Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m an optimistic realist. I believe in focusing on the good in things while still being able to acknowledge the bad. I do my best to glean whatever I can from ugly situations and apply them to my life in an attempt to grow as a person. On the surface, one would think that I was not an overly emotional person because of these abilities.
I’m a VERY emotional person, and am greatly influenced by the emotions and feelings of those around me. I’ve thought a lot about this recently, trying to discern if these emotions serve me in life, or hinder me from living it fully. I take things very personally, even things that shouldn’t register at all. I have a tendency to let the negativity of others overtake me, rendering me paralyzed in a way that can be absolutely debilitating. This is clearly not a helpful manifestation of my emotional sensitivity and an excellent example or where it becomes baggage. I’m working hard to limit myself to only one carry-on sized bag 🙂
The flipside to this is that these senstivities have allowed me to understand and read others in a way that few can. I really get people. This ability to read and dissect the personalities of those around me has led me to be able to develop characters who are true to themselves, no matter the cost. I was criticized recently by a few readers for having characters who did/said/thought unrealistic things. I’m willing to concede to many things, but I can’t to this.
Writing a character means being willing to follow where they take you, and not force them into situations/discussions that they wouldn’t normally find themselves in, just so you can follow an outline or accomplish a goal that you had laid out for the story. That leads to dissonance in a story that can’t be ignored by any reader. I truly feel that if you take the time to understand the characters in the Caged series, and follow the subtleties laid out in their back stories, you will never feel that sense of unease. Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t feel uneasy about choices they make or directions they go, but you will understand them.
Recently I wrote a chapter for Fractured that had me holding my breath as I wrote. I fought back tears — hard. A particular character took a twist that not even I saw coming, but in analyzing her behavior and back story, I saw that it made perfect sense…and it hit a little too close to home. I could have let those emotions paralyze me, keeping me from writing what I think could be one of the best scenes in the series thus far, but i didn’t. I pulled those emotions out of a dark corner in my mind and immersed myself in them. The outcome was a thing of beauty.
Many things can come from pain — including healing — but it’s all in how you choose to use that pain that really matters. Pain and stasis versus acknowledgment and growth. Everyday we choose to either count our blessings or haul our baggage.
…And I make every effort to lighten my load 🙂