20 September 2010

I Don't Believe In Depressing Fiction

Finally, I figured out why it is that I don't like depressing fiction in any form. I thought about trying to explain this to some of the people that know me in person, but really, it's a kind of weird, complicated answer and it would sound silly in person.

It might still sound silly written down, but at least here you all expect me to be strange :D So, blogging it is.

(You do expect strangeness, don't you? If not, I'm not sure where you've been the last few years.......)

So, on to today's randomness: why I don't like depressing fiction.

For years, now, when people try to convince me to watch a sad or depressing film or read a sad or depressing book, I've resisted. When pressed for a reason why, the best I've been able to come up with is that my life is sad enough, why would I want to be sad in fiction too? And besides, I'm a writer, it's my job to resonate with the feelings of characters, and when I read/watch depressing/sad fiction, my imagination goes crazy putting me in that situation, and it's really depressing/sad.

Now, all of this is true, but in a way (I've discovered in Today's Random Brainwave), it's also the cop-out answer. Because the real answer is much... well, stranger, and more complicated.

You see, I realised this morning - or perhaps late last night, I can't recall now and it doesn't matter* - that it's because deep down, I don't really believe in it. Now, you can see why that would sound majorly strange in person: no, sorry, I won't watch depressing movies, I don't believe in them.

Um, yeeeeah. And I'll bet you don't believe in the lovely men in white coats who I'm just going to go call now to come visit you... Riiiight.


But this is why I like writing: it allows me to clarify, and no one can interrupt me until I'm done, bwa ha ha. >:) (control freak, much?) Because what I really mean is this: I don't believe in it for me.

Now, don't get me wrong: I've had my share of crap in life. Friends dying suddenly with no warning, family dying prolonged-ly after many many years when we thought it might all be all right; parents divorcing during my final year of high school, my husband having study-induced depression; me having depression; other friends having depression and attempting suicide. Pets dying, financial strain, life pressures - yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. Been there done that.


I still don't believe in sad/depressing fiction. Because I believe there's more to life. It might be that I'm religious, or it might just be that my personality is this way, but deep down inside of me, I am never, ever convinced that the sad stuff, the bad stuff, is all there is - or even that it will win. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel, and even if it's a train, well, at least if you're clinging to the tracks as the train barrels over you, desperately hoping that it's not going to collect you as it whizzes past - at least you're lying down. Things can always get worse.

And things can always get better.

And, I don't know. My mind insists on the better. It's like that story I heard once in high school (probably junior high to you USAians) about the man who'd somehow managed to break both legs falling from something (or something, yay fuzzy memories) and yet was smiling and laughing and joking when the ambulance people came to pick him up. They asked him how he could be so happy, and he told them, "In life, we have only one choice: to be happy with what we have, or to be sad. I choose to be happy."

Now, y'all that know me will be shaking your heads and raising dubious eyebrows here, because HELLO, we all know I'm hardly Miss Queen of Peppiness, especially if it's before 8 in the morning. I'm not claiming to be some kind of super-freak happy queen. All I'm saying is, I trust in my deepest of deeps that everything will work out okay in the end. I live by the saying, "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

So depressing fiction that says there's no hope, that there is nothing in the world worth saving or living for, or even that there is nothing at-all-zero-zilch-absolutely to be grateful for, in even a tragic situation - well, it just doesn't fit with my world view. It doesn't resonate with me. I have to work to 'get' it.

And really, when there's so much good fiction out there, why waste time on something I know I'm going to have to make an effort to get, and that the 'getting' thereof will make me sad?

Well, because it's good for me and expands my horizons and reminds me how other people live and all that blah blah blah. I know that. Which is why, every now and then, I let myself be convinced and I watch/read something sad/depressing. And cry for the rest of the day :P ;)

So there you go. My random piece of strangeness for the day, allowing you to see deeper into the inner workings of the mind of the Inkly One. You may now run away screaming; I promise not to chase you.

* Clearly evidenced by the fact that I spent not only a parenthetical comment on it, but also a footnote :P


ClareB said...

I AGREEE!!!!! :D just so you know, this does make sooo much sense, at least in my world! I also apply this sort of theory to all the slasher/horror movies/books.

Even if the books and movies are only 'make-believe' or even spoofs of something else... they can still leaves residue images and thoughts in my brain that sneak up behind me at the least opportune moment -like when its dark and I'm walking to the car by myself and the shadows seem to move...

And by choosing not to fill my head with all that stuff there is no source for all those nasty gremlin thoughts to draw upon. :)

Spammy said...

I agree with you, Inky One. But I like novels that are sad in the middle and end either happy or at least in a 'things are going to get better' way. And here's one of my strange reasons for that.
I have never, ever, EVER cried because a novel, story, movie, play, song, whatever. Ever. So I guess I'm kind of looking for something to make me cry. But I don't like them to end sad because then I go away feeling like Nietzsche. Strange minds ftw!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

You did a wonderful job describing this! I hope Cinders isn't depressing for you. Bad and very tragic things happen, but I do believe it ends on a very hopeful note... :)

Amy Laurens said...

Clare - Yay! I make sense to someone! *does a celebratory dance* Yes, shadows in the night are horrible *shudders*. *anti-gremlin cookies* for you :o)

Spammbles - I don't mind bittersweet endings, as long as there is some sense of hope at the end, not a bleak, depressing ending. But yes, strange minds ftw! :D

Michelle - Cinders was great, and the ending was fine because it fit, and there was still a sense of hope. It wasn't bleak, so it doesn't count as depressing fiction ;) :D

Anonymous said...

Agreed so much. The world is sad enough; why can't fiction be a refuge from it? I don't mind somewhat-depressing fiction if there's enough of a creepy-factor, but there has to be humor and lightheartedness, too (e.g. Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, it'll have you laughing hysterically, crying (sad-tears *and* happy-tears), and screaming in fear, sometimes in the same episode! It takes a while to get to it, but there's a happy ending. Each arc also has some very hopeful and heartwarming parts interspersed. Keiichi's speech about taking charge of your own destiny still gives me the warm-fuzzies just to think about).

I can only handle it in visual media or fanworks of a visual media, though. I *cannot* do depressing books. I outright refused to read some of the books that the assigned us in high school, because I could not stop thinking, "But what if this were ME!?" the whole time. I once failed entire marking period for it, but fortunately, the rest of my grades were high enough that I still got an A for the year.

Thanks for writing this. I feel a little less like this is something that needs "fixing" and more like it's just another neutral way that I'm different from 99.99999% of society now.

Always remember, "different" is neutral. Negative connotations abound, but it's no better or worse than just one shirt being green and another being red. It's the same with people.

Amy said...

Anon - thanks for your awesome comment. I TOTALLY agree with you. I don't mind sadness etc, so long as there is a happy ending. The ending determines the message/feeling of a story so much.

Heh, I've heard comments from some of the students at school about how many depressing books they get set. I and a couple of the other teachers are on a personal mission to fix that :D hehe. I don't see why a book has to be considered 'less serious' just because it has a happy ending :\

Thanks for chiming in :o)

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