Twenty years ago I saw a Mexican movie (with subtitles) entitled Like Water for Chocolate. It is a story of unrequieted love, maternal malice, and the courage necessary to quietly endure. One of the things that made an impression on me was the folklore principle that the emotions of the cook are mystically transferred into the food she is cooking.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pg_Mr4lIoY Like Water for Chocolate video clip
Perhaps there is some truth to the idea that the cook’s emotions become part of the recipe. And perhaps it works the same with writing.
Beta readers for Gathering Storm are reporting that this installment has left them with emotion hanging on for some time after the last word is read and the book is closed . Nothing could be more pleasing to an author because, when all is distilled down to the core, writers should be aiming at one of two targets, the evocation of thought or emotion. While I confess to going for both, I see my principal task as drawing forth emotion. Isn’t the prospect of feeling our motivation for reading? That reminder of aliveness?
If you received an early readers’ copy of Gathering Storm and you are one of those who has mentioned tissues, be assured that the writer is in that with you. During the writing of this book, there were several times my spouse came in to find me red faced and wrecked because of a scene I was writing or had just written. These incidents weren’t always about sorrow. Some of them were simply an emotion so big and full my body couldn’t contain it and had to find release in some way. There were a couple of times during the writing of A Summoner’s Tale when I cried to the point of having to stop because I couldn’t see the monitor screen.
Five books into my latest job – writing fiction – I recognize this as part of my process. If something makes me laugh, it’s probably going to get that response from some of my readers. If I shed tears, chances are that emotion is going to transfer to the story, rise from the page and have a similar effect on my sensitive readers. (And I use the term “sensitive” in a totally good way.) All this is to say that I share more than words on a page with you; when reporting on events in Loti Dimension, I am a third party observer but not a dispassionate one.