Empathy

Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickenson, F. Scott Fitzgerland… All fantastic artists, masters of wordcraft, and all fantastically depressed. This is a problem, or what I see as a problem, that I have struggled with for several years know. I make no secret of my aspirations to write a novel, but it seems those that I look up to were largely unsuccessful in other aspects of their lives. I have always considered myself an enthusiastic person. Yes, I am sensitive, but I would say I am usually more happy than sad; however, I have noticed that I write my best when something is upsetting me. This definitely poses a problem: is beautiful writing worth a lifetime of sadness? It has become an old cliche that the artist must suffer for their work, but does that mean a lifetime of suffering? Can you produce art and still be happy? I am not entirely sure I have the answers to these questions.
The problem with writing is the more you write about human behavior, the more you notice the flaws in human behavior. To create something believable, you must be sensitive and observant of the world but that requires a certain amount of vulnerability. How can you write about these emotions and evils without being consumed by them? I think of it the same ways as the detective or the prosecuting attorney who must understand the motives of the serial killer, get inside their head, become them, without letting this identity consume them.
I don’t know how to end this post, because I don’t know how to do this, or even if it is possible. I wonder if I can be both content and a meaningfully writer, and if I cannot, how can I possibly chose?

One thought to “Empathy”

  1. Joline, I think you can keep your happy personality and still write. You can notice the flaws, but then you can give ways or examples to overcome them or how we should look at fixing those flaws. You can always make the best out of a bad situation. This reminds me of one of my favorite books: Tuesdays with Morrie. If you haven’t read it, you should! It’s about a professor and student who lose touch and start up again when the professor is dying from a disease. The professor gives the student a lesson each day and how to look at death as a positive (although at times scary) situation. It also gives you perspective on how to live your life. Anyway, that was a little bit of a tangent, but it’s definitely a good, easy read!

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