Those who read my madcap romantic comedies may be surprised to know I have a dark side. Which isn't so odd when you think about it. How do you know you have light unless it cuts through darkness? In a very Machiavellian sense, one creates/defines the other.
I think of my writing like a perfume. Comedy is the happy top note -- the first thing people notice and pick up. It engages the senses and is pleasing. Darkness is the base note -- that underlying depth that allows the lighter scents to delight. It lingers longer and works on a different part of your senses. A peripheral awareness that changes how you perceive the whole.
So far, I haven't combined them equally in one story, though I suppose all my stories contain a subtle dab of the other end of the spectrum. A touch of black in the humor. A touch of humor in the despair.
I just finished getting my first novel length romance edited for a full request. I love this story. Between the Gutter and the Sky was the reason I started writing in the first place. A fire in my belly that demanded to be quenched. But, despite humorous banter between the hero and heroine, this is no comedy. In fact, the story dipped into dark, skinned off areas of my past. Places that maybe should have remained hidden. Locked away. Because Gutter deals with control coming from emotional
pain. How love can break through that control and yet cushion the pain to make it bearable.
Yeah, Gutter is personal. I wait with baited breath to see how others will react to this story, to see if it resonates with their own dark, skinned areas, too.
My reactions to editing this piece made me reconsider the whole "open a vein on the page" philosophy. Yes, hopefully it makes for stirring, emotional, resonant reading, but how does the author recover from that? How do you stem the bleeding? Get your shit back in the box?
I put this to my fellow writers over on Romance Divas, and thought their insightful suggestions should be listed here, in case you, too, need some emotional first aid.
Mama Divine: burn a copy of it. one page at a time even. bury the ashes. plant a tree or something in the spot. and then have something bubbly to drink.
Lisa: talking about it with someone I trust. Then, once everything necessary is said, I spend a few days mulling it over before I realize that the past is the past-done and gone and nothing I can do about it. I can choose to let whatever happened have power over me, or I can choose to move ahead.
Nell: Open a special file and spend the first five mins of your writing time getting it out of your system in there then go ack to what you want to do.
3jen: calm and center yourself. Going running (almost every day) does that for me. A combination of the deep breathing, the exertion that burns off excess adrenaline, the sensation that yes, you can run away from your problems
Adelle : Bring pen to paper and get it out, so you can let the past be the past and move forward.
Seeley : if you feel the need to 'talk' blog it under a different name. That way it's not only written, it's out there.
RG: Exercise, stretching while you allow yourself to breathe aka yoga, sitting with your feet/or bottom firmly on the ground and allowing yourself to "root" into the earth for balance. You'll find the physical movements help with the mental. If you need to focus on why it is you feel this way those activities should clear your mind enough to separate thought and emotion.
Ashley: Writing itself is cathartic. When I get like that, it's the ONLY thing that exorcises those demons.
Kristen: endorphin-releasing activity might be good, dancing, singing, sex - whatever
Cup of Noodles: I simply use it
Cinthia: WRITE IT....longhand on paper. In a journal, a notebook, whatever. There's something very meditative and deeply personal about the connection between our emotions and the paper with the pen/pencil acting as a medium.
So if you find yourself bleeding and shocked after finishing a piece of work, firstly, kudos. It takes courage to bleed. But mostly I hope these suggestions bring you comfort and healing. In shared wisdom and experience there is strength.