Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Writing With Rage

Sorry for not posting yesterday. Been having a bit of a rough time with getting everything done. The ironic thing is that I've been mulling over today's subject for days now, and I just didn't get time to write it down.

Before I get into it, though, I just want to give a shout out to writing buddy and Untethered Realms co-conspirator, M Pax. Her new book's out:


In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendants to survive in a harsh universe. This is the sixth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure.

The Backworlds hang by a Quantum string, a thread about to snap. Annihilation is coming if Craze can’t stop it.

The genocidal alien he had trapped breaks free, destroying a ship belonging to the Backworlds’ oldest enemy, the Fo’wo’s. The murderous alien wants to overtake the galaxy. The Fo’wo’s want another war.

The Backworlds’ best chance to survive is to overcome a century of hate and forge an alliance with the Fo’wo’s. Because of his history with the alien, Craze is recruited to represent his people. Now he’s the most hated man in the galaxy.

The looming war will be a holocaust unless Craze can stop it, knowing salvation comes at a price.

Buy links: Amazon / B&N / iBook / Googleplay / Smashwords / Kobo / Other


About M. Pax:

Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers, and one of her cats has a crush on Mr. Spock. You can find out more by visiting her website.


Okay, shameless plug for my friend is done. Now we can get to the main post.


Writing With Rage



When Terry Pratchett passed away, I read this article by Neil Gaiman that explained that Terry was really a very angry person and that that fury underscored and drove every single story he ever wrote. Go ahead and read it if you haven't. I'll wait.

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When I first read this, I wondered what that would be like. Channeling one's rage into our stories and having that inform our writing. Then I sort of forgot about it and went on with my life.

Then this weekend came. This weekend, I heard something on the radio that enraged me so much that I didn't know what to do with it. You'd think it's my country's politics, or the stupid things said by a politician, or even the huge amounts of people who are getting killed for seemingly no reason. Uhm... no.

Actually, it was a grandmother that said something completely unfair and unreasonable about her 18 year old granddaughter on the national news. I'm not going to go into it here, and you'll understand why in a second.

The point is that that old hag woman's words literally tore into me so deeply that I actually screamed out in pain on the girl's behalf. And then the rage came, boiling away under the surface. I talked about it to my mother and grandmother. They completely agreed with me. And I know that if I wrote it all out here, you'd agree with me too.

It was ridiculous. And worse still, I don't even know why the national radio station even put it onto the news. It wasn't news. It was the freaking Jerry Springer Show. Except the 18-year-old wasn't even there to defend herself. She's not allowed to, because her identity is being kept secret to protect her privacy.

In that moment, though, her protection had become a gag and her grandmother betrayed her for 15 minutes in the spotlight.

And from my point of view, talking about it just isn't making my fury go away. So instead, I decided to channel it elsewhere. I'm changing it into a story.

Not to cash in on the news (which is HUGE here). In fact, I assume that by the time the story's done, everyone will have moved on. But this will become a story. So right now, my rage is going into forming the ideas.

Making this decision made me think of Terry Pratchett, though. And I realized that really, I do this all the time. My War of Six Crowns series is full of things that infuriate me. I once wrote a short-story after seeing a documentary on TV about a jock murdering a punk just for dressing differently. (You can read it here.)

I'm just usually so subtle about it that I didn't really even realize what I was doing. I mean, I never really aim for a larger message per se. I don't put my authorly intentions before my story. But in writing, I can explore the darkest parts of our lives. I can try to make things right in the story. I can do my best to find the bright spot in the darkest of nights. And I can make readers regret when things can't be fixed.

That is what I do as a writer. Maybe it won't change the world, but hopefully by working my raw emotions into my writing, I'll one day touch the people reading as if I'm there. Maybe one day, I'll get someone to scream at the injustice in my stories and in so doing, open their eyes to what's going on around them.

If I do that, my rage will not have gone wasted.

Have you ever thought about your rage in your writing? Or am I one of a few people to do this? 

14 comments:

Murees Dupé said...

Yeah, living in South Africa myself, I have a lot of anger issues too. I stopped listing to the news and reading papers. It's too depressing. I guess that's why I kill so many people in my stories. It is great that you channeled that anger into your story. Your writing will be so much better for it.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I think that's an important part of being a writer - taking things that some people might not hear about, or understand, and giving it a wider platform. We should be writing from a perspective of high emotion - both positive and negative.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

At least you are doing something productive with your anger.
I guess it must take rage to write the darker stuff, because I've tried and it just wasn't that dark.

celinejeanjean said...

I read that article about Terry Pratchett and at first I was really surprised, since his books are so funny and lighthearted -- on the surface. I recently read Snuff, and then I realised I could see all the underlying rage now,rage against injustices in the world, against people/creatures being treated like animals because they're different, rage against indifference, against corruption, against so many things -- but all delivered in the perfect Pratchettian way, with enough humour and wit that you don't quite realise it's there until you look.

