You know a story is good when it has the ability to emotionally gut you. I’m not talking about “the feels”—that floaty, swoony, sometimes teary feeling when you’re reading or watching something that speaks to you on an emotional level. I’m talking about actually feeling eviscerated, like someone took a big spiky spoon, punched it through your gut, and scooped out all your insides. All that’s left is a gaping, raw hole.
I’ve only experienced that feeling a few times, but it’s incredible. When it happens, the storyteller nerd in me is on a lower floor scribbling down notes while the rest of me is slack-jawed and streamy-eyed.
“Did that really just happen?” I ask myself again and again, while my inner writer is gleefully dissecting it and preparing the lab for duplication.
It’s a strange feeling indeed.
I’m an empathic person; I feel things very strongly. Sometimes this earns me titles like “passionate” or “feisty.” Mostly though it just gets me misty-eyed during the happiest of Disney movies. I like loud music and have tattoos, but I’m far from being a bad-ass. I just write ’em.
I often wonder how normal people cope with these emotions in the presence of an extremely moving, gripping story. Everyone else seems so cavalier while I’m yelling at the TV or throwing the book across the room. More and more, though, I’m seeing the benefits of feeling too deeply.
With enough practice, I can turn the tables and make other people feel the same with my own stories.
I’m not quite there yet, but that’s what I want most from my career. I want to scrape people raw the way Stephen King or Kurt Sutter do. I want to create flawed yet endearing characters that people love, as if they were family. I want to weave complex and compelling stories.
They may drain me while I’m writing them, but the ultimate staunch will be hearing readers say “Damn, that killed me.”
I’m not arrogant enough to ever think that I could be Joss Whedon. I have to be myself, after all. But I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want out of this career, and it’s to tell poignant stories that rip your spine out through your stomach—emotionally speaking, of course. 😊