Digging deep

By way of melissa_writing, an interesting discussion in which jaylake wonders whether genre provides emotional distance and matociquala suggests that in any genre, if it doesn’t hurt, we’re doing it wrong.

I’m thinking I disagree with them both.

I don’t think genre particularly provides emotional distance; I think we can go just as emotionally deep–or fail to get just as emotionally deep–in any genre. That’s been my experience, anyway, though I’ve written much more fantasy than anything else.

But going deep isn’t the same as having the writing hurt–because pain isn’t the only thing one finds, when one digs deep. Joy and confidence run as deep as despair and doubt.

The protagonist of Secret of the Three Treasures is all about utter and complete confidence and conviction. The protagonist of Bones of Faerie is all about utter lack of confidence, about the fear that who one is will never be good enough. Not surprisingly, writing Bones hurt at times; writing Secret didn’t.

But both stories run just as deep, at least from my perspective as a writer. I had to tap just as deep a vein to get at Tiernay’s joy as I did to get Liza’s despair.

As writers, I think we really do have to dig deep. But when we dig deep–there are many things to be found down there. We shouldn’t flinch at the jaggedy edges, if that’s what we find, if that’s what the story wants. But it’s not all jaggedy edges, and lack of pain–for the writer or the reader–is different from distance or lack of emotional depth.

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