Journey into the Shadow and the Sunshine continues the theme of Journey into the Dark and the Light, the first book by Annabel Harz. Disarmingly honest words and images reveal more of her personal experiences: the deep shadows of loneliness and depression; the recognition of the value of survival at her lowest point of feeling unworthy; the importance of mental and physical space in creating a safe place for personal exploration and growth; and ultimately the sunshine of wellbeing when—through sheer grit and endurance—her personal demons had been conquered and set free.
Sustained effort is required to rise out of depression once it is established as a daily state of being. The poetry and artwork in this collection exemplify the resilience required to rise above the despair of mental ill-health, and with candour and sincerity depict the internal strength which facilitates reaching a place of well-being.
Hello all! I am so pleased to welcome Annabel Harz, author of Journey into the Shadow and the Sunshine to The Book’s the Thing today. Please feel free to leave her a comment below.
THE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION by Annabel Harz
Australians walking in the bush are taught from a young age to look down. As we walk and talk we don’t look at each other; rather, our gaze sweeps the ground. Especially in summer we stick to the beaten paths and don’t pursue ‘the one less traveled by’ (as Walt Whitman did). If we want to look at the sky we pause. Our scan for snakes is so ingrained in us that we don’t even notice we’re doing it.
Artists scan their environment, sometimes intentionally and at other times subconsciously. Inspiration can come from places well-known and long-investigated, the wells inside us lined with tears that are mined for understanding. At other times it’s caught on the wind, a chance sentence overheard that captures the imagination, perhaps sparking a memory or challenging established perspectives.
Innovation, whatever its form – the invention of something from nothing – is a mysterious process. Yes, artists identify a trigger here and a stimulus there, yet how do seemingly-random notes create a tune so haunting it lifts me from my doldrums? How do single letters form the perfect sentences to weave a story that moves me to tears? How does a length of yarn transpire into a warm jumper with imagination stitched into its design? How does a single remark from a loved one become the genesis for new creation?
On one level it’s logical: sequenced patterns and appropriate tools guide process. The soul-level, however, provides a conundrum: this is where the magic happens, where people can start with exactly the same tools and stimulus and imagine something totally unique into existence.
My art is inclusive of handcrafts, writing, drawing and dabbling in songs. These pursuits bring me such deep joy that I don’t really care if a piece is not particularly good, in others’ eyes: everyone has their own specialities … and everyone compensates for their talents with a lack in other areas. (Don’t ask me to make you something out of wood, which I’m famously bad at.)
As I’ve become older I’ve become bolder. Publicising my work as an author-artist-musician is hugely validating: there is no greater feeling than the elation that something I devised, entirely on my own and from a blank slate, is now available for others to read-view-hear. The immense satisfaction of such soul-fulfilment is indescribable.
Whether my work is judged worthy or not by critics, pitted against others in the public sphere, is a whole other layer of acceptance which does not dampen my internal bliss. Ratings and reviews are great publicity in that they provide social media currency – but what is actually being judged here? What onlookers take from my work really depends on whether they are familiar with such trauma.
Until I published Journey into the Dark and the Light in 2017 I struggled to talk about the trials of my past, even after thirty years. Incidents that rock a person to their innermost core simply are, and they don’t come with the vocabulary to succinctly define residual emotions.
My latest release, Journey into the Shadow and the Sunshine, released in 2021, continues the theme: both books represent my raw trauma, providing an insight into the anguish that is clinical depression; and affirming for fellow-sufferers that not only is there a way out of this tragic condition, but also that their individual experiences are validated. I’m thankful that my artistry has provided understanding and consolation to an audience of strangers.
Imagination is elusive in its boundaries: everything can be viewed as art, if appreciated from certain perspectives. Wherever you get your inspiration from is a legitimate source: nothing is out of bounds. To honour your inventive soul, keep scanning your environment, acknowledging that some things can be harnessed quickly and some require contemplation. Learn to recognise the snakes that are best avoided, and welcome the muse who will appear when the timing is right. Everyone’s creative journey is unique, and I encourage you to be at peace with yours: wherever you walk, be it the road less travelled or a busy main thoroughfare, I wish you solace on your journey.
I’d love to know what you think of my work: contact me!
One thought on “Guest Post from Author Annabel Harz”
This sounds like an interesting read and insightful. I appears the author has found a good way to put one foot in front of the other to keep going forward.