Emotional Blockade

Emotional Blockade

I love a book – or movie/television show/song – that makes me laugh and cry. Throw in a few “aww” moments, and that piece of entertainment will likely end up on my favorites list. Every now and then, I enjoy a dash of edge-of-your-seat excitement or scared-poopless fear, but even in my down time, I’m not a big adrenaline junkie, but tug on my heartstrings, and I’ll be a fan for life.

Some readers are all about fantasy-fulfillment, and don’t get me wrong, I too am a big fan of romance heroes who’ll run to the store at three a.m. to buy tampons and ice cream or cool-handed heroines who can keep their shit together and save the world, all while looking sexy and approachable, but for me, the very best stories, the one’s I remember forever and re-read over and over again, are the ones that tap into my emotions. I love to cry and laugh and scream and celebrate with my favorite characters. In fact, my favorite moment in every book is that first time someone says, “I love you” aloud. My heart twitters right along with the characters’.

Expressing emotions has been front and center on my mind lately. It’s been almost exactly one month since Hurricane Harvey spawned a never-ending rainstorm over my little town – 50+ inches in 72 hours. Ninety percent of the 20,000 residents had their homes flooded, me included. Now, I’ve lived on the Gulf Coast my entire life. This was not my first Hurricane. Hell, it wasn’t even my first experience with massive rainfall and rising waters. It was, however, the first time a natural disaster turned me into a victim.

The scope of the loss and destruction is horrendous, but the odd thing is, the fact that that loss and destruction are so universal dulls the edge a bit. I mean, yeah, 80% of my house is sitting in a wet heap on the curb, but then again, so is everyone else’s. In a way, the community-wide aspect creates a camaraderie that makes the entire thing a bit more bearable, a bit more “normal” even.

So, as I’m dealing with my new status as a disaster survivor, I find the best way to move forward is to tuck my emotions away and simply tackle the next thing – which is why emotions have been on my mind so much lately. Not because I’m drowning in my own, but because I feel like I’ve hit an emotional pause button.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine a time when life returns to normal enough for writing to once again be a part my life, but at the same time, in rare moments of quiet, I find myself trying to figure out how this experience will make me a better a writer, and oddly, I think the way I’m currently fighting back my emotional responses will ultimately make me better at expressing characters’ feelings.

I haven’t allowed myself much time to cry over the possessions I’ve lost, but at the same time, I’ve become overly-protective of the things I still own. Belongings I didn’t even like before the storm are now prized possessions. This irrational attachment to my “leftovers” sparks ideas for future characters and scenes and plot points.

On the other hand, I have a neighbor who can’t stand the idea of retaining anything that was touched by flood waters, to the point that it took several professionals to convince her not to pull out every square inch of tile floor in her home. This degree of germaphobia is totally foreign to me, but her response just begs to become a character trait!

Another life-lesson to remember when I return to the fictional world is that in the midst of “dealing with it” there’s not a lot of introspection happening. It’s not as though those thoughts aren’t clamoring in all our brains, demanding attention, but we all seem to find something vital to do or concentrate on to keep from dwelling on thoughts that will lead to self-pity. Humor is a good distraction. So is anger. And outrage. And alcohol.

Experience has taught me that once the dust settles and my recovery is complete, once I and everyone I know and love have safely recovered from this traumatic event, the emotions will come. In fact, I’ll wager that in roughly a year, all these stifled emotions will rise to the surface and demand to be dealt with. With luck, I’ll find a way to grow as writer (and a person!) when that delayed response finally hits.

Dawn Temple

Back when her twin sons were young enough for daily naps, Dawn Temple took advantage of those quiet moments to pursue her dream of becoming a published romance writer. Sneaking in an hour here and there paid off in 2005 when she sold her first book, To Have And To Hold, to Silhouette Special Edition. She managed to secret away enough time to write and sell the second book in her Land’s Cross series, Moonlight And Mistletoe, but alas, her boys outgrew naps and Dawn let go of those stolen moments with her laptop to enjoy life with her two little guys and her big guy, hubby of 21 years.
But now, as an officially retired stay-at-home mom, Dawn has once again found the time and the creative drive to return to writing, and this time around, she’s set her sights on independent publishing. Her first self-published book, Peace of Heart, is scheduled for release in 2017.

3 thoughts on “Emotional Blockade

  1. What a great post! And an awesome attitude. Yes, eventually I’m sure you’ll be using this life experience to deepen your emotional connection on the page. And, since pre-Harvey your writing already grabbed your reader’s emotions by the throat, can’t wait to how Harvey enhances that! Good Luck with all the clean up and recovery! It’s a long road, but eventually you will reach the end of this journey.

  2. My hat’s off to you, handling the Harvey aftermath as you are. You definitely aren’t alone in having to sideline the emotional in order to move forward with the practical, and you’re right: It can be a huge help to know you aren’t the only one dealing with it all.

    Once those postponed emotional responses have been released, I know you’ll corral the experience into some terrific characters when you have the time and mental space to dig back into your writing. You’re a wonderful writer, with sass and grit and humor and heart, and a wonderful woman, with sass and grit and humor and heart.

  3. Well, goddamn Dawn. I don’t know what the fuck to say to that. I was out of the country when the hurricane and subsequent flooding occurred, and my house was spared. I can’t begin to imagine how losing so much of your life feels like or what goes on in your head as a result. The only way I can share this with you is through your words. You’ve already shared a bit face to face, but reading about a character going through a similar experience will take me way down deep. I know you will have some poignant observations when you eventually work your way there. I’m willing to wait – even if it takes a year or more. Meantime, keep on keeping on. Love ya, sista!

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