Writing as personal psychoanalysis
December 11, 2010
I love writing. You start out with an idea, however nebulous, and you write and write and write and you suddenly realize it has gone off in wondrous new directions. And then you have to sit down and reason with the characters.
“Why did you do this?” you wail. “You said this, and now I have to make it fit!”
And they look at you, smiling, and you groan and rework everything yet again.
Knowing that they are all facets of my own mind is a curious feeling – but their optimism and kindness is comforting to me when I feel out of sorts with life. I not only dislike literary obsession with evil, malignant characters and ugly, painful, cruel situations; I think it destructive. I am no advocate for illusion in either direction, but just as making yourself smile actually does make you feel better, so thinking kind, reasonable thoughts will help you make yourself and our world better. Darkness in novels should be the foil that illuminates the ways to conquer it. And no one is happier for obsessing on their unhappiness, despite current bestsellers. It is true that as a species we are prone to schadenfreude; let us use it to find empathy and not entertainment.
If we can empathize with others, through novels, movies, news; we are more likely to actually do something about alleviating their hardships. Who knows, maybe we’ll conserve water, or recycle more, perhaps even start thinking about the long term consequences of the way we vote.
We all have dreams. One of mine is the survival of humanity on this incredible, beautiful planet. Does my feel-good writing serve that dream? I hope so. I truly believe that we have to triumph over our personal beliefs and prejudices, learn to see ourselves as ‘all in this together’ if we are going to be here much longer.