One way I cope with stress/distress/anger/frustration/sadness is to write. Feeling crushed by every single one of these emotions the last few days, I found myself going full tilt into a short piece that is part of the longer collection, a piece I've not been fully satisfied with from the get-go. While I'm happy with one very basic idea offered in the story, I'm not at all happy with most of the other aspects of it. So I made some changes.
The first major change was to make the main character a woman rather than a man. While several of the stories within the collection are told from a man's point of view, I just wasn't feeling confident that this particular story's male pov was working. Once I had finished going through the entire story to change every he to she, every his to her, and every male character's name to the new female character's name, the fingers started flying on the keyboard. I kept a few minor details along the way, but for the most part, the story reshaped itself without me having to think too much.
The second major change was to add in another character, a son. Where the previous male main character didn't have any children, the new female main character does, just this one. Once I made this addition to the story, the details about this guy seemed to shoot from my fingers as if he actually is a real somebody. Who knows, maybe there is a young man out there who does resemble this guy. All I know at this point about him, though, is he made a decision that has caused great sadness for his mother.
I've reached the point in the story where I'm not quite sure where it's going to go. I have some ideas, but I want to mull each over before making a decision. I'll most likely write each possibility out to get a feel for how each could take shape, but for now, I'm feeling much more confident in the story. It has a much truer ring rising to the surface, I think.
After spending the last two days working on this story along with responding to student work, I feel much less stress/distress/anger/frustration/sadness. In a way, I guess I've transferred what I was feeling to the characters in the story, which is what makes writing probably the best medicine a person can take for some ills.