I just realized a great big flaw in my writing. It’s not subconscious — in fact, I have forced myself to do it on many occasions as it goes against my natural instincts — but I didn’t realize how detrimental it was to my work until recently. I have forced it upon my writing because this flaw has long been seen as a strength, not just by me, but by many people in our current society (at least, in America where I am). What is it?
The demonization of feel.
So often lately I hear people say things like, “don’t be so emo”, “what a whiner!” and “nobody wants to hear your bitching”. The idea seems to be that with maturity comes ice-cold logic and the ability to bury any and all feelings, especially the negative ones. Nobody wants to be an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on anymore.
And especially nobody wants to admit that they sometimes need that, too.
Like many, I have seen my emotions as something to be ashamed of, because I have been told this over and over again by the society around me. In my characters, too, I have pulled far back from their emotional development because, “readers don’t want to hear a bunch of complaining”. My characters had to be strong, tough, and above all, emotionally self-sustaining.
In other words, they had to be inhuman.
In The Counterfeit Zombies of Noc, I delved further into emotions than I ever have before, showing Tab as extremely vulnerable. I worried the entire time that maybe she was being too whiny, crying too much. But then I thought, in her situation I would certainly be crying too. In fact, most kids her age would be crying at the VERY least. That’s when I realized that I wasn’t making Tabitha a whiner, I was making her human.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There can always be too much of anything, and I have certainly found myself rolling my own eyes at certain people who can’t seem to ever say a happy, thankful, hopeful word to save their apparently horrendous, soul-sucking lives. But there’s a difference between being an emotional vampire and never admitting — even to yourself — that you have emotions in the first place. A happy medium is needed here, as it seems to be needed more and more these days… everywhere.
People have feelings, and contrary to popular opinion there’s nothing wrong with that. But if we can’t support each-other, even in the hard times — especially in the hard times — then sooner or later we’ll all find ourselves just as cold, alone, and two-dimensional as the unemotional fictional characters can can’t seem to care about.