Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Angst, angst, angst

It's time for another blog chain, and this time I am at the end of the chain. If you want to follow it from the beginning start here with Archetype. Or if you want to read in reverse order you can find the blog preceding mine at Mary Lindsey's Weblog.

So this month's question is:

Some people argue that creative people need “angst” to produce good work. Do you? What emotions drive you as a writer?

My answer to the first question is easy. No, no, no, no - a thousand times no. Angst is what stands between me and my work - whether it be good or bad.

For me, angst is the chatter inside my brain that drowns out my story and makes me decide to sit in front of the TV instead of the computer. Or at other times when I decide to push past the angst and just write, damn it - then the angst is more like having the car covered with a pile of snow that needs to be brushed off, or in some cases maybe even chipped off , like when a nice layer of freezing rain covers it, and then maybe the locks are frozen too - this used to happen to the car I drove when I was in high school, and my mother's solution was to throw a mug of hot water at the lock, which got me in the car, but during the drive to school the lock would refreeze, which meant that I would have to crawl into the passenger seat and then kick the door to get myself out of the car. Sometimes, getting past the angst so I can write feels just like this.

So, to answer the second part of the question - if it's not angst that is driving me, then what emotion is? My answer here is a little less certain, because honestly I don't really feel emotional at all when I'm writing. At the point where I am writing and in the story, I feel more analytical than anything else. I don't laugh at my own jokes, cry when I hurt my heroine, and shake my fist when the villain gets away with something terrible. And while I am thinking about what emotions my characters are experiencing, I am not going through them myself.

If anything the emotion that drives me to write is ambition. The ambition to tell my story the best way possible and in a way that rings true.

Archetype began this question and she will wrap it up too over at Archetype Writing. The next question will start in a few days with Michelle McLean over at Writer Ramblings.


  1. Oooo, great post! :) I am currently angsting over the fact I have to pick the topic next - but you answered this one excellently :D I like that you are analytical when you write. I tend to be more analytical during the whole edit process...which might be why it takes me so dang long to get that part over with :D

  2. I love the chipping away at a frozen car analogy!

  3. You poetic thing, you!

    Look at you with your ice-encased car imagery. Particularly poignant for me since I actually HAD to chip ice off my car this morning.

    Love your post, Kate!

  4. I can picture you kicking your car door open in the high school parking lot...HA! Great post Kate. I do hurt for my characters with some of the things I put them through, but I do become more analytical during revision.editing time.


  5. Kate, great post! I'm totally with you on not angsting during the writing, but before, after, and any time in between. When I sit down to write, everything is right in the world. It's all the other times when everything's gone to hell. I love the story of throwing hot water on the locks! I've never done that and I live in the freaking freezing Rocky Mountains! Ha, ha!

  6. Oh, I feel for all of you who are living in those cold and snowy climates! I can't believe it's been over five years since I've had to get through a Northern winter, but the memory of some things just sticks with you forever.

  7. Yeah, ambition is a big emotion--and just plain determination to write when I'm just feeling "blah" about my story.

  8. Great post, Kate! I'm always amazed at how different we are. We seem to have the polar opposite answers to these questions :) It's fun seeing everyone's answers but I always look forward to yours for that reason.

  9. This is a great post. I'm sure I would've gotten past my five-year writer's block if I could just kick an icy door every now and again.

  10. Great post! You tell the best stories/use the best metaphors to explain your writing process!