Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Angst

I'm not big on angst. In fact, more than just a little bit of it annoys me. Until recently, I haven't read very many Young Adult books for this reason -- all of that teen angst drives me batties. I read the Twilight series, and enjoyed the story lines, but had to grit my teeth at all of the teen drama.

My oldest daughter is a tween and I am now reading the same books she's reading so we can talk about them. I often point out how much more productive it would be for the main character to stop sitting around and feeling sorry for herself and just get up and do something to make herself feel better. I get a lot of eye rolls out of that, but she knows I'm right.

The official definition of angst is:

  1. A feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general
  2. A feeling of persistent worry about something trivial

But I kind of like two of the Urban Dictionary definitions:
  1. Angst is about downtrodden teenagers thinking they're the only bloody people in the world who have it tough, and thinks that gives them an excuse to wallow in their own self-pity instead of actually doing something about their situation
  2. Describes a situation or literary piece which contains dark, depressing, angry, and/or brooding emotions from the participating characters.

I'm talking about angst here because so many romance books seem to dive into it, and I obviously have issues with that. Sure, if there is something keeping the parties apart then there is bound to be some pain, hurt, possibly even depression around it. And most romance books, by definition, have something either keeping the couple apart or threatening to split them apart once they begin to come together. But I'm a bit of a realist -- even when I do sink into depression over something in real life, I usually give myself a time limit. For instance, I'll give myself the weekend to sit around and eat mint chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate syrup on it while reading or watching movies or whatever, but once the weekend is over then the pity party stops. I pick myself up and move on. For something very serious - like the death of someone I'm close to, I give myself longer... but I form a plan of how to deal with it, and get help if I see that I'm not dealing well and not likely to meet my deadline.

So it's probably no surprise that I don't write a whole lot of angst into my books. When my couple is split up I tend to have them dive into their work, or do something else to get their mind off of their pain. Yes, they hurt, and they think about the hurt here and there, but it's not an all consuming thing.

Some people like to read angst though, I've even seen reviewers praise a book for having a ton of angst and inner pain. This isn't a right or wrong thing, it's a personal preference, I think

What do you prefer? A hero or heroine who is practically crippled by their pain, or one who finds a way to handle the pain, who goes on with their lives in spite of how badly they are hurting? Or maybe you prefer something in between?



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