When my kids were little, we lived around the corner from the library in South Hadley Falls, Massachusetts. Every day when their father went to work on the afternoon shift at the Air Force base, the kids and I would walk to the library and gather several picture books that we brought home. They cuddled up close on either side of me on the front porch steps while I read to them. One day I read them The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff.
When the mother elephant got shot, both of my little children cried and cried. I thought, oh no, I should never have read that book to them. After dinner they asked me to please read them the Babar book again.
“Any part in particular?”
“The part where the mother dies.”
I could have wondered if they had sadistic feelings toward mothers. Me? Naa. Not their sweet Mommy! Instead it made me realize that as humans we LIKE to feel our emotions.
So here’s the thing I want to do:
I want to pop the stopper, so your tears can flow. I want to write stories that move you—not sappy, melodramatic, or sentimental stories. Instead, stories that surprise you, catch you off guard and bring you that wonderful wet release.
Stories that make you smile with satisfaction with your face embarrassingly wet.
What does that?
A kindness where it’s not expected?
Fear of harm coming to a character, that we’ve grown attached to? Relief when said character is finally safe?
When I was editing Intentional, a novel, every time I read over the part where Grace dyes her hair black, and she tells her grandmother she’s in mourning, I cried. For Pete’s sakes, I wrote the damn thing. But every time I reread that part, it got to me.
So I’d like to write something that will make you cry, something that touches you so deeply that you get tears. But I really don’t want to kill off any mother elephants.
When my grandmother died, I couldn’t cry. I wanted to, but tears just wouldn’t come. This was in 2001, and friends had told me that Titanic was a three tissue movie. Well, wouldn’t you know, the timing was perfect, Titanic came on TV. I watched, but not a dribble fell from my eyes.
My most recent cry, I’m embarrassed to say, was over a TV show. I like watching Netflix at lunchtime. In an episode of NCIS, Jimmy is trying to stop a young man from jumping off a roof. He’s risking his life. The episode includes a lot of flashbacks of Jimmy over the past seasons. I was so afraid that this was the way the scriptwriters would eliminate this character from the show. But he lived! And I cried.
We all know that personal tragedy brings tears (usually). But what about the tears over the media in our lives?
What touches you? What makes you cry?
So, Dear Friends, here’s your homework:
Please share in the comments section below, what has touched you enough for tears lately? Literature? A TV crime show? A movie? Art? Music? A Tweet? (hmm, let’s forget that last one—we could get way off topic.)
P.S. Right now, at this very minute, my granddaughter, Julia Ruble, is on her way to Thailand to be a volunteer in an elephant rescue sanctuary. Yay, Julia!