I haven't been reading too many novels lately. Well, I have but the ones I've been reading aren't published yet. I say 'yet' because I'm convinced they all will be. I'm working my way through three books my friends have recently finished writing and I'm absolutely blown away by their talent. And jealous of it. Very jealous!
As I can't review these books (until they are gloriously snapped up after hefty bidding wars, obviously) I haven't got too much to share about what I've been reading lately, so I want to focus on the writing side of things. I've been meaning to blog more about my own writing for a long time now and, well, there's no time like the present. Because I'm incapable of starting a series of posts without giving them a wonderfully cheesy title I give you... Writing Rambles.
Today I wanted to talk about my personal process when it comes to writing about feelings. Specifically, romantic ones.
The first novel I wrote had no love story in it. I was pretty proud of myself for accomplishing something I didn't think I'd ever be able to do. Since then, however, I've been all about the love. You see, I'm in love with love. I always have been. It's a running joke between me and my friends that if I had a fetish it would be love. Saccharine, isn't it? And because I'm so in love with love I find myself writing about romantic feelings a lot.
On the whole I try to keep myself separate from whatever I'm writing, obviously, because nobody wants to read a novel's worth of catharsis. But the one time I'm happy to let myself run riot is when I'm writing about that beautifully painful period just before a new relationship blossoms. You know what I mean; when every song you hear becomes about them, when you run through perfect scenarios with them in that hazy five minutes last thing at night when you're halfway between waking and dreaming. That's my favourite thing to write. The wanting, the daydreaming, all of it.
And it has to be right. It has to be spot on. Most people have felt this way at some point in their lives so my main aim is to make a reader think back to the first person they fell for. I want to take them right back to that time, I want it all to flood back and stir old memories. When my characters are feeling this way, I want my readers to feel this way too.
I listen to music a lot while I'm writing, particularly when I'm writing about love. For me, music and writing have always been entwined and the right melody, the right words, can be the thing that flicks a switch and gets me in the perfect head space to articulate what my characters are feeling. I always have a playlist full of songs like this (usually titled 'Emo', fun fact for you there!) and there are a few gems that I know will always, always inspire me (hello 'Honey and the Moon').
Music aside, I have my own memories that I draw on when I need to. Without going into enough detail to shame me if any 'real life' friends read this, there is a wealth of angst that I keep locked away in the ol' feelings vault that I can trot out when I need to put my protagonist through a bit of longing.
It's the funniest things that can trigger old memories or make long-forgotten feelings bubble up. For me, it can be something as small as the memory of a boy who once walked me to work on a Sunday morning because he wanted to spend an extra twenty minutes with me. Or the one who always kissed me twice on the forehead rather than once because he knew I thought once was bad luck. Going back even further, it could be the boy who asked me out by sending me a song and telling me to listen to it (for reference, I was fourteen and the song was I'd Do Anything by Simple Plan. I thought it was the most romantic thing that had ever happened to anybody, ever).
Things like that last one, I laugh about it now and I can barely even remember the person in question but being able to conjure up how I felt at the time really helps me with my writing. Being boy-obsessed and melodramatic does come in handy sometimes. Occasionally. In this situation only.
Those three things I mentioned up there are all insignificant little details that wouldn't mean anything to anybody else but to me those memories are so intrinsically linked to the relationships they spawned that they take me right back to the 'he's so dreamy, I can't stop thinking about him, WHEN IS HE GOING TO KISS ME?' fracas.
So unrequited love, failed relationships and love near-misses aren't all bad. They can provide excellent fodder when you need to channel some feelings while you're writing. HASHTAG ALL THE FEELS.