Afraid of Love

Or rather, confrontation and complication of Love.

One of the problems I have in recent months, while struggling with my "masterpiece" (or as someone said: master baiting piece; he had a point -- writing is, at times, pure mental masturbation, but I digress), is that I've been stalling at exactly the points where the two main characters were supposed to meet again.

It's not like I don't want them to meet, that they'd have nothing interesting to say to each other. Quite the contrary. There's going to be fireworks and conflict and emotions and, most of all, pent-up passion and love and hate and all that stuff. Honestly, I was stalling because I was frightened. I was worried not only can't the character handle all that emotions and conflict, but neither can I.

That rather reflects on my real-life personality. It's easier for me to use humor to hide what I'm really thinking of or feeling. It's easier for me to focus on the "action" or "events." It's easier for me to skimp the surface so I don't have to deal with the slew of emotions such as envy, jealousy, self-doubt, sadness... and passion. There are times when it's just simpler and easier to go on with the daily life ignoring all that.

In person, I am also frightened by conflicts and confrontation, especially of the emotional kind. I can argue just like anyone else. I even pick fights when I feel it's necessary. I like a great intellectual debate, the more heated the better. But when it comes to the heart and soul, I shy away from any kind of conflicts. I'd rather sling away or keep my silence.

Lately I've been rewatching the final season of Six Feet Under, by far my most favorite show ever, and I was devastated by the raw emotions once again. That show was so raw and deep and gut-wrenching that I believe it must have been extremely cathartic and difficult to write, and probably why it took Alan Ball two years to recover from it.

What watching the show again taught me, though, is that I don't have to be afraid of these emotions. They're what makes us human. And in a way, that's not what I'm most afraid of -- I can deal and have dealt with these emotions all my life -- but how I am going to describe and convey such emotions without being melodramatic and over the top and contrived and trite. That's the issue I have with raw, deep, great emotions in fiction. And that scares me a lot.

And that reflects in my work. I have no problem writing fights, wars, and devastations. I have no problems writing villains and bad behaviors. But when it comes to matters of the heart and the conflicts that arise from such matters, I'm paralyzed. So here I was, stalling at the tipping points of two of the most gut-wrenching scenes and unable to move forward, because I was scared for my characters, and scared for myself.

But like real life, we can't keep balking and avoiding and hiding from our emotions. We need to deal with them, confront them, and let them go. In a way, that's why writing can be so cathartic and scary at the same time.

I'm going to forge forward with these scenes and I know I'd be an emotional mess (booked a cabin so I can hide there for a few days, then emerge unscathed and just as macho as before!) but I'm ready for it. My characters are ready for it.

Wish me luck, folks!


Stacey Graham said…
What a wonderful, honest post, Ray! We'll be here when you emerge and hug the stuffin' out of you. :)
Ray Wong said…
THANSK! But are you saying my other posts are not honest? ;)
Jamie D. said…
I can empathize with you on this one - and I write romance. But for me, my characters provide an outlet for all those emotions that I push aside/ignore/gloss over in daily life. Dramatic as it sounds, my heart pours out on the page, in a way it never will in real life.

In any case...I wish you much luck and many cathartic words. :-)
Ray Wong said…
Funny... I actually seldom used my writing as catharsis. In a way, my stories are kind of one removed from me -- it's not to say they have no emotions, but it's more intellectual in a way... that I'm not pouring out my OWN emotions to it. I've talked about that I can't write when I'm upset or depressed. I'm usually "happy" when I write, so I don't usually do the catharsis thing. It's just weird.
Jamie D. said…
I'm normally "removed" from my stories as well (I'm very much a "cold" intellectual...I've never seen my stories as "babies" or anything like that). But I find that without infusing my own emotions into emotional scenes, the scenes fall flat. Perhaps that's what you're struggling with here? You do say in the post that it will make you an emotional wreck...the writing can't do that unless you're emotionally invested, in that part at least.

Since you don't need catharsis though, I'll just wish you many words then...
Ray Wong said…
Thanks... It's going to be emotional and I am emotionally invested, but not the same as catharsis, I guess that's what I mean, since I really don't have any of the same emotional issues my characters are having, but I empathize with them and feel for them, nonetheless... that's what I mean, I suppose. It's like watching a really, really gut-wrenching show (as I mentioned, Six Feet Under) and feeling that drain, but I know it's not about me.

But really thanks for your good thoughts. :)

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