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Pack Up Your Sorrows

M82 from Hubble

M82: Galaxy with a Supergalactic Wind
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, The Hubble Heritage Team, (STScI/AURA)

“A crucial ingredient for the formation of a novelist – romantic humiliation and heartbreak. The unhappy childhood gives you the tool of observation. Unrequited crushes, romantic despair, a few memorable breakups, will give you something to write about,”    Jennifer Weiner,  author of  “Good In Bed” (2001), “In Her Shoes” (2002), “Little Earthquakes” (2004), and “Goodnight Nobody” (2005)

Things Writers Need to Know

For the most part writers, especially the fiction variety, draw heavily on their own life experiences to create a literary world to which the reader can relate. This idea remains firm regardless of whether the author is writing  “roman a clef”, such as Jack Kerouac or Hunter Thompson, or producing science fiction stories a la Isaac Asimov or Ursula Le Guin. In many cases, sorrow and despair can be one of the more powerful emotion forces behind a good story.

 

When Things Fall Apart

Ariel Gore put it this way in her fun read,  How To Become A Famous Writer Before You’re Dead:  “When bad things happen to writers, there’s always the glimmer of a good story”.  This is an age old principle that has probably been employed since the dawn by  storytellers all around the world.  In fact, one of the most popular books read today, The Bible, is filled with stories of heartbreak and tragedy.  So if something bad comes your way, finding a story in the event, is just one way of transforming the experience into something meaningful.

Pack Up Your Sorrows

“But if somehow you could pack up your sorrows

and give them all to me

You would lose them, I know how to use them”    

lyrics from Pack Up Your Sorrows, written by Pauline Baez (now known as Pauline Marden Bryan)

This  song, which kind of reiterates what was already stated above, was made popular by the singing duo of Richard and Mimi Farina, but actually written by Pauline Baez, the oldest of the three Baez sisters.   While Pauline’s two younger sisters, Joan and Mimi, grabbed the spotlights, Pauline remained behind the scenes. Nonetheless, she was able to create one of  the  best remembered songs of the 60s. This little lesson should not be ignored by ambitious young writers. And that is you don’t have to be in the spotlight to be successful and, more importantly, you can never predict which writing effort will be most important or where it will come from. And for all you readers, who get tired of just reading about the song, you can go here and actually hear the words accompanied to music.

Don’t Get Carried Away

One word of caution. Don’t go out and get overwhelmed by sorrow. When heartbreak comes in large doses, it may be such a defining event that you may never recover. …. .And also as a corollary concept, remember that pre-meditated sorrow may not produce good literary results. Your heartbreak must occur naturally.

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