I’m not much for lengthy self reflection, but when a writer friend asked for more description in a specific scene I wrote, I found myself defending
“The Kind of Writer I Am.”
(You should imagine me reading that bit in a strained and passionate failure at Morgan Freeman’s voice. Go ahead, give it another go.)
For the record, she was not asking me to be something I’m not. Her comment was valid and constructive. But it struck a chord, because, like humans, I tend to read into things that people say sometimes.
I began my response as a preemptive defense of why I chose to avoid denoting specific emotions in the scene.
I ended up on a soap box.
After I got off the box, I decided I needed to save this little gem of egoism for holidays and other special occasions, like when I feel like I’ve failed to live up to who I am as a writer. Here it is:
I like the idea of whatever it is being ambivalent, here. I don’t think the character could pick a specific emotion. She’d have to root around in her head to get it, and by then, the moment would be stale, and the reader would be looking at a perfectly rendered still life, instead of the poignant impressionistic painting I was going for. In my opinion, that’s the kind of writer I am. I don’t like to dictate what the character feels. I like to describe the impression of the feeling. To me, that feels more real. We don’t walk around saying “I feel good. I feel bad. I feel bittersweet.” If we have inner monologues at all, we comment on the physicality of our lives and the residual leftovers of memories that we play over and over. The emotion doesn’t exist separately from the living.
Of course, in the very next paragraph after the scene I so brilliantly defended to a live studio audience, here’s what I wrote:
It felt nice.
Oh Irony. You are like a nagging mother to me.