intransitive verb \i-ˈmōt\
Portray emotion in a theatrical manner.
On that note…wow. What happens in one year is pretty amazing. My life has changed dramatically. Last year I was just querying my first finished manuscript and learning about the business. I hadn't even tweeted yet. Strange. Now, I'm a newly divorced single mom trying to figure out up from down, I have an agent intern gig, my second novel is almost complete and still searching for an agent. But I am wiser about all of these things in many respects.
Weird thing is, this year has presented me with many emotional challenges. My feelings are raw and out there, and I'm finding that writing has become quite difficult. And it sucks. Because I hear so many people say "Write your feelings on the page" and "get those feelings out" and as much as my feelings really would like to be set free into the cosmos, I can't. I have a hard time letting go. I have a hard time not getting caught up in my feelings. Both good and bad.
Many people have asked me this year, "Are you happier now?" I really don't know how to answer that question. In many respects, yes. I can be more true to myself. I no longer need to apologize for what I want and need in my life. But in some ways, I struggle still. Loneliness has a way of eating at your soul, small bite by bite. And there are days, that I'm quite lonely. Like today. And then, blessed be, there are days when I feel loved and cherished.
So why not pour my emotions into writing?
I realize, like with most things in life, there is a sweet spot. Even for writing. I can get caught up in happiness and joy and the feeling of "YES! My life has finally arrived!" and then I'm too giddy to really write seriously. Then there is the feeling of complete sadness and the feeling like I want to crawl under my covers and never come out. And when I feel like this, my writing suffers for it, because the only thing I want to feel is better.
So there is this place where contentment and realism resides, and that is where I do my best writing. I can call on the memories of the strong feelings and write them into my pieces, but I'm unattached enough that I don't find myself wanting to dive into a vat of Haagen Daaz. And I think that's ok. Because if I wrote when feeling all my feels, I would stop midsentence and drink whiskey or eat cake and then my novels would NEVER be finished. It's a fine art, this writing thing. And takes a delicate touch, much like surgery. I guess you could say writers are the surgeons of words.
I have always been convinced I truly feel things stronger than many others. And I think many writers have this tendency. I don’t know why that is, but for me, I suspect it was because of losing my brother (who was my best friend) at an early age. I learned from the get go that life isn't easy or fair, and that bad things happen. So every sunset is extra beautiful, every dawn is priceless. Every wind, lap of a wave, falling leaf, ember of a flame is so brilliantly beautiful and I love every second of every day. When you realize every moment is a gift, you tend to see things differently.
So by all accounts, I should take things in stride, right? Wrong. Instead, like that sunset or a snowfall that's been untouched by tracks of any sort, I drink in all my emotions because those too, are what it takes to feel alive. And happiness and pain are part of the wonderful journey of life, even when it's excruciating. And I have certainly had some of those feelings lately.
And these feelings are the very things that drive us as writers. We need these feelings to understand the depth of our characters. Because what are books if they aren't stories of the human experience?
So, I think sometimes, we have to take pause. Revel in both the joy and the sorrow: the butterflies of a new love, a first kiss, the dreams and hope of what may come next. Conversely also: the silent breaking of a heart, the wound of unrequited love, the devastation of loss. Because these are what our worlds are built upon.
So I won't feel guilty for taking a break and letting my emotions envelope me as they tend to do. I won't consider it a personal failure if today, or tomorrow, or a month from now I need to stop writing for a bit, because my characters deserve the best of me and my full attention. Otherwise they lack their own depth and passion. That's unfair to them. That's unfair to the reader.
So, to all those writers like me who can't (for their own reasons) just "write it out", you have permission to feel. To emote. To cry. To do a cannonball into the ocean if that's what you want.
And when your feelings aren't as consuming, write again. Because the world needs your words.