1. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    must not write mysteries

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by jazzabel, Apr 19, 2013.

    Hi guys,

    I have a dilemma and was hoping to get some advice.
    I've been told by my Chinese doctor, that I shouldn't write mysteries because they are a strong Fire element (all the anger and murder). Instead, I should be focusing on Water - romance, sex, comedy, travel, that I should nurture sentimental energy in my writing, lighter topics and strong emotions.

    I wrote something exactly like that between 2006 and 2010 (my short stories and a novella). Then I started a vampire novel I've been wanting to write for ages, but I put that project on hold in order to write mysteries. I have never read romance novels ( not since Danielle Steel in high school) and I have no interest in that type of lit. I adore Murakami's Wind-up Bird Chronicle, which is practically a study of the Water element, but I don't write like that, not even close.

    So now I'm half-way into writing an exciting detective novel and facing a dilemma. For my health and well-being (yin/yang balance) I should leave my crime stories well alone. I am completely lost, don't know what to do.

    Have you ever felt that your writing project is hurting you? Did you give it up? How would you deal with this kind of situation?
     
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  2. Sargon of Akkad
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    Sargon of Akkad Member

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    Please forgive my boldness, but your Chinese 'doctor' sounds like a quack who doesn't know what he's talking about. If you want to write mysteries, write mysteries.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do quite a bit of Chinese metaphysics (astrology, feng shui etc) so I relate to the whole yin/yang and 5 elements theory and I can see the logic in what he is saying. I wish I could just dismiss it but I am scared to.
     
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  4. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm just wondering why he has told you that? Does he think there is enough mystery/murder or other dark matters in your life right now that you need to lighten up or is he just a cheery old sould who wants the world in general to chill out?

    If its for your own good maybe you should put in under wraps for a while.

    If it has no mental effects on you whatsoever then just move some furniture round, leave a tap running somewhere and continue your story.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    "The fault lies not within our stars, but within ourselves." - William Shakespeare.

    To that I would add, just because you believe it doesn't make it so. If you choose to limit your writing, that is your choice. In answer to the question, no, I have never felt a project was "hurting me" in the sense that you mean here.
     
  6. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    If you want to forget that we live in a rational world, and instead have your life ruled by superstition and quackery, then listen to your doctor.

    Base your worldview on logic, reason and rationality. Seriously. ;)
     
  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @erebh: Something like that, my friend, exactly like that. He isn't gunning for one or the other, I don't know his personal tastes. We were just talking about how I can ensure that my health continues to improve in the next period. Writing is very helpful for my balance but he pointed out that the healing writing for me would be in Water element (romance) rather than strong Fire (crime, thrillers). I was a bit caught out by that and a month later, I am not sure how to proceed.

    @Ed: If someone told me five years ago that I will be considering this course of action, I would have laughed them off. Not me, surely? But life puts us through the paces, and somewhere along the line, we can lose the certainty we were feeling before problems struck us. At least I did. But I totally understand what you mean.

    @Swamp Dog: I am a doctor by profession (now a writer full time) so I can relate to your words. But also, I've always been open-minded to Chinese medicine and aryuveda, I can see fascinating sense in their approach. Plus, it's helped me in the past. I suppose what I am struggling with is the feeling that he is right but also having a strong Fire within me, it is natural that I will be leaning towards that. Plus the obvious - the reflex to dismiss anything that is difficult or weird or " unscientific".
    But it looks like it's not a common feeling, to feel your work is hurting you.
     
  8. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    While I'm not so eager to dismiss someone's beliefs (whether I agree or not) I have to point something out. You were happy when you were writing your mystery, weren't you? You seem like you were happy, even excited, to be writing what you love. The thought of writing "Water" type books clearly has you upset.

    Maybe writing what makes you happy is better for you? I write what's already in my head. If I tried to write a police procedural because someone said it was better for me, I'm pretty sure my head would explode.
    Even if he was (what most would consider) a real doctor, it wouldn't mean he was absolutely correct. Sometimes people are wrong, especially those that you pay for some kind of result.
     
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  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you listen to your inner self, you'll know when yin and yang are out of balance. I think it's obvious that your doctor's advice is, in this case, incorrect.
     
  10. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Trish and shadowwalker: Thank you for that insight. It occurred to me that maybe I'm taking this too black and white. In fact, it is the "police procedural" that I have little interest in writing. My inner feeling always was to not dwell on the technical side of things like a lot of crime novels do these days, but on the drama and the emotions involved, but I was writing the "procedural " part also because I thought that's what was expected. Maybe I should try to write it a different way, without the feeling of obligation toward that Metal/Fire bit (police procedure, medical examiner, weapons etc). Drown it in emotions Murakami - style :D
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I can only recommend you search your own heart.

    Personally, if my doctor gave me that advice, I would consider it in relation to my entire doctor-patient relationship, but would not be inclined to accept it unless there was a clear health pattern that might be stress related. But I also may have a different spiritual background than you, which can also be a factor.
     
  12. gwilson
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    gwilson Member

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    I often (but not exclusively) see art as a means to purge myself of bad feelings. I'm not a doctor - not even close - but if you were to ask my advice I would have recommended that you should fight fire with fire.
     
  13. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    You're welcome, I'm glad it helped. :) Good luck!

    (BTW, the @Trish that it links to on Twitter? That's not me, people! LOL)
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    take it as a challenge, jazzy!

    write a good, entertaining mystery that has no violent content... prove that it can be done!

    i'll be happy to help you, if you need any advice/whatever along the way, since i'm totally with your doctor on the subject of using violence to entertain, albeit for more than a health reason...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  15. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well... writing about negative stuff can make a person feel more negative about life. I mean, it shouldn't, and if it does, yeah, sure, better write lighter stuff if writing mysteries and murder makes one feel worse.

    Of course, for many people writing is a way to process bad stuff and vent out their frustrations.

    I do have to add... I don't think it's the crime stories that affect your health and well-being. Might be some deeper issues that you should discuss with a psychologist, then with a psychiatrist and then with therapist (or however the system works over there. If you got dough, you probably get to go to the therapist -- a real therapist -- right away).

    Sure, it could be the stories, but if that's the case, it sounds like... an inability to separate fact from fiction? Your real life from the fantasy you are creating? In that case, I'd prescribe a trip to a therapist.

    That being said, once the creation of a certain character revealed some pretty crappy undealt stuff about myself. I felt really negatively about the character because she reminded me of my own crappy self. It was weird, but not particularly unhealthy (quite the contrary) or anything. Just kind of unpleasant for a while.

    I hope things get better with you, whatever you choose to do.
     
  16. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Cogito: Thank you for that, you are right. I'll have to search within for a while. There is a stress-related problem, together with a strong analytical personality, all of which is doing no favours to me in a situation where I have to completely relax and not work hard for an extended period of time. Change is hard.

    @gwilson: that was my motto too :D Apparently, it doesn't work that way in my case :(

    @Trish: don't worry, I never go on Twitter, I have no idea who Twitter @Trish is :D

    @ maia: thank you so much for your kindness, I really appreciate it :)
     
  17. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @KaTrian: that is certainly a valid point. In my life I've been through a lot, ups and downs and some quite extraordinary situations one gets caught in through no fault of their own. But in all that, I was even more meticulous about maintaining my mental health than my physical health. Unfortunately, a physical health problem got me, and it's gonna take several more years to recover fully. It was in relation to this that I was advised. You know how it is, in Chinese medicine they talk about elements, and I simply need to bring Water into my life, in order to balance my body ( according to that theory). Unfortunately, it's not so simple as wearing more blue or putting a water fountain on our desk. It's about actions and decisions that symbolise Water element that make the difference to one's life. To me, it makes perfect sense, but as I've been deeply entrenched in my so far life, likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, fears etc ( all the things that have influence on what we are writing), it is a 180 degree turn in finding myself and getting better. Sorry if this is vague and thanks for replying :)
     
  18. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Do what makes you happy. Life is too short to do what doesn't make you happy.
     
  19. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    I write what is classified as mystery fiction although no police or detectives are ever involved. I call it 'soft noir'. The stories have a certain level of violence, but it is usually brief and not always central to the theme of the story. I love writing these stories and would become incredibly depressed if someone told me that I would be better off writing romance. I understand your dilemma and it is clear that you are struggling with the advice you've been given. All I can say is to do what you love. And mystery/suspense fiction doesn't always have to center around a trail of bodies. It can be about relationships and the everyday person's trials and tribulations. You mentioned Murakami. He is a great writer and you could do worse than to emulate his style using your own story ideas.
     
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  20. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think I get what you mean, and I can relate--especially to stress (I had a burn-out at 23. Took care of myself physically but not mentally, and it's still a problem). Alternative medicine has also played its part in my life and still does, and I also have negative experiences of how Western medicine treats certain problems (e.g. with addictive pills). But indeed it's the actions and decisions, not a blue bracelet that can help. If you enjoy writing darker stuff, do it. I can't believe it could somehow, I don't know, subconsciously affect your health.
    All the best.
     
  21. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm, I don't believe in yin/yang so it's gonna impact on my response lol. Personally, I'd ask myself, "Ok, my doctor's telling me this is hurting me - well, is it?" The truth is, if the process of writing mysteries has actually been hurting you emotionally, spiritually or otherwise, trust me when I say, you'll have noticed. The doctor would only be confirming suspicions that you would've had for a very long time.

    But if you examine yourself and see that writing mysteries isn't affecting you at all - if anything, it's been uplifting.... then what're you worried about? If you eat a piece of sugar and taste that it's sweet, and I come along and say, "Spit that out, it's sour!" Who're you gonna believe? Yourself, or me?

    From what you've written, it sounds like writing the mystery has been a joy - so if your experience of writing mysteries do not correspond with your doctor's theory, I'd trust the experience. If anything, forcing yourself to give up the very thing that you love in favour of the romantic or water-based genres, which you clearly have no interest in - THAT is going to hurt you more in the end. It would've robbed you of something precious, robbed you of time when you could've been finishing your project and developing yourself, it would forcibly tear something important away from you and thus hurt you and perhaps crush you, if you maintained it long enough.

    In short, I think your doctor is speaking nonsense :D
     
  22. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well said, Mckk.

    Jazzabel, no matter how Chinese your doctor may be (I mean, in terms of his approach to healing), he cannot know more about what you're thinking and feeling than you do. If you think writing mysteries is harming you, don't write mysteries. But if you feel okay about it, and are only worried because of something your doctor said, I say ignore him.

    Good luck!
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    However, her doctor knows more about her medical history than any of us on a forum do, and that history may be entirely relevant. I'm sorry, but although I don't subscribe to Eastern medical practices, I am not willing to scoff at his recommendation automatically.

    For that matter, I don't automatically accept the fundamental assumptions of the AMA, either. I question recommendations, research them, and then I decide from all the available facts. And THAT has saved me at least one unnecessary major surgery. in the past.
     
  24. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    While I accept all this, I find it rather hard to believe that writing mysteries is harming her, and writing romances would benefit her.
     
  25. slamdunk
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    slamdunk Member

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    One doctor can be wrong or maybe overlooked/missed something, maybe you can go get a second opinion about this if you are in doubt?
     

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