Friday, April 25, 2008

Creating emotions

Do we have the power to create or generate our emotions?
I received a copy of a letter a dissertation writer wrote--a comic letter to his dissertation--about how he looked forward to burning a copy of his dissertation and being free from the project.
Now I wonder whether such a letter is cathartic and allows one to move through and past the emotional difficulty, or whether it reinforces the perspective that the dissertation was a bad thing--or both.
I thought after reading it that it was a sign and symptom of a dysfunctional dissertation program if multiple students in the program were having that kind of feeling.
I thought that it would be nice if that wasn't the feeling that we had when we finished our dissertation.

I don't know if it's possible to create emotions.
I do know that it's not likely that you'll finish your dissertation without any problems.
The question is whether you can approach the dissertation and all its problems in a way that will allow you to finish without becoming bitter.

I think that focusing on what you can do to finish and what you have to do to finish can help with this. If you focus on what is yet to be done, that takes away from the time that you can spend focusing on what has gone wrong, and the injustices you have suffered and any other problem that you had faced.

Julia Cameron talks about her wall of infamy and using material that makes one mad to write. I guess that's one way of doing it. I guess that you can take all the strong emotions and use them all to drive your work forward.

I don't like that approach for myself. Maybe it's just that I am too familiar with the darkness, with bitterness and anger and despair. But I feel like inviting those emotions in for the purposes of writing is still to invite those emotions in and to encourage all their effects on my body and psyche. I find that I write best--even when writing about things that do make me angry--if I can tap into my positive emotions and my hope for a positive future. Even hen dealing with something that makes me angry, the real motive force to continue working lies in the sense that there is a positive possibility for the future--that by working on something I can make things better. This could be called naivete, but ultimately it is the foundation of great works. I may not be great or achieve fame and influence, but if I am driven by my hope of something better--not just my anger, but my vision of a positive future--then I create with vigor.
It is writing as hope and dream for the future, rather than writing as catharsis and acceptance of the past (though I recognize a place for the second of these as well).

No comments: