Emotion As Fuel

Emotion As Fuel

Emotion is a basic component of creativity.

As an angsty teen (weren’t we all?) I used poetry as a way to work through and express the confusion, sorrow, and joy that flowed through my adolescent years. 

In my twenties, I used writing to find my way out of the forest of grief that the loss of my first husband landed me in. 

These days, all the ebb and flow of life finds its way into my writing. Poetry is still my go-to for personal emotion, but I’ve turned to novels and short stories for the majority of my art and self-expression.  

Whether the emotion is sorrow or anger, love or sheer joy, it comes out in my writing. Often it is a process, where the emotion is transformed into a character’s reaction to a situation that is nothing like the one I experienced in real life. Whatever the situation, the feelings it engenders tend to be universal.

Everyone experiences loss, betrayal, ambition, in some form. Everyone needs love, security, happiness, in some measure. Tapping into these experiences and desires creates a universal language everyone can relate to and understand. 

The need to communicate those needs is just as universal. For me, writing is the form that communication takes, and emotion is the fuel.

How do you express yourself?

Writing What I Know: Guest Post by Leslee Hare

Writing what I know. That tired writer’s adage has taken on fresh meaning for me over the past couple months. I’ve been working on a memoir for a few years, and last fall I published two children’s books. These contain things I “know”, for sure.

But lately, my imagination and fingers itch to try something new. Up popped short stories.

I’ve had enough drama in my life to keep friends amused (or irritated) for hours with tales, so finding familiar material isn’t an issue.

Here’s the kicker: I’ve only recently learned that my “normal” is “paranormal” to most people.

You see, I’ve got a very active inner world. Stories arise out of it and float on a whole other plane of something. I learned in 2018 that this is unusual. In fact, it played a large part in my receiving an Autism Level One diagnosis from my therapist.

I had no idea that most folks don’t experience the sensations that play a central role in my life. I just thought I felt them more than most people. On one level I still wonder if my therapist was playing a cruel joke on me. This is the only reality I know. But a dear friend, who’s also a therapist, corroborated it.

So, I’ll take their words for it, like a blind person trying to understand another person’s description of the color blue.

In light of that, “writing what I know” comes into play in the new ways I’ve been craving. Plenty of folks enjoy paranormal fiction. It occurs to me: instead of keeping my stuff bottled up inside because people might think it’s too weird, I can just write it into paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy stories. Relief.

Why am I just now figuring this out? Because I’ve been self-conscious about being thought “weird” since I was a little kid, like Allie.

Allie’s Roses, a new short story I just published on my website, illustrates this. It’s based on several autobiographical elements, and weaving these into the story brings healing and reconciliation that I’ve longed for. It celebrates the intense bombardment we feel on the spectrum: anxiety, racing thoughts, and a blurring of dimensions that calls to question what makes things “real” for us.

Writing this way eases the pressure of the emotions and over-stimulation that come with sensory issues. I highly recommend it to anyone with similar tendencies.

So now I’m working on stories that enlist characters, places, and concepts I’ve known for what feels like ages. And you, the reader, get to speculate about what parts I consider real and true versus totally made-up. And we’ll call it fiction, just for laughs.

Author Bio:

When she was a child in Alabama, Leslee Hare would lie in the grass and wonder how an entire universe could fit into those radiant blades hit by the sun.  And what happened to all the life that was once in the parts now hinting at a brown edge?
From those early years, her vivid dreams took her to worlds and people she’d never seen before, even in books and movies.
Where did they come from? Were they real?
Curiosity spurred Leslee to ask an annoying number of questions about why this world seems the way it does. And why different people see it differently.
Writing and creating images have been her most passionate creative outlets since childhood.
Leslee draws upon her experiences as a Buddhist, a teacher of kids’ Dharma classes, an Architect, a Writer, an Illustrator, and a participant on the Autism Spectrum to share her insights and view of the world.
You can see more of her work on her website.
These days, Leslee lives in Pine Lake, Georgia, with Lucas the Game Designer, Sylvie the Cat, and as many flowers as will fit.

Image credits: Image by Leslee Hare, using files from Wikimedia Commons:

By Erixsen – Own work by uploader: ok, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7051077 andhttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5e/Writing_hand.jpg

Using Science Fiction Conventions to Inspire Ideas

By Leslie C. Halpern

As if attending a Star Wars Celebration, Worldcon, Dragoncon, Necronomicon, Comic-Con, MegaCon, or other similar event weren’t inspiring enough, these conventions can inspire out-of-this-world ideas for your writing. The trick is combining your powers of observation with your powers of imagination.


It’s taking a step back and becoming an observer instead of a participant and using your senses to take in the entire spectacle for a different take on what’s happening around you. It’s making connections between dissimilar things that momentarily create meaning. Writing sci-fi convention previews (such as scheduled special guests and presentations) and reviews (including panels, lectures, and exhibits) are standard ways of writing about these events. Try taking it one step further into “What if” territory by elevating the experience to inspire new fiction and nonfiction writing ideas.


A World of Inspiration  

Take Worldcon, for example. I was lucky enough to attend the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention (MagiCon) in Orlando, Florida in 1992. I was on assignment for an entertainment publication to cover a meet-and-greet with director Francis Ford Coppola about his newly released movie, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In addition to the assigned film article, the dynamic atmosphere inspired years of writing ideas, including an article about screenwriting for a writer’s magazine.

The quotations and observations also came in handy when I recently wrote the book Scantily Clad Truths (where I wrote a humorous personal essay describing my weekend at MagiCon), and in my previous books Dreams on Film (where I discussed Dracula’s ability to make victims sleepwalk in a trance) and Passionate About Their Work: 151 Celebrities, Artists, and Experts on Creativity (in which I used Coppola’s direct quotations).


Photo copyright 2009 Leslie C. Halpern. MegaCon costume contest.

Sources for Ideas

  • People Watching: Regional fan-based science fiction conventions may attract 5,000 or more people while major international events such as Stars Wars Celebrations often bring in 70,000 fans. Either way, that’s a lot of potential people-watching. Each person has a story – whether you ask for the real one or imagine your own version of it.
  • Costume Contest: Sometimes there’s an official contest, and sometimes people just dress up for fun. Does the personality of the character seem to match the person? Does the outfit go with the body type? How much craft went into making the costume? How much creativity went into the concept and design?
  • Exhibit Hall: When the event is in full swing (typically on a Saturday), shoppers, sellers, and celebrities (selling their photos, books, and autographs) are most abundant in the exhibit hall. Exhibitors become increasingly desperate to sell their wares as the final day draws near so they can avoid shipping costs and transportation hassles of unsold merchandise. This is the perfect setting to observe, listen, take photographs, jot down notes, ask questions, and talk to as many people as possible.


Science fiction conventions provide terrific sensory stimulation – amid a temporary mass mingling of diverse segments of the population – for generating book, short story, article, essay, and poem ideas. See what inspires your writing at the next convention you attend.


Leslie C. Halpern is an award-winning poet and author of several books, including Scantily Clad Truths (2018), 200 Love Lessons from the Movies (2016), Passionate About Their Work (2010), and Dreams on Film (2003). She has written more than 4,000 articles, reviews, essays and poems for a variety of publishers such as The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety. Leslie also teaches a film course in the Senior Tars Enrichment Program at Rollins College.


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