No tears for the author; no tears for the reader (a snippet of Kat 2)

Someone told me (or I read somewhere) that if there are no tears or surprise for the author there are no tears or surprise for the reader.

At the time I was writing my first draft of Simple Gifts (will be published by Lazy Day in April of 2013), and a plot twist I hadn’t planned (or frankly, wanted) turned Carene and Leila’s story into something altogether different.  I was surprised.  My beta readers were surprised.  It was good.

As I have been slugging through (and hating) Kat 2 and struggling to reconcile the story I want to tell with the story that wants to be told, I took a moment today to do some private journaling.  What came out was unexpected and deeply, profoundly true.

I took that moment of deep, profound truth and connected it to Kat and Natalie’s relationship.  They are struggling.  I’ve written their struggle front, back, and sideways.  I’ve written their falling apart and their attempts to come back together again.  I had an elaborate structure of scenes that showed, I thought, the growth of their relationship.

What I forgot to include was my tears.

It’s not Six Sunday yet, but consider this a bonus.

The driver-side windshield wiper smears rather than clears the drizzling rain, and the warmth of the heat blower fogs the windows.  Shivering, I turn the defroster on high and drive around the neighborhood.  I’d meant to ask Natalie how to fix the wiper, but there never was a good time.  Her dad made her learn all of the car maintenance basics, like it or not, because he said a single woman stranded on the side of the road needed to know how to fend for herself.  He taught me a little bit, too, when I lived with them the summer in between college years, but most of my time was with Mama Jane.  If there were any place I wanted to be in the world, it was in her kitchen.

I found myself, unexpectedly, crying.  I am still feeling quiet as I sit with this revelation.  Kat on the outside, remembering a place where she felt safe and loved and welcome…and a place that she has not been able to visit for years.

I hate to say it about my own work because it sounds boastful, but I think there is something universal about Kat and Natalie.  Maybe the nonsexual disciplinary aspect of their relationship is not universal, but isn’t there a commonality of taking for granted someone who made you happy…and finding it difficult to accept unconditional love?

I realized why Kat and Natalie have been fighting me so much and why I’ve hated Kat 2 for the past month.  I wasn’t willing to cry for them.  I wasn’t willing to cry with them.  I wasn’t willing to be Kat and to be Natalie.  I wanted to write about them without becoming them.

I like writing their fun little stories for Fika or LOL Day or Spank or Treat.  I don’t like writing their pain.  Vennie was a laugh-a-minute fun-fest of silliness from start to finish.  Kat and Natalie…well…they’re my problem children.

Kat gripped me by the collar today, and she yanked me to sit down next to her.

Listen to me, she demanded.  If you’re going to write my story, you have to know me first.

The thing about someone quiet like Kat?  If she decides to stick to her guns, well…it’s a lost battle.  I listened.  I wrote.  I cried.

And then she let me tell her story.

Dear Katling?  I’m sorry for holding you at a distance.  I’ll listen better from now on.  You have a right to have your story told in a way that honors you, not in a way that is fun and easy.

(But your older sister Vennie never gave me this much trouble!)

26 thoughts on “No tears for the author; no tears for the reader (a snippet of Kat 2)

  1. Natasha Knight says:

    Hey Ana, I like this. I always cry – at everything – and I think you have a natural gift to make people laugh. I always envy easy humor in people – I mean humor that comes easily (did I say that right)? But I like what you wrote here especially about being quiet with the revelation.

    How do you make it snow on your page by the way? That is a cool feature.


    • Ana says:

      Snow usually forms when precipitation from clouds falls in conditions that are cold enough to make the water freeze.


      I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist. 🙂

      It’s a wordpress option. I’m not sure if you use wordpress software, but if so you can go to the dashboard and then click on settings. There is an option to enable snow.

      The odd thing is that I’ve never seen myself as a funny person. People tell me that my deadpan delivery makes it hard for them to know whether something is a joke and it’s okay to laugh, but I haven’t been able to change that. Writing humor is easier. Plus I think that it’s part of the easy comfortable-ness and camaraderie here. We may threaten each other with spankings, but it’s a safe space. That also lets the humor flow. I’ve been quite taken aback (in a positive way) at some of the quips people have come up with recently. After a while, it starts to feed off itself. 😀

      Of course, being a bit crazy does help!


  2. PK says:

    This I do understand completely. Our characters are real for us, I’m sure other writers feel this way about some of their characters, if not all. I too am amazed when a story shoots off in a direction that takes me completely by surprise. When I cry as I’m reading and writing I do feel that it’s good. I’ve never written much about Cassie’s pain – I’ve said she had a rough childhood and marriage, but I’ve never told about it. I look forward to learning more about Kat.



