On writing about feelings (or how to avoid writing about being in a foul mood)

I don’t usually write about how I feel. Emotions are hard to write about. Even good writers do a poor job of writing about them because they don’t readily adapt themselves to translation. Because of this, feelings respresented by words tend not to age well, and I hate cringing when I read back over something I wrote in the past.

One might argue that feelings should never be expressed in words, that feelings are really a function of human experience (think the writer’s axiom: show, don’t tell). So that if I write about what’s happening in my life, you might experience (vicariously) how I feel. Or you might feel something else, which I think is the genius of feelings. I don’t want to tell anyone what to feel any more than I want to tell anyone what to do or how to be. That doesn’t belong to me. That isn’t something I want to be responsible for. That is only something I’d want to unintentionally provoke.

Even though feelings are so fleeting, often so out of my conscious control, people tend to treat them with an unusual permanence, when in truth exposing a feeling is more like an observation of the weather. I would say I hate to be reminded of how I was feeling in the past—except in truth it’s really no big deal, and whoever might be inquiring probably genuinely cares about my well-being. And I wouldn’t want anyone to stop caring. I guess I would say I hate to be reminded of how I was feeling in the past if I’ve come to realize that how I expressed how I was feeling was incredibly trite, and that the actual feeling was entirely ephemeral.

And all too often, how I feel could be respresented by a simple formula involving a few variables of which sleep accumulation affects the lion’s share of the outcome.

6 Comments

jackie

Well, ask yourself how different giving your opinion of something is from telling how you feel about something. Your last post was all about outrage, although you never came out and said “this post makes me feel outrage.” You didn’t have to. You can show, not tell, by describing an emotionally charged situation or train of thought, and your reader can fill in the blank.

Unless, of course, you have a lot of off-limits subject matter that you can’t describe, which you do. ;)

Nice post. I don’t really have anything to add, just wanted to say I liked what you said. Or the way you said it, or… something.

I break the Justin rules of blogging allllll the time, yet you are still my friend. What a swell chap you are.

Even good writers do a poor job of writing about emotions? You haven’t read much (good) poetry, have you?

Marcia, no worries, those are my rules (or observations of my behavior patterns) and they’re a year old. I wonder if I would update them any.

Joy. Poetry. I could say more, but I’ll only say this: you’ll have to share. :)

hey justin, i really like ur view and u blog topics.
But for me you know,i heal myself through writing,am not as pro as you are am just a writer within me and i know about blogging just a few months ago so I’m not good enough,But i wanna improve myself and improve my writings,If you have time plz visit my blog and give me feed backs so i can learn from you more.(www.heart-of-champ.tumblr.com)
peace out

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