Write What You Hate

How counterintuitive does that sound?

I am not talking about picking a genre you can’t stand and writing in it. That would hardly be productive (though it might, perhaps, offer up a challenge to those inclined toward such things, I suppose). No, what I am getting at is another variant on the old chestnut of writing what you know. There are numerous sensible folks out there that have pointed out that writing what you know should not be literally interpreted as writing about your life or about your exact experiences. A broader and more useful interpretation is to use your emotional experiences to help drive your characters. And here’s where I come to the crux of writing what you hate. Hatred and anger are emotions like any other. They may be ugly and very not nice, but they are real. Everybody feels it (whether they admit it or not). Everybody has different pushbuttons that set them off–and most often we’re not in a position to really do anything sensible to blow off steam. Like today–decking my boss is not going to do me any favors professionally. So what am I to do with all this pent up angst and fury?

Well, I’ll tell you. I’m going to go vilely murder someone. On paper of course. I find that, not surprising, I often write my most intense murder and death scenes when I’m pissed off. Sublimation of conflict into writing. It’s all a nice lovely higher order defense mechanism a la our old buddy Freud. It is a socially acceptable way for me to vent. Even if the victim I’m writing about isn’t the person I’m angry with (and I’ve posted elsewhere about that) , the entire process is incredibly cathartic. I have long maintained that mystery/suspense/thriller writers are the most well-adjusted of people. Instead of bottling up all those negative emotions we let them gush out onto the page, hideously maim or kill someone, and we’re all better.

I won’t go into what’s set me off today other than saying it’s my boss. But suffice it to say, I should have a really good murder scene by the time I go to bed.

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