February 12, 2010

Stay With ‘Em

When you’re watching an intense emotional movie, do you ever get the urge to fast forward? Do you ever want to know the end so that the suspense and the emotion doesn’t kill you?

Do you ever not mention to your spouse how you hate it when they say that thing, you know, that makes you want to scream? You don’t mention it because it’s the tip of the iceberg, and if you mention it, you’ll both have to confront the deeper issues?

Have you ever let a friendship die rather than say something about that one thing that drives you crazy but you’re afraid it will offend the person so, rather than confronting them, you just quit inviting them out for lunch.

Avoidance is a deep-seated coping strategy ~ one of my main ones, it seems, sometimes. It’s a spook that used to haunt me every day. I didn’t have the emotional stability to confront things. Since then, I’ve pretty much exorcised him. I look forward to confronting things to see how they’ll come out. I don’t mind saying no, even if I squirm a bit at the time, because I know if I don’t it’ll be so much worse later. Still, he served a valuable purpose. If the choice is avoid or go crazy, I’ll take avoidance every time.

But he’s still down there creeping around corners. He niggles me when I’m not paying attention. One of the ways he does this is by making me avoid the hard stuff in my fiction. Would I rather put this character through hell ~ she’s someone I like a lot, by the way, and I’m rooting for her ~ or would I rather let her off the hook? Of course, I’d rather let her off the hook. But if I let her off the hook, I betray the reader. One of the reasons people read is to see that person go there, be put in the horrible situation. Even if it turns out badly, the reader’s lived through it. So when I, the writer, don’t go there, the reader gets angry ~ justifiably so.

So I find that it’s my job to be my own vigilante and to hunt myself down when I’m shirking. You’ve got to go there.

What I’m Reading Today: Some inspirational stuff about writing to gear myself up to work on the novel.

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