One thing I didn’t count on when I started writing every day is the change in my emotional state. Generally, I’m more stable and happier because I’m actually getting something accomplished each and every day. I used to go years without feeling like I’d accomplished anything. Now, I know each day, I’ve made a dent in moving myself forward. When I wrote this, I was on a week-long trip in CA, and awake at 4 AM PST. I’d been rolling around trying to stay in bed for the better part of two hours. Getting up has become a habit for me. That’s good because I’m lazy at heart. It means that even when I want to stay in bed, I can’t because I’ll be lying there awake. So up I got. And the rest of my day was good because I got started early, and got a few things done first before the work day starts to intrude.
But what I didn’t see coming was the awakening of my emotions. I don’t want to say I’m more emotional now, because that implies that I’m having trouble keeping them in check, I’m not. But I feel them more. I saw a big dog dead in the middle of the road last weekend. Clearly, this was someone’s beloved pet. He was big and white and clean. A Samoyed or something of that ilk. The thought almost brought me to tears. I saw the images of the owner finding their pet dead on the side of the road after searching for him. A few weeks earlier, we saw a tiny kitten lying dead isn’t the middle of the road, but a road with a 20 mph limit, not a main road. Again, I almost broke up. My wife did, but she’s on meds to keep those things at bay.
So what’s changed in me? I’m looking inward daily. I’m mining my thoughts and feelings on a daily basis, and it’s spilling over into my normal life. It doesn’t bother me in the least, but I do feel the difference, and I almost welcome it. We experience life through our feelings. It’s what determines which memories get stuck in there for good, and which ones get discarded at night. I’ve long had a theory that when I’m old, I won’t remember the calm times, the even-keeled days. I’ll remember the peaks and valleys. I’ll remember the extremes. Because those had more emotion tied to them.
I only bring this up because I think I knew this would happen somewhere in my consciousness. It’s one of those things that I feared as a writer. I’ve developed a pretty macho exterior, like most guys do, and try to maintain a modicum of masculinity. There are days I think my car obsession is just to balance out my sensitive side. I’ve always been emotional, don’t get me wrong, I’ve just never spent every day poking and prodding my emotions until a year ago. Quite the opposite, I spent most of the time trying to ignore them, or push them down so they don’t pop out. But now, here they are, right at the surface, ready to jump up and say “Hi” at the slightest reason.
I’m not sure how I feel about it, actually. I like being sensitive. The opposite seems too robotic and non-human to me. But then, I watch too much sci-fi. Writers need to be able to tap into emotion. Let’s face it, it’s the emotion that makes people keep reading. It’s how they connect with your work. Through emotion, they feel the same way, they see the same thing you’re writing about. If you have the skill, they cry with you.
Everything is tied together, isn’t it? I realized this when I was in college and still in my early 20s. One day, you read something that makes you realize that all branches of education are related. You read a story from the 1800s, and the history of the place and time add to the story. They give you context. The science of the time adds to the history and gives you even more context. You realize you can’t fully understand a work of art without understanding the time that created it. How did people at the time think? What pressures were they under that are different than today? Which ones are similar. It all comes crashing together one day, and you realize that you don’t know a thing and that there’s a world of knowledge out there for you to try to understand. It’s invigorating and frustrating at the same time.
I try to stay out of religion for the most part, but I can say that I am a thoroughly confused hopeful Christian-influenced believer in something. There are too many things that go right in my world to trust it to chance or even my own skill. I’ve had a leg up. The universe has helped me. But there’s always some cost, isn’t there? Nothing happens the way you envision it happening, and nothing is ever quite right, but generally, I get to move towards what I want. My prayers largely go answered as long as they are heartfelt and are for other people, or simply “please help me” or “give me the strength.”
I have a strength that I cannot say is my own. I certainly don’t deserve it. I’m not devout, and I regularly break more commandments than I care to talk about. But I don’t hurt people. I don’t hurt anything except insects, generally. And even then, only the ones that are really bugging me. Anything more, and I probably just try to get it to move along, move outside, etc. Living things are living things and we have enough problems in the world as it is, why destroy when you can create?
So am I more emotional, or am I just more in touch with my surroundings? I can’t say for certain. My artist side would like to think I’m just more in touch. I think I’m just dealing with the after effects of thinking and writing each morning. You can’t do this every day without some sort of blowback into your life. I’m OK with that. I’m comfortable with who I am these days, even if that means I might tear up at the sight of a dead animal, or a clearly homeless person, not a beggar, but someone who is truly homeless and does not want to be. My heart walks the line between feeling sorry for them and protecting myself because I’ve been scammed before by people, so I’m very untrusting when it comes to those situations. But some things are hard to fake. That’s probably why my emotions are usually cast towards the animals – they can’t scam me.
I’m at a new beginning now. I can notice my emotions without having to immediately react to them. That’s good. I can also analyze why I feel the way I do, or what triggered that emotion and try to figure it out instead of rationalizing or judging my feelings. I am this way, so be it. It doesn’t have to define who I am, it’s just another personality flaw.
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8 thoughts on “Writing has Made Me More Emotional”
Fascinating read, thank you! I’ve often thought of the ways reading affects me but have never properly considered what impact being a writer has had on the way I move through the world. I mean, there are the obvious things – the hyper-awareness of narrative, the instinct to look beneath the surface of things and wonder at their origins and the story that lies behind them; whether it’s a person sitting on the bus, or a bicycle leaning against a lamppost. But thinking about it, it’s so true how writing can begin to reconfigure you on a more visceral level. Or, as you say, awaken you at least. It’s hard to know which it’s truly doing – changing me on the inside, or simply igniting more of what’s already there?
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Thanks for the comment, Micah. It’s definitely a “chicken or the egg” problem. I don’t think I would be so exposed, so in tune with my surroundings, if I wasn’t focusing on something to write about all day long.
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I’ve always been over sensitive, right from the age of three or as far back as I can remember. So, now that I am writing every day, (after I took your sage advice) I am worse too. We are living life, like you said mining our own thoughts and feelings. We both, and stacks of other artists too, are living life at it’s most intense. I regret to say that commercials with babies in them on TV are able to bring me to tears. Sad, I know. I love baby ducks, baby pups, kittens you name it. That is what sucking the marrow out of life is all about. And, you are doing that. Shrug off the negatives and embrace it, we are alive, living and kicking.
Yeah, I could have given more examples – but it gets ridiculous. Studying Stoicism at the same time, and mindfulness has helped me keep it all in check somewhat, and reserve that energy for writing. I never said I’m unhappy with it 🙂
I love this. This is the state of any true artist. Over sensitive, over reactive, over deep and over angst. But it’s a beautiful place to find yourself.
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Thank you, I never thought of it that way, but you’re right.
You’ve always been emotional…once you find an outlet, it’s like a flood trying to squeeze through a mouse hole! So much emotion! So hard to control!
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True – I’ve just been pushing it down for a long time.