This article comes in the wake of a conversation with a friend of mine. I should have her guest posting on here as she has a good deal of thought provoking commentary to share as well as personal insight to some of the issues being raised right now in this country politically. I just have to figure out how to turn this thing on for guest posting.
“Emotions Part 2” comes not a redaction or corrective footnote, but rather as a second half to what came first. An epilogue to the prologue, if you will.
As you’ll recall from the original post, Emotions, I spoke about not being as emotionally expressive as most, and more specifically, about not crying at most things, and really only crying for certain movies. And, if you haven’t read the original article, go back and do so. This Pt. 2 will make more sense if you’ve read the first part.
Alas, I digress. The friend I was speaking with is a very talented writer, she’s actually quite well known in some circles, and I highly recommend that you read her works. (They can be found on MediaMiner and Archive of Our Own under the author name “Sueric”.) She had read my post, and remarked that I stated I only cried at movies, and asked if that meant I didn’t cry for books. As a writer and an avid reader, she feels that the written word holds more power, and I do agree with that. I agree with that completely.
Then why did I say I only cried at movies?
Because the difference between an emotional response to movies versus books/written works for me is staggering. With a movie, I might shed a few tears, and then once that scene is over, or the movie has ended, that’s it. The emotion is gone, it’s done, and I’m back to my normal coldhearted self. Books, however, are a different beast entirely.
When I read a book, or series of written works, that provokes an emotional response from me – in this case we’re talking about crying, here – it’s never as simple as a few tears. There’s the buildup of emotion, the way my breath catches in my throat, my heart constricts in my chest, my thoughts still. I feel a tingle run up my spine, I get goosebumps, and the world around me just falls away. I take that emotional ride with the character, falling into their hearts as if I am the character. The tears evoked for me are heavy, they hurt my heart as much as they sting my eyes, they fall down my cheeks, and fall onto the page, or the computer. And where you may only see a few physical tears from me, it is the equivalent of seeing anyone else sitting in the corner bawling as they hold onto the book, or stare at the screen through tear-blurred eyes.
That emotion, those scenes, that feeling I get from the character and the words evoked, stay with me for hours – sometimes, even days. I feel as though I’m seeing the world around me through the eyes of the character I’ve been reading – whether that’s Kagome Higurashi, Gin Zelig, Kurt Drevin, Samantha Izayoi, Saori Senkuro, Hazel Grace Lancaster, Billy Colman, or a whole host of others.
So, after saying all of this, would I say that I cry when I read an emotionally heavy scene in a book? No, because for me crying simply means that I’ve gotten misty eyed and it’s ended as soon as it began. So, no, I don’t cry when I read a story. I become the story, and to me, that’s an incredibly powerful thing – more powerful than “crying” can define. And if you have the power to evoke that kind of a response in your readers – especially me, then my dear, you have a gift unlike any other.
As a footnote: Billy Colman is the protagonist from Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s an old book – 1960’s era publication with a story time set in the 1940s. It’s a good book, and if you haven’t read it, I suggest that you do.