I've never tried channeling rage into my writing but I think any kind of strong emotion works. I've channeled other emotions and the resulting stories have been much better than when I wrote without any particular emotion in mind. I'll be intrigued to see how your story goes, be sure to let us know when it comes out!

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Life can be very busy and offers twists and turns, so being late or even missing a blog post isn't a terrible thing. :) Keep making your progress.

blogoratti said...

Everything can get really difficult at times and also infuriating, so hope you are finding inner peace on a daily. Thanks for sharing!

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats to Mary!

I haven't really thought about channeling rage into writing, but I'm more of the peacekeeper type person who tries to figure out both sides, even if I don't agree with a certain side. I can see why channeling an emotion could really work for a story, though.

Nick Wilford said...

I'd read Neil's article before, as the intro to Terry's collection of non-fiction writing, and it made a lot of sense to me. He did try to overturn and address a lot of injustices, but as Celine said, veiled in a layer of wit.

I think our deepest emotions come out in our writing and we might not even do it consciously. I'm not an angry person from day to day, but that doesn't mean I'm not angry about corrupt governments, killings and all sorts of other things - and I've written about these. I think many of us have an element of trying to set things to rights in our writing.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I find writing is the best way to deal with rage and other ugly feelings, but I often deal with them in blog posts, or at least I did when I had a personal blog.

Writing is our therapy, and it makes sense to use it to cleanse ourselves of destructive feelings like rage, jealousy and hate. If we do this, it's a win-win: we get to feel better, and the world gets a story it can relate to. My first adult novel came from impotent rage. I was so angry about something I had to write about it.

Rachel Pattinson said...

I think it's a good thing that you're channelling your emotions into your writing - not only will it allow readers to connect more with your writing, but it's also a healthy way for you to express your emotions (or, that's what I think anyway!).

It's funny you should mention this - a few weeks ago I was shaking with rage (over a personal issue) and I realised that I needed to get out of my head before I did or said something I'd regret later. So for the first time ever, I wrote. I didn't start a new story - I used my anger to fuel my current WIP. I still don't know if it's made it any better/worse, but it really made me realise that when all seems lost, or if I have nowhere else to turn to, I can always write. I felt much better afterwards :).

Christine Rains said...

I've never really thought of about it, but yes, I do add in things that make me angry. We put a lot of things into our writing whether we realize it or not. Yay for Mary! :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Not at all, Misha... RAGE is an EMOTION and as writers we MUST put emotion into our works to make them plausible.

Think on what writers and what stories appeal to you most.... for me EMOTIONAL. PASSION drives a story and RAGE is passion.

Yes, an author can gloss over certain rages and weave them in very subtly, but they ARE THERE....

It's good to put RAGE into a story. It is our jobs as writers to make our reader FEEL SOMETHING. Even if it's RAGE....

Tara Tyler R said...

i'm so enthralled with your post today - i wonder what could possibly have made you so angry??
and am amazed that terry pratchett wrote away his fury in such hilarious, yet ironic stories - he found the humor to take away the anger maybe?
and i agree, we writers take in what happens to us or around us and transform it and express it to others, inspiring more emotion - it's our way of dealing with life and helping others deal with it too!

great post!

Misha Gericke said...

Murees, I also tend to not read news etc, because it does make me an angry person on the whole. Unfortunately for me, I live in a house where 1) my family constantly has RSG turned on and 2) Where we have dinner more or less the same time as the news. So I couldn't help hearing this particular bit of bullshit reporting.

Annalisa, I agree with you there. I do write from both positive and negative emotion, but I find people always try to sweep the dark side under the rug and I don't know why. It makes us better writers to dig into emotions that others might flinch from.

Alex, I think it does. The one scene in my series that almost twenty very different critique partners have called a visceral experience to read came from a very deep and old well of fear that I keep hidden.

Celine, I agree. Any emotion works. We just need to be brave enough to tap into it.

Thanks, Terry. :-)

Blogoratti, I am generally more at peace than I was when I was young. But sometimes, things like what I wrote about drive me up the wall.

Cherie, I'm really good at seeing both sides of a story. Which was actually why I got so furious. Because I could just imagine how much going through all this crap must upset the girl who wasn't asked for an opinion.

Nick, I think so too. I was quite surprised when I thought back and realized to what extent I do channel my emotions into stories. At the time, I usually think it's just something I write, but later, it does hit me exactly what I wrote and why.

J.H. I'm the same. Sometimes, I think writing is better than going to a shrink, because it lets us do something productive (even positive) about the negativity in our lives.

Rachel, I do that too! And usually, I feel amazing afterwards. Recently, I wrote over 90k words in a month and a half while constantly in a stressful situation. POSSIBLY because I was so furious with the people causing the situation.

Yes we do, Christine.

Michael, I couldn't agree with you more. If I can't connect with my own writing on a deeply personal level, I can't expect the readers to do it.

Tara, it's so funny that you're saying this. Maybe you connected to the anger I've let show. ;-)