Friday, May 29, 2009

The Rawest Emotion: Is it Possible to Capture Anger in Writing?

Anger is, to me, the strongest--and the strangest--emotion.

There are a couple of characteristics to my anger that are I guess maybe a bit unique. In general, I have an extremely long fuse--it takes A LOT to make me angry--but an extremely volatile temper when I finally get there. We're talking car-kicking, door slamming, cell phone-throwing, screaming obscenities angry. I don't get there very often.

And then there's this passive-aggressive thing I do (passive-aggression is something I hate in others, by the way--I'm a hypocrite sometimes, although I hate those too), most often in writing. When I'm angry and I write about it, there's always this bitter, acerbic, downright mean tone, stuff that I would never dream of saying to anyone's face and stuff that has at times gotten me into varying degrees of trouble if I don't rip it up fast enough.

Usually when I'm angry, though, I just cry. That's me in my typical angry state--crying because I have to let it out of me somehow.

What's entertaining is that my students say to me all the time, "Do you ever get mad, Mrs. L? Like, ever?" I have not yelled at a single student in my current school (well, except as a joke, and the class knew it was a joke). It's hard to explain how one can have infinite (and in some cases, beyond infinite) patience with children, adolescents in particular, yet go postal on Verizon Wireless tech support or scream, "Motherfucker!" when you drop the shampoo in the shower or punch a wall or write angry letters or e-mails you never plan to send. I have never and would never raise a hand in anger to either Addie or Belle, yet I broke the blinker on one of my cars I slammed my hand down on it so hard.

Looking at my completed novel, I've found that I've shared aspects of my own anger throughout. Interestingly, it's never as simple as saying, "Character A" is a passive-aggressive letter writer, "Character B" destroys objects when angry, and so on. It's more the different mixes each character gets of how I see and view and feel anger.

Anger is probably the most difficult emotion for me to write about, and I'm just wondering if it's because anger is the least easily defined, understood, or controlled feeling of what I, a human being first and a writer after, experience.

PS. Writing helps my anger a lot. Like, beyond a lot. And I'm not talking about those passive-aggressive epistles that almost always get destroyed before they see the light of day. I'm talking writing like this : ) I wonder why that is?

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