How are your feelings manifested?
For most of my writing on the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy the story and the characters seemed to flow out of my brain. Well, actually I did do an outline first but then the waves of details and change started to flow. For the outline I chose to use the tools found in Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc by Dara Marks. It is actually aimed at creating scene plays but works wonderfully for novels as well.
Even with an outline I often felt on autopilot. Looking back it seems though that my right brain was dominant with a little assist from the left.
I wondered where my characterization of Avery, my lead female protagonist, came from. And I also had to look at how I characterized her guy, Beck. What I saw was that it came directly out of my work with couples in therapy of various kinds.
Avery came out as a bright, dedicated woman but she could seem immature at times particularly when she was under stress. Of yes, having your life suddenly bombed and strafed and finding out you were part of an almost mythological body of humanity is stressful.
Certainly I wanted her to be interesting and to show emotions as she was swept out to sea as it were. But in working with couples I saw a characteristic difference overall between men and women. Women were more expressive of their emotions and the men seemed to be feeling less. Of course, what I learned over time was that they weren’t feeling less, but merely showing it less. And, in fact, there is actually research supporting that observation. When physiological indicators are measured it becomes clear men are feeling just as strongly as women, but contain it, often without tears.
So I was giving Avery free rein to show the emotional states she had to be having and Beck was more studied at least on the surface. The fact that she had a range of feelings, including some which might seem immature, was indicative of strength and not weakness. And the fact that Beck seemed more studied didn’t mean he cared less.
Our Truths Displayed Broadly
What was conveyed was human truth and we see it in places such as corporate or organizational meetings where women may show more depth of expression and, yes, be what we call emotional. When it occurs, the men often take it as a sign of weakness. Got it wrong guys. In fact, their own lack of expressiveness or muted expressiveness may be getting in the way of their homing in on the issue at hand. In some ways, with appropriate structure, laying out what we feel forthrightly helps us assess the matter at hand. Then we can move on to do the focused work needed.
The lesson is that, in writing, we might be less judgmental and more accepting of the flow which occurs. It displays how we are as people and the diversity we bring to our interactions. We can always redirect and hone our work later on. I’m sure Avery and Beck loved each other just that much more because of what they brought to the emotional table.
Where do you stand on the emotional landscape?