Friday, June 25, 2010

Adversity: Friend & Foe

It took the combination of a relationship gone bad and the dreaded 40th birthday sneering at me on the horizon to do the trick; I began writing the novel I'd been thinking about for years. That first draft took ten weeks of writing longhand in bed at night. I had a demanding full-time job, a teenage son whom I was raising single-handedly, no computer, and a mess of anguish where my heart used to be. But I did it. I wrote that novel - or maybe it wrote itself.

The more imperfect the circumstances, it seems, the more some of us in creative fields get done. I did more writing on a dinosaur of a second-hand PC some years ago than I did on its successor, the cute new flat-screen set-up I bought when T-Rex died. When the new machine revealed itself to be a dud and the visuals deteriorated, my output increased. Red and green lines dissected the screen; I frowned and typed all the harder.

Two years ago I received the gift of a brand new laptop. It was sleek, fast, hi-res, webcam complete, wi-fi ready, Bluetooth this and dual core that... I proceeded to spend most of my life with my sexy new friend. Our connection was intense - but I didn't do much writing.

Last week thieves broke into our house and helped themselves to my treasured laptop, among other things. It stings.

Victimhood is not new to me, and it sucks. I see red. I want to break things, kill with my own hands the sorry excuses for human beings who perpetrate the trespass, the violence, who turn perfectly good, sane, law-abiding people into victims, with all the baggage that word carries.

When I find myself daydreaming about blowing away two-legged vermin as they come in the door, when I seethe with rage, outrage or pain, when I feel adversities stacking up against me - something happens. A door opens in my head, ideas accrete seemingly out of the blue, and I'm writing as if my life depended on it. Maybe it does.


Charles Gramlich said...

I think the best writing comes out of need and emotion. And anger and hurt are powerful, powerful emotions. I know much of my best poetry was written under those kinds of circumstances. If you feel it, the story can flow.

Kaz Augustin said...

So so sorry to hear about your laptop, Liane. I can well understand the raging urge to Do Damage. All you can do is look for the silver lining and it looks like you found yours. Happy writing.

Stefanie Worth said...

Sorry about your loss, Liane -- the laptop and that certain sense of security thieves mangle as well.

I am, though, envious at how some writers can channel the intensity of these types of emotions into amazing works. Sounds like you'll be taking out your angst on a wonderful new WIP. Hang in there.

Phyllis Bourne said...

So sorry about huge violation of your home.

I hope they're caught in real life. And you can serve up some revenge and justice in your WIP.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean. When I lost my job due to "my position being made redundant", I went off snarling and wrote 53,000 words of vicious crime thriller. It's probably the project I was most embedded into, but unfortunately is technically some of my worst writing. I still think the plot flies though, so one day I might finish it. It was certainly therapeutic; I got to blow the place up.

I hope you've changed all your passwords!

Marissa Monteilh said...

Yes, Liane, that is a violation and I'm so sorry to hear that. I know the experience will serve well as you write about the anguish, and the deep feelings will be rich and purposeful. Our true life is indeed stranger than fiction, or at least sometimes similar to anything we could ever make up. :)

Liane Spicer said...

Charles, I agree. Powerful writing must originate from powerful emotions. And adversity is one hell of a motivator.

Kaz, it's quite alarming how much damage I want to do. But yes, there's that silver lining, thank goodness.

Stefanie, you're right on the money. Things can be replaced, usually. It's the psycological damage that takes the greater toll. Nothing like getting absorbed by a WIP to take your mind off things, though, or at least to let off some steam.

Liane Spicer said...

Phyllis, thank you for the sympathy. It helps to share the pain, along with the joy.

Captain Black, yes! Right now I feel just about ready to pull off a vicious crime thriller myself. Blowing things up would be the least of the carnage.

Marissa, thank you for the sympathy. I agree that all of this is part of the tapestry of living, and feeds the work.

KeVin K. said...

Liane! So sorry about the violation of your home.

If I was 30 years younger and still carried a gun ...
I'd be just as useless at avenging you as I am now. (One of the reasons I no longer carry a gun.)

Actually, I can't think of any practical way I can be of help -- but if you think of something, do not hesitate to call. Or e-mail.

Very impressed with how you are handling things.

Jewel Amethyst said...

Liane, I'm sorry about your loss. I know it can be a real drag to rewrite all the little ideas or starter stories you may have had, I understand your anger. However, it's good that you can channel that into creating masterpieces. Hope they catch those bastards.

Liane Spicer said...

KeVin, I'm a pretty good marksman myself; a cousin in the US used to take me along to the range with him. The exposure came in very useful when I was writing novel #2! Personal firearms are illegal here so I guess that form of redress goes out the window. But one can always fantasize... Thank you for the offer, though. ;) It helps to know I can call on my friends if I need to.

Jewel, really appreciate your concern. Thankfully, thankfully, my backups were up to date so I didn't lose any vital information. If I'd lost my files... I can't even imagine how I'd have coped with that.

Captain Black, I forgot to mention that your reminder about passwords sent me scuttling. Thank you! I'd been feeling pretty smug because the laptop was password protected, but your nudge reminded me that people can get past those things.