    • Ana says:

      I think it’s because for you, Cassie stories are about Cassie being happy now. The hard times are the background rather than the focus of her stories, whereas for Kat the story is about getting through the hard times. I want to fast-forward her and Natalie to the happy ending, but I have to tell their story first. They don’t have their happy ending yet, especially in Kat’s mind after what she got for Christmas!

      This was the first time in a while that I cried while writing. It felt horrible and wonderful all at the same time.

      Hugs back.


  3. Bas says:

    That’s why I hate to write. I get involved with the characters. I must write about the poor creatures having all kind of problems, where I actually only want to shout: “Now make up, and kiss already!”
    I feel guilty for making them suffer, while I have the power to make them instantly happy.


    • Ana says:

      But how little the instant happiness would mean…if it were awarded instantly. The stories where everything is perfect are the most boring stories of all creation.

      You do realize this is a risk for Bas and Unique for their enlarged roles in Vennie 2, right?


  4. Cara Bristol says:

    Good writing is an intimate menage a trois between author, character and reader. What the character feels, the author should feel and then the reader will feel it. I’ve found that when I cry, I laugh, I get turned on by what I write, my readers do too. It’s all part of the process.


    • Ana says:

      Trust you to use the term menage a trois. 🙂 I said that term to a friend once, and she laughed so hard at *me* saying that she made me repeat it three times.

      Sometimes I hate the “writing hangover” when I feel lost, disoriented, sad, angry, or whatever I’ve written my characters to experience. But I’m learning that if I don’t go through that, the writing suffers.

      On the other hand is our naughty friend Renee who could get turned on by a caterpillar walking across a desk.

      P.S. Did you rig the poll last night?


  5. reneeroseauthor says:

    I get this. Don’t know if I cry, but I recently rewrote a medieval story that I’d written the first time more as a caricature than real depth. When I found the character’s real pain, it came alive for me…


    • Ana says:

      Minelle and I were talking yesterday about the layers in your writing. Digging deeper has its payoffs for both the writer and the reader, but it’s not so fun at the time.


  6. pao says:

    I’ve always thought that writing was a very intimate, intense and revealing thing. It must be frightening to allow yourself to dive into the dark with your characters. But I wonder, if everyone feels more alive in these intense journeys.

    I thought parents usually find first borns more difficult. And when the second child comes, parents are more lax 😀


  7. Joelle Casteel says:

    I look at this one two levels- when we’re writing fiction meant to arouse (saying such as I know you’re not the only person who writes non-sexual spanking), if it doesn’t turn us on, why should we expect it would work for anyone else.
    But on crying… there’s certainly been moments with my characters in Vala’s Story that I’ve cried with them. Although it was out of story that I most cried seriously- wandering somewhere between friend, beta reader, and co-creator… this woman was with me after the first book was being moved from birthday gift into first draft of a novel series. Vala’s Story follows Vala’s training- 16 weeks of it. This woman pulled a very childish thing when I was working on “week 13.” Among other things, she argued with me how Vala, a rape survivor, would deal with rape as part of BDSM; I told her, as I am a rape survivor and she is not, I am the experience to speak on it. But when I finished the series in rough draft, going just a little past “week 16” for a suitable denouement, she didn’t come back to read. She didn’t care enough about Vala to see how I ended the story for her. That made me cry.


    • Ana says:

      People have many different reasons for reading or not reading stories, and we almost never know why. There are also as many different ways of responding to situations and events, not just rape but many kinds of trauma, as there are people who experience them. It’s impossible for one person to know how someone else might respond to a situation because it’s different for everyone.

      Part of the ethos I’ve tried to build here at Governing Ana is that of listening to others even when we may not agree. Certain things like rape bring up extreme emotions and responses, and I’d like to invite you to consider that there may be other perspectives involved in these kinds of stories.

      As to the crying, it certainly is true that if we don’t feel the emotion we can’t convey it for our characters and then we can’t convey it to our readers. The tricky part of writing as craft is to walk the line between pure emoting vs. pure technique.


  8. SassyTwatter says:

    I know a little late to the party still going through all my emails and read this post. It was so touching I just wanted to give you a *hug*. Tears are good they wash away things and help bring to light important emotions.


    • Ana says:

      Aw, thank you. 😀 I’m rushing to finish Vennie 2 now, so I’ve put Kat 2 away for a bit. I’ll be taking Kat 2 out again soon, though, and my guess is that there will be more tears. Darn Kat! 😀


Thank you so much for joining the discussion! Please play nicely or you may be asked to stand in the corner. ;)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s