I'm a writer, and in the course of the day I may experience the multitude of emotions that other people experience in a month or even a year. Everything from depression, to exaggerated glee, to self-scorn, to an outright wish to die, to bursting joy again, then back to self-deprecation, to sparkling glory and pride, to fatal indifference and bleak ideas of peril, to sudden feeling of worldly wisdom and truth. It never ends, and it drives me nuts. I am nuts, by some definition, I'm a writer. I have to experience all of this to be able to craft characters, multiple characters, overwhelmed with an array of emotions, to convince the reader that those are real people and they really REALLY feel it. Because if they feel nothing, the reader will feel nothing, and there will be no reason for the reader to read my book. It's a curse, and I've been afflicted with it all my life, not understanding it, trying to get rid of it, to suppress it, to make myself numb, going as far as seriously contemplating suicide, and then, finally, deciding to live and embracing it. The reason I am a writer is very simple. If I don't write, this cauldron of feelings, this hot fucking lava, this hodgepodge of my thoughts, this mishmash of my ruminations on life and everything else under the sun, this amalgamation of worries and heart palpitations and sweat perspirations and cries (don't you already feel overloaded by reading this sentence?) will spill on people around me, burn them, and they will run the hell away from me, screaming. Writing saves me and my life and the lives of those around me. Without writing I'd explode in a shower of fireworks, or bloody guts, or feces, your choice. But this is the thing. Without feeling this river of OH MY GOD I FEEL SO MUCH I WILL DIE shit, I wouldn't be able to write. And neither were you. So it's okay you're always overly dramatic and expressive, that's what writers have to be, to write.
Any emotion can be written out, and there more there is, the better. I'm aware now of this beautiful fact. I can survive anything, any drama, any fight, any emotional breakdown by simply writing about it. In fact, I want to be nudged in such a way that I get mad, or pissed, or overly happy. Whenever I feel something to an extreme, my writing flows. I'm like a sponge, I absorb life, it let it trawl through my system, and I vomit it out on paper, and it's gone, and I'm chill again. Of course, the chill part doesn't last long. I suppose every writer is built in this despicable manner. We see a mosquito on the wall, and we: 1. Get mesmerized by its proboscis for hours. 2. Get pissed and have a panic attack when we try to smash it with a rolled up newspaper and miss. 3. Scream to the world that we hate mosquitos so much, we want to kill every single one of them motherfuckers. 4. Want to die because we realize we can't kill every single one. 5. Realize we got stung and break the house down in search of a band-aid or some ointment that will stop the itch. 6. Spend an entire day reading about the difference between a male and a female mosquito and decide to write a novel about it 7. Get struck by the fact that we wasted the day, get drunk, get depressed. 8. Try to explain to people around us how a tiny mosquito has ruined our life (all of this met with blank stares). And then the next day we see a hippo in the neighbor's yard, and it starts all over again. And that's good. FEEL IT. Then write about it. See, I did write about a mosquito, a whole few sentences!
Some days we are tired, and that's why it's hard to feel and to write. Here is another simple thing. Some people call it writer's block. I think, bullshit. I think, there is no such thing as a writer's block, there is only this inability to feel, to make yourself feel, especially when tired. Think back to the time when you didn't have enough sleep for a week or more, you get into this stupefied state moving around on auto-pilot, right? You still have to do things, to function, to buy groceries, to cook dinner, to feed the kids, to walk the dogs, to go to work, to drive the car, whatever. You do these things mechanically, hardly feeling anything. You're exhausted. When you're exhausted, your body switches to this state of preservation, only letting you expend enough energy to do the most basic tasks. Now, think about writing. To write, you have to feel. To feel, you have to be alive enough and emotional enough to have it flow from you. Even when you're depressed, you feel down, you feel sad, that's still feeling. But your character feel all kinds of things, and you have to feel them with you. And if you're not feeling shit, how can you make yourself feel? You have to act. But it's hard to act, just ask actors. That's why the more you write, the easier it gets. You learn to act, to slip into that emotional state, EVEN when you're dead tired. It takes a lot out of you, but you do it. This is why it's a great thing to be overly emotional. You hardly ever are in this numb state. You always feel, always always ALWAYS, even when dead tired. So, lesson, take care of your body, and the writing will flow.
When we have to feel what we don't want to feel, it gets tough. I'm experiencing this on my own skin right now, writing IRKADURA. There are places there where I don't want to go, emotions I don't want to experience, so instead of writing 3,000 words in 4 hours, my normal writing speed, it takes me 9 hours to write 2,000 words, and it's awful. I'm not blocked, I simply don't want to feel that stuff because I'm over it, and it's painful, and because when I do make myself feel it, I don't just kinda feel it, I feel it like it's fucking real and I'm there! So. Hopefully when I'm done with it, it will make for a good book because of how much I poured into it, but interestingly enough this conundrum doesn't stop me anymore. For my future books, I now know what I'm in for. I can pick and choose what to write depending of what I want to feel, and I want to feel funny with a touch of macabre. That's what ROSEHEAD was to me (it's so close to being done so I can publish it!) - I loved writing it, I wrote it fast, and I loved reading it, I mean, when I got it back from my editor, I read it in two gulps and I laughed so hard (at my own writing!) that I almost peed my pants. I chose to write IRKADURA because a dear friend writer asked me to, and I will do it, but it's taking a toll because I'm still green, I'm not as good of an actress yet (by actress, I mean, being able to get in and out of the character at will), but I love it because I found a way to enjoy it, I made Irka, the main character, bitterly sarcastic. She is mute, so she thinks these outrageous things into people's faces, when they can't hear what she thinks and talk to her like she's an idiot. So this is why it's tough, because it's tough to feel. If you feel it's hard for you, consider the simple fact that it might be because you don't want to experience just now what your characters experience, and you will learn with time and practice to slide in and out of different emotional states faster and faster. I think that's what constitutes a professional writer. A professional writer can write about anything.
So. Feel. Feel everything you can, and then write it down. Without emotions you will struggle, or you will write dry books that are hard to read, because they don't touch us where we want to be touched, in our heart. Albeit, of course, if you're writing about mating habits of mosquitoes, you might need to remain placid, because, hey, I don't think mosquitoes feel much when they fuck do they?