Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Intensity and Writing – A Match Made in Heaven…Maybe

As promised, here is the guest post by our fabulous Christine Fonseca :)

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:

A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.
To him...
a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.”

– Pearl Buck

This is my absolute favorite explanation of what it means to be creative. And intense. I have been immersed in the world of writing for more than a couple of years now, meeting writers in every genre and at every stage in their career. And I can say that pretty much everyone I have met is intense to some degree – they all live the above poem.

I think emotional intensity refers to how a person interacts with their world. At its best, it enables the reader to bring the level of emotion to their stories that creates “voice”, it allows for connections between the reader and writer, between the writer and the world, and it gives the writer the perseverance and drive necessary to make it in this crazy business.

But, at its worst, it becomes the internal turmoil that has the power to consume the writer from time to time – sometimes with highly dysfunctional and disastrous results.

But good – or bad – it is ultimately who were are! The trick, learning to manage it.

Learning to take the good aspects of intensity – the ability to fully suck the marrow from life and pour it onto the page – and manage it against the bad. Learning to balance the demands of a writer’s life – not to mention the crazy roller coaster ride of emotions that happens regardless of emotional intensity.

Learning to harness the intensity into a tool for writing.

Yep, managing emotional intensity is the key!

What are your thoughts? Are you intense? Odds are really good that you are.


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Nisa said...

I think first we need to recognize that we are intense. Until my college experience, I knew I was a little different, but didn't realize in what way. I knew I had strong emotions, but I'd never connected them to my creativity. Knowing that, I've been able to pour my emotions into something rather than have them running amok. I think that's why it's so important writers write, singers sing artists create art etc. When I don't, that when I notice my emotions getting out of control.

Though there is a conscious decision to keep them in check as well. The above really helps me. A lot!

Matthew Rush said...

Hmm, interesting post Michelle, thanks for sharing. Personally I definitely feel emotions intensely, but I tend to be a pretty laid back person when it comes to acting on them.

Tearing up even during cheesy movies is probably as bad as it gets for me.

I suppose perhaps I express myself by writing but I don't think that's quite it either ...

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Considering I cry at almost everything (yep, even Kleenex commercials), I'd say I'm emotionally intense. And it took me several drafts of my wip before I quit crying at certain scenes. I still tear up at the ending. I don't know. Maybe my hormones went wacky with three pregnancies!

Christine Fonseca said...

HA! Stina - I still tear up with my novel.

Anonymous said...

Boy sometimes intense just doesn't cover it. Talk about highs and lows.

On the other hand, I can't see myself giving it up. My writing life has been so enriching.

Cynthia Reese said...

More than intensity, maybe it's extreme empathy we writers feel? I know I can't watch sit-coms because I feel so painfully embarrassed during the usual, de rigueur Moment of Humiliation for the Main Character. And yes, sometimes, while I'm reading, I will read through my fingers, just as if I were watching an intense, I-can't-watch-this scene of a movie.

OK, I'm weird!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, uh, "intense" doesn't even begin to describe it. But I've come to accept that it's part of my makeup and lends itself to my creative mind. I can be pretty happy with that, even if it causes some awkwardness with family and friends who don't understand it.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post! Emotional intensity is ... well, it's life. Nothing harder to imagine than living life by saying bleh to everything. I'll take my ups and downs thank you!

Christine Fonseca said...

Thanks everyone - for sharing your insight!

Christine H said...

I tend to shy away from intensity, because in the past I've been accused of being melodramatic. But then my writing was flat and boring. So I'm trying now to work it back in.

The voice used in most fiction these days seems to be harsh and cynical, which isn't my voice at all. So I'm trying really hard to convey emotion without sentimentality. It's very difficult.

L.T. Elliot said...

Oh, I'm definitely intense. Too much so. But I'd love to hear how you combat your intensity. I'd love to know how other writers deal with it because sometimes, mine overwhelms and then paralyzes me.

Christine H said...

L.T., one way is to make sure I'm not being redundant. Forcing myself to pick and choose my words carefully, so that each one contributes something new to the reader's understanding, helps me reduce over-writing and over-intensity. Another way is to read it out loud and see how it sounds.