Thursday, February 15, 2007

Saving Emotion

By Nichole Giles

“His wife is dying,” she said. “He cannot find the words to speak, so he writes them to us in beautiful, poetic emails.”

In a recent conversation with a dear friend of mine, I had a revelation. In times of great emotion, people often have a difficult time voicing their feelings. Sometimes, these people bottle them up inside, until they explode in unpredictable ways. But other times, writing about your experiences can be the balm for all of life’s worst hurts.

This same piece of writing can be key in coming back to that emotion—that moment of anxiety, fear, pain, anguish, joy, excitement or love—days, weeks, or months after it has passed. Readers love emotion, as long as it is believable. And what better way can a writer make it believable than going back through his or her own life and feeling that genuine emotion?

Be warned, however, I’ve heard that writing these things—however you fictionalize them—can be draining on the writer. Almost like living through that emotional phase of his or her life all over again.

Award winning author, Sue Monk Kidd, speaks of the importance of journaling. She mentions writing through all emotions, happy, sad, or otherwise. She writes all her life questions, and all her thoughts into notebooks. These notebooks never get thrown away, and she fills them frequently. By doing this, she is able to look back at her life, and see her own shortcomings and flaws, as well as accomplishments, as a person, a woman, and a writer.

I hope I can take her advice. I think I’m going to add one more goal to my list of resolutions this year. I’m going to start journaling my emotions. Or maybe, like the man whose best outlet of expression was through the internet, I could just print and save all my emails.


C. L. Beck said...

This blog was really enjoyable. It's so important to keep a journal, and yet a hard thing to do, even for writers.

I hope you'll try the email method. I think you'll find it works quite well. Just remember to keep a separate journal for your more spiritual moments.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks, Cindy. You're right. Maybe emailing is the easiest way to document our daily feelings. We spend so much time at emailing our friends, and so little time writing in journals. Maybe it is just another modern way of keeping track of life.

Makes you wonder what all those ancient writings on the walls of caves really mean.


Triple Nickel said...

I really enjoyed this blog. It reminded me of the time I started to email to myself some of my deep emotional experiences at work. Then I realized I hit the send to all button. Oops! Be careful what buttons you hit!
Thanks for a good blog.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks for the warning, Triple Nickel. Good point. I'll keep that in mind.