Can I borrow a feeling?

As a writer you can’t help but empathise with just about every thing around you. Being empathetic is a very useful thing as a writer as you need to be able to get inside the head of the character you are writing about, to feel as they do, and anticipate their reaction to the situations you put them in. In effect you are borrowing feelings and channelling them into sentences. If you’re successful, then your readers will be hooked. They’ll fall in love with your characters and your story, villains and all, and keep coming back for more. Great writers are not always those who actually write the best (I mean look at the Da Vinci Code – terribly written, but obviously compelling to enough people to get made into a movie) but who create the best stories, with the most vicarious characters. 

However, there is a huge down-side to all this. Firstly, for me, it means I tend to cry in movies … a lot… because I feel what the characters on the screen do. Similarly, certain TV shows are now off limits for me, as I can no longer watch awkward shows, which sadly is a staple of British Comedy, one of my favourite comedy genres. English people are just so awkward, and the way they deal with awkward situations is hilarious, but I get so caught up in that awkward feeling that I literally want to crawl under the couch and die. Urgh! Even thinking about it now is horrible! 

Then there is the problem of empathising with inanimate objects, that obviously have no feelings. For example, you see a car parked by the side of the road and one of it’s headlights is smashed, and to you it might just look like a pranged up car, but to a writer it’s a sad, forgotten creature who has come to harm at the hands of some human ogre. OK, maybe that’s a bit over the top, but all I’m saying is there’s a reason the Herbie films were so popular, why KIT (the car in Knight Rider) talked and why kids and ‘grown-ups’ love the animated Cars movies. I also hate throwing out anything. I feel bad for it. Like Andy’s toys in Toy Story… Yah huh. Now you’re getting it. 

If you’re not a writer though, by this time I’m guessing you’re probably thinking, this lady is bug-arse crazy, and I would be the first to agree with you. I sound rather unhinged, but hey that’s why I write. All the crazy has to go somewhere and on the page is as good a place as any. Well, it’s either that or I start a 3-piece, cutlery-inspired, pots-and-pans folk band with the neighbourhood possums and come play out the front of your place. On Saturday mornings. Before you’ve had coffee…. Ya huh. Now you’re definitely getting it. 

Image taken from The Simpsons

Jo Jette