Do Tears Mean It’s Good?

Posted on August 23, 2012. Filed under: storytelling, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I will be the first to admit, I cry pretty easily – especially at the movies, or reading a book, or hearing a really touching story. And you know what? I like it. Yep. I like when stories make me cry.

So, what about when my own writing makes me cry? Does that mean it’s good or that I am too attached?  I am trying to work this out, because quite a few of my own stories make me cry.  I know, I am weird, but I write the kind of stuff I would like to read, so there you go.

I write fiction as well as true, personal stories. I am currently working on a story about my mom and my dog, for this Saturday’s storytelling performance, when they were both sick, and I keep crying when I get to the end!  Now, obviously, I have a personal connection to the story. It’s true and I lived through it and there are some very emotional events that took place. Hence, the crying. But just because it moves me, does it mean that it will move other people?

I have (I say with puffed out chest) made people cry with my stories before. It’s very gratifying. 🙂 But there is a fine line between indulging your own emotional catharsis and creating art and, especially with true stories, that is a hard line to walk. Just because this story is making me cry, doesn’t mean it will work it’s magic onion powers on others. Hopefully, Saturday will be another successful telling and no one will throw tomatoes. (Although I have never had anyone throw a tomato at me, so don’t know how bad that would actually be.)

Then there’s my fiction writing that makes me cry. I wrote this fantastic (I do say so myself) short story about a young married couple who had to deal with cancer.  Every time I revised the ending, I found myself balling. I mean, it was good stuff! But I was told publishers don’t like cancer stories. Too depressing. And so far, no publisher has proved me wrong and bought it, so is it better to stick with lighter content?

But books like “Cold Mountain,” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” and “The Poisonwood Bible,” all favorites of mine, totally make you cry. There is no way you could get to the end of “Cold Mountain” without balling. And I am pretty sure all three of those books sold more than a dozen copies. So it’s not just me out there liking to cry.

I guess there needs to be more to it than just tears. I still think my cancer story was good, but maybe not as catchy as a time traveling husband. The emotional content is still important, but maybe context is as well.

Writing is a journey and we’ll see how this all develops. At least by Saturday night I will know if my most recent creation is art or just a failed public therapy session.


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[…] I did my sappy story this past Saturday – see my “tears” post – and I did have two people tell me that I made them cry – so yay – but it turned […]

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