Unapologetically Marie

It took me years to understand the concept that suffering is pivotal to finding the core of an artistic soul. It seemed like too much of a cliche, the starving and suffering artist or writer who crawls through the darkest alleys of life in order to produce a masterpiece. My writing journey began in short stories, with a side trip into journalism, literary translation, and ultimately landing in blogging and more complex story-writing. It was a way of keeping me sane, expressing my thoughts in a medium that was comforting and comfortable at the same time, having abandoned the love affair with the canvas a long time ago. The camera became a soulful companion instead of paint brushes, but writing took deep roots in my being.

Learning the structures and linguistic affinities of writing is the easy part. You can hone your craft over the years and learn to use a plethora of sophisticated words to impress the reader – or scare them away. But you can always tell when a writer’s words come from a world beyond research and academia. Having witnessed first hand or experienced the emotions expressed in the book or short stories gives the piece a whole new dimension, and you can draw from personal experience to best describe inner turmoil, heartbreak, abuse, and so on. Going through depression, for example, was one of the most power experiences as a writer, and helped me tremendously in giving my characters raw emotions, or understand the evil mind that they were intended to have. Interviewing resource persons has its limitations for character development in fiction, but if the aim is make the character believable, and in my case they must also uphold the advocacy and social justice component, then the emotions and thought process have to come from an authentic self. This is precisely why I don’t write fantasy and cheap romance!

Portrait by Guido Schwarz
Click HERE for the story behind the portrait

Marie Balustrade came into being in 2014, when I began writing Wings At Dawn, putting together all the research and getting to know my main characters. She became my alter ego, a refuge away from the chaos that surrounded me, and in times she became a good friend. It sounds strange to say that I am friends with my alter ego without sounding slightly schizophrenic, but for those of you who use a pen name or an artists name for whatever craft you pursue, you will understand. I needed to separate my real life and all its complications from Marie Balustrade’s life, or else the book would never come into existence. There were no public photos of her, just the silhouette of a woman hiding beneath a hat, afraid of being criticised for the writing and the scars.

2016 – 2018 were the years Marie and I discovered how much we abhor the letter D and everything it brought into our life. Death. Divorce. Disaster. Devastation. Drama. Distress. Danger. Darkness. Danger. Depression. That’s just for starters. It took me another two years to recover and bounce back, find the proper niche for Marie Balustrade, a purpose, and an advocacy. She is a stronger, more resilient and courageous writer who is unafraid to spread her wings now, and face the world. She will always battle with the ubiquitous writer’s block from time to time, but during the times she steps away from the limelight and the keyboard, the FrogDiva steps in and rustles things up again.

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