Monday, October 28, 2013

"Why Don't You Write Happy Stuff?"

Why don't you write happy? As a writer who dares to write dark pieces every once in a while, I get this question a lot. If any non-writers are reading this, be assured that this is an incredibly annoying question to us writers. For me, it's especially annoying because it's simply not true. The better question would be, What compels you to write sad pieces?
This is a deeply unhappy world that we live in. There are absolutely lovely, wonderful pockets to it, but it doesn't change the fact that life is tough for a lot of people. For a long time, I was a deeply unhappy girl struggling with depression and anxiety. Of course my work isn't going to be happy all the time (or even most of the time) because that doesn't reflect my reality and it doesn't reflect the reality for many of the people around me. Refusing to acknowledge this fact is ignorant. There are certain issues that need to be talked about and talking about it through my writing makes it easier.

Happy writing certainly has its place. We can't be depressed 24/7 and continuously writing depressing stuff isn't healthy at all. In fact, continued depressing writing can sound repetitive, cliche and leave you in a rut (as my work from my black periods will show). Happy writing is a wonderful form of escapism. When I write my fantasy or romance novels, I do that. I can't do that all the time, though. I'm a human being and I'm not happy all the time either. That wouldn't properly represent my experience. 

Sometimes, I need to let out my negative emotions or make sense of some of the things that have happened to me or the people I know or even in the world itself. And so my bleaker pieces emerge.

And oftentimes, they're the pieces that rise to the top. For whatever reason, my darker pieces are the better ones. I think that's because they have more intensity and more soul. Darker pieces tend to be more raw, more authentic. I grow from the darkness in my life and my poems grow along with me. As much as I love being happy, happiness doesn't shape who you are or make you grow as a person. Darker pieces are more memorable; they're the ones that resonate with people.

My favorite pieces are ones that make the reader feel a range of emotions. That's why I love black comedies and tragicomedies so much. Those pieces represent life the best and all of its ups and downs. It helps avoid cheesiness or ridiculousness. I try to do those as well. I also enjoy pieces that aren't fully dark, that have a little bit of hope.

My dark pieces definitely do have that for the most part. Most people seem to ignore that. I shared a piece during coffeehouse and, while I got many compliments, one guy went on and on how bleak it was. Never mind that it had a happy ending and that everything turned away in the end. My protagonist in my poem struggled but then things got better. 

A friend of mine described happy writing as "fluff". In a way, I have to agree most of the time. When something is happy, it's harder to make it memorable and authentic. There are exceptions but most of those fall in the tragicomedy section anyway. 

So there you have it, that's why I don't write "happy" all the time. Please stop asking me. 

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