The second the cage is open and the monster starts to maul the artist, it’s obviously an unequal match. Some manage to get it back into the cage and then never challenge it again. But for those with weaker constitutions, they are left fighting and wrestling on the ground until they strangely start to get stronger.

This is where it happens.

Suddenly the battle evens out, and both the monster and the artist know it. Both are learning and growing from the other to become an equal pair. Then once it becomes obvious that further fighting is useless, both are left wondering what to do now that it’s over.

Eventually this is where a renewed partnership, or even friendship if you are so lucky, begins. Timid at first of course, but it grows stronger the more the artist and the monster learn to trust each other again. And in secret, away from society, it becomes like a second childhood for them both.

Now they play and imagine free of any stupid rules or expectations. Together the monster and the artist go again on great epic adventures, finding newer and better ways to share them with a public that would easily shame them for it in the next breath if they knew.

That is how an adult artist is born. At least how this one was.


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