Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Using Anger (Passion) as Ballast
You would think the holidays wouldn’t be a time when people feel anger, but emotions can run high around this time of year. Despite a number of changes in the U.S., there is a lot of uncertainty, which means a lot of fear and, often, no small amount of anger. It could be over another rejection letter, or any of the other thousand frustrations that arise in a day. One safe place for anger, channeled correctly, is in writing. A writing colleague I recently spoke with said that one of the main ingredients lacking in writing these days, and an underlying reason for agent rejections (aside from an abysmal market), is the lack of passion. If we don't feel passionate about our work and if that passion isn't reflected there, how can we expect our readers to respond, to feel strongly about the book or the story? Think about the response elicited by Philip Roth's writing — not for the fainthearted, but it certainly strikes the soul, making the work unforgettable. Anger, emotion, passion can become a spark that ignites weak characters, a bland setting and flat dialogue. Of course, it's important to channel that passion in a productive way — but that's what editing is for. So use your anger and your passion, and fan your work into flame!