But something really cool has happened in the process of creating this happiness
I’ve done nothing to really warrant this joy; actually, it seems inane to feel like I want to hug every (non-smelly) person on the street just to see them smile (or, okay, to see them freak out a little…but geez, minutia, people). So, it’s gotten me thinking about my manic-depressive tendencies over the years (no, I have not been psychologically labeled), and it seems to me that my moods often correspond with my writing. For years, I tried to write these heart-wrenching, literary fiction stories. Sometimes, I still do—it can be rather cathartic, actually. But not once was I able to complete an entire novel like this. It was not until I abandoned this genre for something a little lighter, a little more in line with the happy ending I myself seek in life that I was able to complete a novel. Now I realize that it was not within my capability to slap sad endings onto those books—endings that were always, for all intents and purposes, appropriate and often essential for those stories—because they were clearly not right for me. Looking back, I see as well how deeply I would sink into myself, into the darkness created by a world of nonexistent characters, until I finally would just set the manuscript aside.
And so it seems that I am somewhat of a method writer.
Method Writing n :
a writing technique in which authors identify as closely as possible with the characters they create by correlating experiences from their personal lives to the characters/plotlines*
Even now—with YA fantasy (romance nonetheless), I feel my moods swing with the emotional tides of my main characters. It’s as if in order to make the characters and plotlines seem genuine, I have to draw upon my experiences and emotions that most closely relate to those within the story. And let me tell ya, this can really drain a person. And, yeah, it freaks me out quite a bit. I mean, what if I were to create a character like the Joker from The Dark Knight? Am I destined for a fate like that of Heath Ledger? Or OMG, like Sylvia Plath?
I tell myself, not bloody likely. I mean, I hope not. Surely, there are preventative measures I can take, right? Like reminding myself of all the happies in my life—it seems to have done the trick this time around. Perhaps, too, I shall start a new support group for method writers. Our new motto will be (all together now): “My characters will not control me. I control my characters.”** And when in the midst of putting our characters through hell, we will declare ONLY HAPPY SONGS ALLOWED days. So to this end, I present to you a few happy songs that can lift my spirits from the lowest of depths.
Caution: These songs might make your head bop a little—try to control yourself. Seriously. You have enough problems without looking deranged too, you method writer, you.
Now go and make up your own happies list and stick it by your computer. When you start to feel yourself sinking into despair because you’ve just killed off a main character with a spoon, pull out your list, pop in your happies playlist, and revive yourself. And remember: My characters will not control me. I control my characters.
One last word of advice: No matter what, do NOT stick your head in an oven. Not for ANY reason.
*As far as I know, this is not a real term. If you use it in literary circles, you may get laughed at.
**A word of caution to literary fiction writers: avoid method writing—it will be much harder for you as your books tend to be crazy sad. If you choose to go down this path (or if you are genetically predisposed), I recommend tattooing this motto onto the backs of your hands (or, you know, use a pen), so you are constantly reminded of this as you write. And lock your oven door.
P.S. If you did not watch that first video, thank you. But if you did—yes, I realize there’s a typo. But it took an hour to upload. Not gonna change it now.
Need I remind you about the Cosmic Coincidence Contest I’m hosting with Simon Larter? You have until midnight EST January 31, 2010 to submit a flash fiction story to win critiques and books and to be featured on our blogs. Be sure to check out the rules on Simon’s blog and the prizes on my blog. Please submit your story to carolsimoncontest AT gmail Dot com. Can’t wait to hear from you.