Friday, May 25, 2012

The Scene You Don't Want to Write

I have been struggling recently with a scene in my new novel, Cry Me a River.  I have done everything I can to procrastinate, avoid, and fret.  I have researched, I have worked on other projects (this blog, for instance), I have socialized on Facebook and Twitter, and I have read books.  Now, three days have passed and I have written a grand total of 455 words. 

The problem is, the scene causes me emotional and physical pain.  Why? Well, when dealing with emotions in my writing--anger, disappointment, joy--I try to embody those emotions within myself while writing.  I feel this allows me to portray those feelings with more honesty and realism.  The scene in question deals with the death of a loved one (a daughter's ashes are being returned to a Colombian village).  To properly be "in the moment," I have to emphathize with the mother, with the bearer of the ashes, and with the missionary who had enabled the relationship with the American husband that took the daughter from her home country. 

Some of these emotions, I have a difficult time processing.  I do not willingly want to expose myself to those raw feelings.  They are too visceral, too heart-wrenching.  So, I hem and haw, waste time and don't do it.  Can I write the scene without tapping into those emotions? Sure.  But it wouldn't ring true.  I want a masterpiece, not a soap opera or a television drama. The risk is that without embodying those emotions while I write, I will overdramatize them.  Melodrama:  something I want to avoid.

The task at hand is daunting, but not impossible.  Like many people, I am stalling.  The truth is, I WANT to write this scene.  It is a pivotal, powerful scene, full of conflicting emotions, drama, and love.  I want to write that.  I want to feel those things.  With sadness, grief, anger, love, joy, disappointment, and desire, we are attuned to life.  We know we live if we experience these inner tragedies and victories.  My book is about embracing life, and so this scene is important.  Perhaps that is why I am stalling:  I want it to be perfect.  I want it to be powerful.  I know that means it will take a toll on me as a writer, the creator, if I want it to convey something to you, the reader. Is that so bad?

Off to work I go.  I hope to have it finished by Monday.  I will let you know how it goes.