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Writing Thoughts: Not Settling

Why do you write?

Seriously. Do you know why you write?

There are people who write for entertainment.
There are people who write to explore some kind of theme or message.
Some writers want to go on an adventure.

Me? I’m a very emotional writer. I’m not trying to “say” anything. I don’t make decisions based on things like “logic.”

I had a writing friend point out last week that some people chase a “feeling” when they write. They want their stories to feel a certain way. Excuse me while I wax dramatic for a second, but I have never felt so understood in my life! It reminds me of this Steve Jobs quote I like: “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”

Once you’ve been pulled by a story and captivated by it, it’s hard to settle for anything less. I’ve been fighting with myself over the last couple of years, trying to tell myself that it’s unrealistic to be completely wrapped up and in love with everything I write. But I decided it’s not unrealistic. It’s necessary.

I finally watched the Vampire Academy movie over the weekend. I’d been avoiding it because I thought I wouldn’t like it. I was afraid it would be too campy or silly, and it’s Rotten Tomatoes score is horrible. Like 16%, I think. But you know what? I loved that movie. It was dark and fun and right up my alley. Granted, I read the graphic novel version of book one not too long ago, and recently realized that books two and three were published at one point, where previously I thought they weren’t. When I saw a review saying the series had been cancelled, I thought they meant the rest of the original trilogy, not books 4-6, which I don’t have and didn’t know existed.

Luckily, Amazon bots had my back, told me I could indeed read the rest of the original trilogy whilst I was browsing horror books one day, so I swiped up copies of those books at once!

But my point is: I loved it because it made me feel things and feeling things is exciting! I got a rush of endorphins! A shot of creative adrenaline! Just like when I read the graphic novel! And now I really, really want to read the books that have been on my shelf for some time, but first, I’m reading graphic novels, because…faster.

And yeah, I agree that stories need other things besides an emotional impact, but what I’m talking about here is me. Obviously. I’m talking about what I need, the most important thing I need, when writing a story, and that’s something that makes me feel whatever it is I want to feel right now.

I’m always saying vague things when talking about what I want in a project. I say things like: “I want something bloody and creepy.” Or in the case of “Winter’s Siren” – something dark and beautiful and fairytale-like. And I got it. Obviously, I needed to start the story first, but I had what I wanted from PAGE ONE. Because it was in the very bones of the story.

We want to go on a ride! And when it’s over, we’re still thinking about it, and it takes a moment to feel steady on our feet again.

Now, I’m not worried about making other people feel things. My focus is on what will get ME to feel things. If I feel it, someone else will feel it. It starts with me.

You might be wondering why I’m having a near conniption on the blog today. Basically, long story short, I was reading a book: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, and something freaky and dark and awesome happened, and I immediately wanted to write an entire story that captured how I felt in that moment. I was completely wrapped up in this feeling! It perfectly embodies the kind of story I want to write right now – just creepy, disturbing, sexy darkness – and I couldn’t get it out my head.

So, I’m determined, moving forward, to only write stories that capture me in some essence. Some emotion. Some feeling. Because while writing just to entertain is fine, I want to do so much more than that. It’s a feeling that I’m after. It’s always been a feeling. I just didn’t have the right world for it until I was reading that scene, and others like it, in that book. It was absolutely gorgeous, you guys.

Like, if I need to wait several months for the right “feeling” to come along, it’s far more productive than starting and stopping a bunch of stuff all the time.

It goes back to something I talked about last year or earlier, I don’t remember, but I said something along the lines of a project needing to fit my “mood.” That wasn’t quite the right word, probably, but understanding how I want a story to feel is the first and most important step for me.

4 Comments

  • Tonja Drecker

    I’m going to have to watch Vampire Academy now. Feelings are a must when writing. If we don’t feel anything as writers, how can readers even have a chance?

  • Michelle Athy

    Huh, that’s interesting! I mean, I guess we all want to evoke feelings in us or the reader in our writing. Thing is, though, I’m incredibly moody, so I don’t think I write to chase a feeling (unless it’s a fanfic lol). Even creative writing can be a lot more academic for me: “Let’s see what these characters do!” or “Let’s explore this…thing…whatever it is” or “I want to talk about this subject, but I want to do through the prism of writing because I feel like writing right now.”

    There’s a quote somewhere that writing is how some writers sort out what they think of an issue and I’m definitely in that box.

    • Krystal Jane

      It’s super helpful to understand where we stand on the spectrum. I think it helps us focus. I read a quote similar to that once. Fiction especially is a great place to explore stuff, because it’s not always super in your face.

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