Reader Friday: Writing From Emotions

Sue Grafton, Wikimedia Commons (Mark Coggins)

Before Sue Grafton hit with her alphabet series, she went through a bitter divorce. In an interview she said, “I used to lie in bed at night just thinking of ways to do him in. And I came up with some doozies. But I knew I was going to get caught at it because I credit the police with quite a bit of intelligence. And I knew I’d flub it. So I thought, why don’t I put this plot between the covers of a book and get paid for it? And that launched this whole new career.”

Have you ever written anything to more positively channel some of your, er, more antisocial emotions?


14 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Writing From Emotions

  1. Oh yes. Like Sue, I went through a nasty rift in my life, and I too contemplated many, many ways to make my ex go away. And the many ways I would make it look like something else did him in. I even spent hours contemplating exactly what size knitting needle would be best for the job. Could I knit a garrote together that would hold? Which fibres might leave more trace behind than another? Could I lure him to the bluffs and then push him over and ensure he wouldn’t be calling for help hours later? There were no food allergies, and I didn’t know about the jequirity bean then, and it would have been too hard to get into the country anyway.
    In the end, I let our legal system do its thing. I still ended up getting screwed for child support and alimony, and I did not end up with a writing career to show for it. Just goes to show what a limited imagination will get you. Now though? My imagination has kicked in and I’m pursuing that writing career with both hands, thankyouverymuch.

  2. I remember an episode of Kojak where our hero was searching for a murderer/rapist. He’d narrowed his list of suspects to the occupants of a single building. One of the first suspects Kojak interrogated was a high-strung sculptor. Later, one of Kojak’s fellow detectives asked if he suspected the sculptor. Kojak took his lollipop out of his mouth and said, “Nah. He’s found an outlet for his emotions.”

  3. Er…yes. But not anger. Sadness. Sometimes hopelessness and despair. Don’t get me wrong, I do get angry sometimes, but I’ve never written my anger out…yet.

    Somehow, perhaps because I’m mostly a non-confrontational person, my anger slowly seeps downward and morphs into heartache and mourning at a broken relationship.

    And that’s when I write. Plumbing the depths of grief, all the whys and wherefores, IMHO, is more interesting and healing than dealing with the anger that produced the deeper emotion.

    But, I do enjoy a good who-dunnit, and I sometimes put different faces on the black hats who get theirs in the end. Tee-hee. Purely human, I guess.

  4. Hi Jim,

    I started to write, no, not consciously, but then I stopped. I really thought about it, and realized the answer, yes, absolutely I’ve channeled my “shadow side” to fuel my fiction.

    The anger that my hero Mathilda Brandt feels over what life has served up and continues to serve up, anger at the injustice of it all, the unfairness. The frustration that my hero Liz Marquez feels over obstacles to doing the right thing.

    The important thing to me, and the hard part, after drawing on the emotion, is making sure it now belongs to the character.

  5. Have I ever made someone who has done-me-wrong a victim or even the villain of one of my stories? You bet your sweet bippy I have, starting with the short story on my website–Bloodkin– And I found out it was fun! At least when I write a story, justice happens.

  6. Hell hath not fury! Lol

    For me, I try not to too directly channel my emotions because I tend to over do it and break the fourth wall. It messes up the voice. However, when I look back at finished stories, I see my subconscious worked quite a few personal themes into the plot without me knowing.

  7. Have you ever written anything to more positively channel some of your, er, more antisocial emotions?

    ALL the time. Because actual murder is illegal.

  8. I know several writers who have killed people they don’t like between the covers. I asked one writer friend to bump off my buddies ex. Alas, the series ended before the ex did.

    Oh, don’t piss off Elaine Viets. Just saying.

  9. For many years, I volunteered my time to a science fiction convention run by a group at my alma mater. (RIP, Stellarcon!) One year, I was in charge of the authors–making sure that they got where they needed to go, had what they needed, etc. Essentially, I herded authors. The con manager was a huge horror fan so most of the authors wrote horror of the seriously gross and cruel type known as splatterpunk. I was seriously worried about dealing with these guys and keeping them away from younger attendees–college kids down to elementary school-age. I figured they had more than a few screws loose. Nicest authors I’ve ever met and worked with. Lovely people. Talk about getting the nastiness out by writing.

    The worst. Famous literary poets during my college years at big events. Handsy on the college girls the age of their grandchildren and total jerks to everyone else.

    I’ve read that most first novels are autobiography, whether the author realizes it or not, and my first was. My heroine was an English major at a university that totally wasn’t my alma mater, and the killer wasn’t a professor I genuinely despised. I enjoyed killing that b*stard.

    QUOTE: He rose and bowed her stiffly out of his office then picked up a neat pile of books from his desk. With a movement of his head to signify he’d forgotten her completely, he strode down the hall toward the classrooms with an impossibly erect elegance.

  10. Nope. She was a greed-addled, enthusiastically litigious moron. I knew that if I ignored her, she’d do a better job destroying herself than I could.

    I turned out to be right.

    PS: Silent sadism can be soooo satisfying *and* I didn’t have to go through the hassle of actually writing a book. Which doesn’t mean I won’t cook up some spicy payback in time to come. 😉

  11. Heh, I did that one time, wrote in some actual craziness from actual humans. My critique group kicked it back, saying it was too unrealistic. I had to tone down the crazy in order to make it believable. :-p

    I had a very hard pregnancy a few years ago. I was extremely sick and miserable, and was pretty much certain that labor was going to do me in. So I wrote a lot of angsty, suffering characters. When that got old, I wrote doomed, tragic relationships. I don’t know if anybody would ever want to read that stuff, but it was cathartic for me. :-p

    Spoilers: I lived. Labor actually wasn’t too bad.

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