Monday, December 17, 2007
Emotional Writing, the Cons
On the left, the small glass container has always been in my life and part of my Christmas. It started out as a pine candle that was burned every Christmas eve. When I was four, I was allowed to use a kitchen match and light the candle, my first really grown up act ever, ever. I remember the brilliance of the flame, the heat of it licking near my fingertips, the pride of the accomplishment.
I could write pages about my memories of that one item. But I won't. Why? Because it is particular to me. Family stories don't constitute fiction. Sometimes that line gets blurred and what should only be a dairy or journal entry ends up being stretched too thin to become "a story."
Which brings up the major con of emotional writing. Jim of The Truth About Lies commented in the previous post: Many time I have written a poem as a direct emotional response to certain events but what I have noticed is that the closer the writing is to the event in general the poorer the quality of the piece is.
Good point, Jim. And the bigger the event the more distance is needed. In my workshops, I've run into this problem over and over. What's happened isn't fiction. Fiction is not only retelling a story, it needs more. It needs a story arc and resolution. "But it really happened," beginning writers wail--and that's the problem.
And if the event is large enough, the writer may never be able to escape the confines of the emotion. In my candle-lighting event described above, I can use my memories to heighten a moment in a piece of fiction. But some events are too large, too strong to use so specifically.
That having been said, the pros outweigh the con.