Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cold Comfort

"Malinconia"
Sometimes life just wants to snatch your purse, but for some dumb reason you fight back and wind up in a stretcher in the cosmic ER. Other times it comes at you, execution style. Soul-wrenching agony when the universe explodes and you’re one step beyond the event horizon, being pulled into a dark eternity.

But there’s one thing I can rely on in a crisis: that someone will tell me: this is important for your writing. It’s happening for a reason. Put this in your next book. Make sure you speak from this pain….

Wait, you mean share THIS with the world? Why the hell would they want it?

Yes, characters have to go through conflict and suffering, otherwise they’re boring. But do you have to experience schizophrenia to comprehend how horrible and destructive it can be? No, you do not. You are a writer because you have imagination and empathy and insight. Because you’re paying attention to how things run. Because you’ve seen a lot of shit and you took notes. 

In fact, you like manipulating stories and making things happen to other people. (My sister always jokes that JK Rowling is a sadist. Who else would kill one of the Weasley twins?) The point is, those bad things aren’t happening to you, puppet master. For once, you get to pull the strings. And maybe your nightmares hide for a while. Huzzah. Then again, maybe they don't.

Let's say your husband dies in a tragic hunting accident. Is anyone going to say: think what this will do for your sex life! Yeah, they might think it, but let's hope they're not graceless.

Nobody cares what a writer’s motives are. People are readers. They feel an inner call, too, and it has something to do with whether they can get to the end of your book – and still want more. So folks, next time your writer crashes into their dark side, don’t tell them it’s going to authenticate their art. Tell them to make sure it doesn’t ruin their plans.



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