"If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels," wrote Tennessee Williams.
What comes first, the creativity or the darkness? Do artists create because they need to exorcise their demons, or is it their very creations that lead to the darkness? This conundrum continues to come up in the class I'm teaching this semester, Insane Characters in Literature (many of the characters/literature were created by authors who suffered from mental illness). The number of artists, especially writers, who were/are
drinkers or drug users is extremely high, and can't be a coincidence. The number of artists, especially
writers, who have committed suicide or suffered from some type of mental illness is off the charts, so to speak. No other career loses so many people to suicide.
What comes first, the emotional pain or the creativity?