“A work of art is a world in itself reflecting senses and emotions of the artist’s world.” ~ Hans Hofmann
Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.” ~ Gretchen Rubin
I’ve been thinking about emotions or the lack thereof a great deal lately because of all the things going on in the world. There are so many people who seem to be completely disconnected from empathy and compassion that it’s distressing to me. On the other hand people are emerging who are just the opposite. It’s as if we’re having actual battles between good and evil, just as is reflected in our popular entertainment.
Where did that notion come from that showing our emotions is weakness I wonder? If a person being interviewed on TV cries, or if someone shows emotion in real life, they say “I’m sorry” as if showing their true feelings is bad. That makes me sad. I know showing vulnerability is difficult. But think of the alternative. Would you rather have relationships with people who are in touch with their emotions, or with people who are emotionally absent?
This spring Barry and I have been watching the third season of Masterpiece Mystery’s Unforgotten. It’s about a team of detectives in London who investigate crimes from the past. A body that has been long buried is found and the team must try to find the murderer. This season was quite chilling. When the team discovered who the murderer was, it turned out he was a psychopathic psychiatrist. He bragged about being a serial killer of young teenage girls. The actor playing the psychopath gave a chilling performance countered by the emotional performance by the actress playing DCI Stuart. Which character was stronger? The one with no emotions at all, or the one so connected to the dead girls and their families that she could barely stand to be in the same room with the killer? I go with DCI Stuart. Her compassion for the families helped them heal years of uncertainty and pain.
As a writer I struggle with writing emotions. It’s so much easier to reproduce them as an actor because replicating body language and facial expressions help me connect with the character and audience. But when I write character emotions, I must think of how my body feels when I’m experiencing various emotions. Where does fear reside in my body, or grief, anger, or joy? And then how do I write those physiological responses so the reader feels those emotions with my characters?
Of course, what happens in the real world influences my writing. I’m nearly finished with the rough draft of Morgan’s timeline in, Time’s Echo. And all of my thoughts about emotions made me notice the holes in my character’s emotional lives. I’m going to have to do a better job of describing their emotional states. A year or so ago, I might have been tempted to rush through this book, but it feels too important to get the emotional component right. Not that I did a terrible job on the first book, but the stakes are much higher for my two main characters in this one. I want to take greater care with writing what they’re going through and how they feel about it.
Being able to write what I’ve been contemplating has done one thing for me. I’m not as ashamed to show my true emotions as I used to be. I used to be an observer. A fly on the wall rarely interacting with people I didn’t know. But over the years of acting, teaching and writing, I’ve learned to make deeper connections with those around me. That’s a good thing I think. I’d rather risk making emotional connections than be completely alone. That’s extremely sad and stressful and it doesn’t help anyone, especially me.
So, now that my teaching semester is over, I’ve got more time to do a better job of writing the emotional lives of my characters. Oh, and finally get back to recording the audio version of my first book.
Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Welcome new to my new followers. I hope you have a fabulous weekend.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.