Today is a day for regrets, a time when the past mistakes are felt most sharply. I’m not sure why, but instead of the usual touchstones of happiness and joy my mind wanders to darker memories and sadder places.
On days like this, I always find it helpful to write. Writing has and always will be (I hope) my emotional outlet. It is the place where I can express these feelings of regret or sadness or joy or confusion in a useful, productive manner. I fold my feelings into stories and leave behind a richer plot, more complex characters, and ultimately a better story. It is never easy, but it is cathartic for me and in stressful situations that have no easy solution I more often than not am itching for a pen and paper. This is especially true for anger.
I do not get on with anger. My mother once said, “When I get angry, I get stupid.” Well, like mother like daughter. My anger can blind me, like a drunk’s blackouts, to things said and done in the heat of it. Thus, when I get beyond snippy and frustrated to out and out MAD I tend to sit down and write rather than get into a screaming match with the object of my ire. I scream everything I want to say and do through the pen out onto the paper. The raw power of my emotions is, I’ll admit, rough and in need of polishing…even unleashing it through the written word I tend to be a bit hot headed and sometimes make little sense…but it is REAL. I can feel the brutal honesty of the words as I read them, and I know these are the things I would say to someone in the heat of the moment. So I save them to use at a time when I am calm and need to dig deep into my character for an angry exchange or some home truths. Sometimes I create scenes as I write, inventing arguments for my characters to have. Funnily enough, this can usually kick start me into writing more than just the argument but a whole new scene. Thus when I am done not only do I have another “piece to the puzzle”, but I am also in a better mood than when I started.
I know this is not always the case and that many authors out there feel they must write without emotion lest their stories become melodramatic or sappy. Others believe the pure emotional moments are too real to share, and do not make good writing.
I understand these other schools of thought; I’ve even met a writer or two that claim they cannot write while they are angry. Then again, I once knew a girl like me…only to the extreme. She told her best friend, a very sweet gay man who was always the life of the party, that she could no longer live with him because he made her too happy. She went on to say that she needed to be miserable to write and he was ruining her budding career.
Ok, ok, so that is a bit extreme, but I warned you that it was.
So the next time you get mad or sad, gleeful or silly, thoughtful or regretful, pick up your pen and see what comes out. You might be surprised or you might not…either way you’ll know.
And if you must be miserable to write and writing is that important to you I feel for you, but understand where you are coming from if I did not have writing I’m not sure what I would do…besides get stupid a lot.