Angst in Writing– Back on the Chain Gang

Blog Chain time again!

This chain’s topic was selected by Carolyn over on Archetype Writing. If you didn’t find your way here from Leah Clifford’s blog, you should check out her post.

The topic is:

Some people argue that creative people need β€œangst” to produce good work. Do you? What emotions drive you as a writer?

Is angst necessary for good writing?

Well, when I was in high school, my writer friends and I certainly thought so. The word “Angst” became a sort of mantra among us, emerging as a guttural grunt to be shouted when appropriate. And I certainly wrote angsty things during that time… poetry mostly.


A smash
Through the glass
Would leave my
Tied with pretty
Red ribbons

A walk
With a train
Would leave me
At last

His key
In the lock
Leaves me
And shaking.

But I don’t think good writing is angsty all that often. And I don’t think of angst as something a writer must acquire in order to write well.

I think of it more like research, I guess.

As a writer, I think it’s important to experience as much as possible. Actually, scratch that… as a HUMAN BEING, I think it’s important to experience as much as possible. I’ve always tried to learn whatever I can. When I was 13, I made my young cousins show me their piano lessons, so I could teach myself. I learned sign language and translated for the Children’s Theater productions when I was in high school. Calligraphy, hula dancing, coding for electronic books, medicine, palm-reading, law, Spanish folk songs… all these things widen my personal experiences and make my writing richer.

It’s the same way with emotional experiences. The more personal extremes you’ve experienced, the more genuinely you can empathize and express those sentiments for your characters. Every emotion– including angst– is valid and useful in writing.

So, no… I don’t think a writer needs to suffer for their art, per se. I don’t think making yourself miserable or melancholy is going to improve your work. But I do think a writer needs to be OUT THERE, taking risks, making themselves emotionally vulnerable and just plain embracing the rich up-and-downs of life. The benefits for the writing is just a bonus. πŸ™‚

Next up on the chain is the fabulous Jessica Verday, so tune in tomorrow and see what she has to say about this topic.


Cognitive Dissonance

We have a pond in our subdivision. Usually it’s cobalt blue and sun-dappled. That’s what it does, and it’s good at it.

Today is a gorgeous spring day– a prime opportunity for our pond to add to the springy view. Instead, it is gunmetal gray and cresting into actual whitecaps.

I love wind.

I felt so symbolic yesterday…

I feel I’ve turned a corner, made a circle back.

Circles have odd personal symbolism for me. I am drawn to their forever quality, their symmetry, their perfection.

I remember being amazed when my mother told me that Leonardo DaVinci could draw a perfect circle freehanded. I don’t know if that’s true. I certainly can’t, although I can write in mirror image as he did. A bizarre skill I discovered when my junior high school class was instructed to try it during an art history lesson.

But circles also became the miserably acknowledged symbol of my relationship with my long-ago boyfriend. He was my first real love– my first everything. And I was in deep smit from the get-go, while he kept thinking things would get better.

We came together and broke apart many times during our dysfunctional courtship, and would talk about the “next time” the circle came around whenever we went our separate ways. Thus, circles became a simultaneous symbol for hope and heartbreak.

That is one circle I am glad to say had an end. And happily married, my relationship is linear now so I can redefine my personal symbols. Despite the misery once associated, I am fond of circles again. πŸ™‚

And the circle I feel I’ve recently made holds no malice. I don’t know what exactly let me find my way back to writing after so many years without time or inspiration. But through this novel-writing journey and the people I’ve met along the way, I feel I’ve actually found my way back to poetry.

I can’t explain what that means to me. I haven’t even written anything new, but I’ve discovered a part of myself that had gone missing in these poems I dug out of my basement.

It’s good to be back.