No Tears In The Writer…

22 Feb

I’m sure most of you have heard of Robert Frost’s quote: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” I see the first sentence fly by on Twitter all the time and it would seem that the whole idea of being swept away by your own story as you write it, is quite popular. When I first started writing I actually agreed with this statement, but now I think it’s nothing more than a nice thought, like a unicorn that can poop Skittles.

A writer is (supposed to be) a professional. We come up with schemes and all sorts of plans to put our characters through hell. Everybody writes differently and there are those who plan out everything from the beginning. They might not be surprised as they write but does that mean that the reader won’t be? I wing it for the most part and I have moments that my characters surprise me, but that too doesn’t necessarily mean my readers will be. My point is that you can write a heartbreaking scene that will make most of your readers cry, but it doesn’t mean that you will cry. If you don’t cry it doesn’t mean you wrote it poorly, it just means you are focussed on your craft. You might cry when you reread it after a while, but that’s a different story. (Pun not intended.)

Since I’m a wing-it writer, I must admit that there are moments where I surprise myself and I love those moments. However, there are also moments where I don’t surprise myself and I love those moments too as long as they serve my story. How you feel when you write your story does not determine how your reader will experience it. Your story is different to you than it is to that one reader. And among readers the same story will differ as well. If you are good at what you do, the reading experiences of the same book will always differ and that is a very, very good thing. Why? Because art is personal. And art is good.

To end this with another quote (from Seth Godin this time): “Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”


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