I’m at my most creative when I’m angry. That’s made me rethink emotion
If I’m furious with you, as in, full blown livid, I’ll walk away. I’ll leave the room. I won’t reply. I’ll ignore your email. I don’t do confrontational explosions. Never have. I do something far worse.
I had a boyfriend who once wrote a poem, entitled ‘To Be The Lover Of A Writer’. It wasn’t a love poem. It also wasn’t untrue. After a fight, he’d warp on paper into a grotesque beast, snarling out of metaphors and garbled snippets of truth. He’d sit back in astonishment.
“Is that how you see me, Maddie?” A long pause. I’d still be so furious that I’d be biting my pen. “Is this how the world will see me when all that’s left is a pile of books kids study for in exams?”
If you didn’t know me well, you’d think I just avoided conflict. I get stressed, I get frightened, but it takes a lot to make me shout. It takes a great deal for me to snap. So my anger is more scrawled shorthand of an Anglo-Saxon tone, filled with creative swear words and poetry written on the back of a Starbucks napkin or the forward page of a paperback I’ll never read. I don’t hit people. I don’t scream. I write.
And I’m very, very good at writing monsters.
This is both a blessing and a curse.
I can easily scrawl out a story about a sociopathic hedge fund manager, an adulterous travel agent or a loveless politician. I can sew in the cruel words that leave our mouths when pain is all that’s left in our lungs. I can remember the way your face looked when you slammed the door, broke the plate or kicked the wall. It’s healing, in a way, to give archetypes a comeuppance on paper, to play puppet master on how the world should be, but is not. But when people see how you perceive them to be, the results are fairly unpleasant.
No one likes being cast as the antagonist.
I find writing incredibly relaxing. It’s meditative. You can completely lose yourself for an hour in any time or place through an alphabet of letters. I can reframe my anger as something meaningful, something that allows me to have my tantrum away from the people it may hurt. Often, I destroy my work if I don’t want it to upset anyone. I can always write again.
And that made me realise that anger, far from being something to be ashamed of, has its benefits. If channelled correctly (into a short story, rather than a nasty email) it can blossom into an expression of sadness, powerlessness and loss that helps you process the complexities of life.
My anger is valid, and my expression of it, while weird as hell, is also valid.
(Just make sure your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t find your diary in your sock drawer.)