Does one need to feel numb before writing a sad scene?
Probably not, but it helps.
It’s rather like sadistic directors during the years of the Hollywood studio system telling child actors and actresses their puppy died to get them to cry for a scene in which they needed to cry.
Goodness knows, today’s headlines are enough to make one feel numb, lonely and a bit hopeless about the state of things.
I have a sad scene staring me in the face, one in which I want the hopelessness of the situation to be thicker than fog. I’ve been avoiding writing it. I knew what it needed, but I wasn’t numb enough to create that.
So, to solve the problem, I raced through two, high-adrenaline, page-turner spy books. You know the type: ISIS vs. the U.S., Russia vs. the U.S., the kind of books where the authors explain weapons and commando methods in detail, the kind where both the good guys and the bad guys kill a lot of people like they’re just playing a video game.
The books are a rush, but when I’m done reading, I feel numb, wondering whether such tactics are what we need to keep a democracy safe. Human life in these books is very expendable. Now I’m depressed enough to write the scene.
It’s almost like somebody told me my puppy got run over.