So I know Yoda would disagree with me on this one. He would say not to let your negative feelings control you - put anger aside - "your weapons, you need not", etc etc.
But Yoda is a jedimaster, not an aspiring author.
Yesterday I found out someone I knew in high school died. At first, I didn't feel much of a connection to this death. After all, I haven't spoken to this person in five years - so isn't he (for all intents and purposes) already dead to me?
Today I discovered, its not the same at all. Before he wasn't dead - despite the fact that he was out of sight and out of mind. Today sitting in my cube, my writer's imagination got the better of me. I was thinking about Mike - his death - and about the wife he left behind. They were married in November. They've only been married for seven months and now he's dead. I began trying to fathom how awful this all must be for her. I began to attempt to imagine how sad and angry she must be (presuming the truth has fully hit her and she's not in denial). And I began to get angry. (I'll also admit I teared up a little).
I began to troll the web, looking for some clue that someone had stood up and taken notice of the fact that Mike McGahan was dead. I found a few articles, but only in local papers. I was angry that cnn.com and bbc.com and the other major news network websites I read did not care that 10 people died in Afghanistan on Sunday/Monday (depending on time zone). It was one of the deadliest days for NATO troops since we entered Afghanistan. Already it was old news to them - not something they would be discussing anymore (if they had ever discussed it all). This made me angry.
And this anger made me want to write in my new WIP (WIP = work in progress = the novel I'm currently writing. I'm not making this acronym up. Writer types us it all the time).
My critiquers (aka critters) don't know this yet because they're only on chapter three, but my new WIP is much darker than the other things I've written. I don't think they're expecting that because one of my critters made the comment to one of my characters statements: "This makes the character seem too dark. I think I would change this." I didn't change it because you're supposed to think that character is a little dark.
So I used my anger that I'm feeling at Mike's death to write a scene that's coming in my WIP - a scene where my MC (main character) is also angry because someone she cares deeply for just died. She's angry at Fate/God for letting it happen, she's angry at herself for standing by and letting it happen, and she's angry at the society that created the situation where this would happen. She's angry at everyone.
It's been a long time since someone I know died. The last death in my family was a suicide - which is an entirely different type of feeling from someone getting killed like the character in this story.
I finished writing that future scene - finished capturing those feelings that are so fresh in me - and then I thought "maybe that's good enough - maybe that rid me of all these feelings and I can just go read and enjoy a book now". But it hasn't. I tried to read and just got fed up with the book not expressing the feelings I want to express. So I went back to my WIP and starting working on the next chapter.
Granted Chapter 4 isn't exactly a tragic death scene and most of the emotions felt are on the happier side of the scale. However, I know where the story is going - and if some of the darkness I'm feeling leaks into my writing, then it's just doing a better job of setting the tone the story needs.
Because this story is dark - probably the darkest I've ever undertaken.
So for this once I'm going to set aside Yoda's advice. I'm going to use my anger and darkness to write about a character who is angry and dark. I'm going to use my anger at society - at a world that has wars and lets good men like Mike McGahan die - to write about a character who is angry at society.
And maybe a small thing will grow out of Mike's death. Just a novel - something inconsequential in the grand scheme of things that will mean nothing to his wife who must be filled with sorrow - but it is something. It's the best I can do. It's all I have to offer. So it's what I'm giving. Today I write for Mike and Miranda.