When the Feels are Overwhelming

Do you ever feel like your world is shaky at best, and volcanic at worst? Do you sometimes sit there and contemplate the ways of the world and suddenly feel like you’re gonna melt into a million tiny pieces? Do you get overwhelmed by the feels?

My whole life, I’ve cried at emotional commercials. My sides hitch when I read a heartrending story. The first time my emotional world well and truly collapsed into a puddle of MESS was when I watched the ROOTS series on TV. That was 1977. I’ve been crying ever since. And I am extremely unapologetic about it. If you don’t like men who cry, fuck you. If you would rather believe that boys don’t cry, go to hell. There is nothing better than a good cry. It’s as liberating as all hell.

When I’m writing a novel, I love to play those killer songs that get me every single time I hear them. I love feeling emotionally destroyed, and I can put myself there with ease…one or two of those old standby songs and I’m a swamp of FEELS needing deep emotional rescuing.

I like to write in this place of vulnerability. I just have to trust that it’s the music making me feel so deeply. If I’m not careful, I will convince myself that I am actually deeply depressed. Actually, I think it’s an extremely thin line between allowing yourself to feel deep emotional connection to a sad song and falling hopelessly into a trench-of-hell depression. It’s a slippery slope, but SO VERY worth it.

One of my last posts for ALL THE WRITE LINES was one I titled NOSTALGIA AND EMOTIONAL SOUNDTRACKS (OR HOW TO CATCH THE FEELS). In that post I talked about some of the songs that most trigger my vulnerable feelings. THE THE’s PERFECT and AND IF VENICE IS SINKING by THE SPIRIT OF THE WEST. Please click on the link I provided in the blog post’s title to read the post. I’ll wait for you to get back. See you soon! (-:

Now, today I thought I would take out the big guns. You know, for those of you who erroneously believe that BOYS DON’T CRY. The one song that can drag me down to the very bottom of my soul is EVERYBODY HURTS by R.E.M. I seriously have to hide the razorblades while listening to this song. It resonates more than anything else I have ever listened to in my history of music listening.

Sometimes, I’ll listen to this song over and over for hours. It puts me in the mindset I need to be in to write teen-angst. That’s what I like to write. I know I’m in my late 40s. It’s just…I understand being an alien attempting to navigate the high school world. I like to relive it in different ways through my YA characters. In order to do this, get myself down into that place where pain lives, I like to listen to the songs that used to put me there. There is something golden about allowing music to transform you.

IN BETWEEN DAYS by The Cure used to knock me out. In the most delightful way.

“Yesterday I got so old
I felt like I could die
Yesterday I got so old
It made me want to cry
Go on go on
Just walk away
Your choice is made
Go on go on
And disappear
Go on go on
Away from here” ~ In Between Days by The Cure

Fuck. That right there was the mantra of my teen years.

(A little P.S. on The Cure. Their music was able to uplift me every time. A lot of people thought they were mega-depressing, but they were sickly uplifting for me. Even the sad stuff. There was always a smile on my face when listening to them.)

Sometimes, when I really need to plug in to the FEELS, I sit and I listen to the songs I listened to in the 80s. Alone in my room with my shitty turntable. I needed to tape quarters to the needle arm in order for it to work. Three quarters were too many, while two were just enough. One wasn’t enough. Music owns us. It doesn’t matter how old we are. When we hear a song that connects with us on a spiritual level, that makes us go, “YES! THAT’S IT. EXACTLY!” that song will always be with us.

As writers, we get to manipulate ourselves (and our emotions). We can tinker with our emotional landscape until we’re at the exact right ‘place’ we need to be in in order to write a particular scene. I do this by the easiest means available…I listen to music.

Yeah, there’s a lot of talk about SOUNDTRACK OF MY NOVEL. But what you should really be doing is creating an EMOTIONAL SOUNDTRACK to your novel.

By the way, this works just as well tossing out a happy song that makes you smile every time. If you’re writing a happy scene, you can prepare yourself by listening to something that always put a smile on your face. My go to for this emotion was always CAPTAIN SENSIBLE. Boy could make me kick up a smile faster than a rogue car on the Audubon could lose control.

Before you sit down to write, go ahead…manipulate yourself. Have fun with it. You can be the master of your emotional landscape. You might discover that it helps your writing immeasurably.

Happy Writing!

7 responses

  1. Kevin, I agree with you, wholeheartedly. Music plays a big part in my writing as well. It can not only, like you, put me in the proper emotional place, but it can also set the mood. It is a tapestry upon which the story plays out. It is a time machine. It is indeed the emotional soundtrack.
    My wife is the true 80’s fan and it is because of her that I developed a taste for some of the more “off the beaten path” or CFNY type music. That said, I am an old soul. I love 50’s music, smooth jazz and classical. When I write, more often than not, I listen to Norah Jones. But I will also throw on The Civil Wars, Adele, The Black Keys, Mumford and Sons, Whitehorse etc.
    And those emotional scenes? Well… it’s your story and you’ll cry if you want to, cry if you want to. It is my opinion that if an emotional scene doesn’t move the writer, then it sure and hell isn’t going to move the reader. My emotional scenes choke me up too.

  2. nice post Kevin. When I’m upset and wrestling with an issue, I write the BESTest stuff! But after I get it out on paper, I’m not upset anymore!…..maybe that’s why I can never finish a novel – I can’t stay upset long enough…..I will try and extend my upset-ed-ness with SONG 😀

  3. Pingback: Finding Traction | Inkstroke's Blog

  4. You are fast becoming one of my favourite bloggers. You always have something REAL to say and I just want to say how much I appreciate that.

    All the males in my life are big cryers, and that’s why I love them.

  5. Thank you all so much for stopping by! Appreciate your comments. @Dale I love a great variety of music too. My MP3 player music list is about as manic as my personality. (-;

    @Cathy Thank you! That’s one of the greatest compliments I have ever received! I’m glad something is working at my blog. (-: And hurray for crying!

    @anonymous (-: Just try your hardest hardestest to get bigger sad feels! You can do it! (-;

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