Sorry for the title. You won’t find any answers here.
I was introduced to the term emotionalism through a rejection letter for a submission of my writing recently (it is my first direct refusal of many to come, no doubt). I wasn’t directly accused, it was “proposed” in the form of a question: “is this emotionalism?” The word was hyperlinked to a video from the editor-in-chief. Being naive of literary theory and terminology, I watched it.
The title of the video told me enough: Bloggers: Emotionalism Isn’t Cool. It didn’t define the word, but it was clear that it is considered a Bad Thing.
I’m not a fan of condemning expression. Certainly I have my opinions, but opinions are as universal as assholes and bellybuttons. Opinions and advice are subjective, not definitive. As Jane’s Addiction says: “There ain’t no wrong, their ain’t no right. Only pleasure and pain.” Limits inspire fear. Fear kills creativity.
Growth is at the margins, not the center.
The site I submitted to is “non-new agey”-new agey and its focus for the most part is toward self improvement through mindfulness, sprinkled with meditation and yoga. In contrast, I have a Fight Club opinion of self improvement and the pop alternatives to religion. But, they had accepted a previous submission that I sent on a whim. It probably didn’t help that this offering was a poem. Poetry has different harmonics than prose. If you aren’t on the same wavelength, it can be hard to hear.
After watching the video, I felt defensive as self-doubt crawled out of its lair. Is that all I’m doing?
I realize that it may appear that my writing is a kind of peacocking of my woes or mopey navel gazing. I’ve also admitted that much of my writing is selfish. What kind of service, if any, do writers owe the reader? Must there be a click-bait list of solutions after confessing how we suffer? Does a story of strife need a tidy ending accompanied with a bouquet of acquired wisdom? Does dissatisfaction say more about the creator or the observer?
These are things I wonder.
I write to connect, but not necessarily in a way that soothes. I am an explorer of the dark underpinnings of the story we all share. I am a shower, not teller. Raw and authentic experience is my voice. I choose to bleed in public because most of us hide our weeping wounds in shadowy closets of shame and denial. I bleed because I believe we are more alike than unlike.
Darkness is where suffering breeds. Only through its revelation and acknowledgement can we hope to end it.
I cannot craft my words for acceptance or to offer “a way to live.” Maybe they ring true for you, maybe they fall short. The flag I raise is not one of comfort and resolution, it is of my truth.
To salute or not is your decision.