How to Bond With Your Readers: The Pain and Glory of Writing

    bond with readers

    Note from the Editor-in-Chief

    We’ve decided republish this beautiful post by our treasured contributor John Yeoman as he unfortunately passed away unexpectedly this year.

    Have you ever shied away from writing a scene in your story because it was too painful?

    Because it triggered memories you’d rather forget?

    You were thrust back into trauma: a marital breakup, bereavement, personal humiliation or some other horrific event.

    Yet, if you dumb down that scene you’ll wreck the storyEven if your experience is totally fictitious, it still hurts.

    All great writing is a learning experience for the author.

    We force ourselves into new places, dramas we may never have encountered, the minds of strange people whom we might never want to meet but must—somehow—portray.

    It hurts.

    And so it should.

    Unless we force ourselves to feel our characters’ pain, the reader won’t feel it either. They’ll toss our story aside.

    “It’s not real,” they’ll say. And they’ll be right.

    I discovered this for myself when I depicted a funeral in an historical mystery novel set in the 16th century.

    Imagine the scene. A church cemetery at midnight. No moon. Just three mourners holding lanterns. The narrator is burying his beloved wife in secret. She’d committed suicide so could not legally be interred in sacred ground.

    Will her soul be saved? He doesn’t know. He prays beside the coffin—and is answered by a mocking owl.

    I cried as I wrote that scene. Why? Too many funerals in my recent past perhaps, although their circumstances had been quite different. But had I skipped that episode and dismissed it in a single line—”And so the lass was buried. God rest her soul.”—it would have been a cop out.

    I had to depict every graphic moment, even its fragments of noir humour when—in the darkness—the narrator falls into the grave, apologizes to the coffin then bursts into tears. Otherwise, his subsequent nightmares—vital to the story—would not have made sense.

     Face the pain and work through it.

    Not only will your story gain strength but you’ll also grow as a person.

    Aristotle put his finger on it 2400 years ago. When we live through an experience of fictional tragedy—on the stage or in our minds—we are ‘purged by pity and terror.’

    Catharsis. It’s a cleansing experience. An inner confessional by which we are reconciled to ourselves and human nature.

    Any author who is not a total hack does not write to change their reader—the attempt would be impertinent—but to change themselves.

    Every story we write with feeling is a personal catharsis, a release of tension.

    Do it competently and your reader will be changed as well.

    Dare we bare our souls? And let it all hang out? And enrich our stories with revelations that will expose our most private feelings to the world?

    Yes! Here are three ways to do it without (too much) pain:

    1. Accept that people have felt almost all emotions. 

    There’s very little you can tell people that they haven’t felt themselves.

    The days of readers being ‘shocked’ by revelations in literature ended with the 19th century.

    Even then, their shock was mostly sham. Privately, Victorian readers lapped up the indiscretions of Madame Bovary, Moll Flanders and Tom Jones.

    Write those scenes of pain, scandal or revelation well, and your readers will relate to them. Because chances are they’ve experienced something like it themselves.

    Or they know someone who has.

    Those scenes are true.

    2. Don’t think that scenes of intimate confession will reflect badly upon you.

    Readers fall in love with authors who, through their characters and events, disclose their own fallibilities.

    UK novelist Sharon Bolton has publicly admitted that she writes her gruesome crime scenes to exorcize the demons in her own soul.

    Do we think the worst of her? No. Readers rush to clasp her hand at literary events and her novels are bestsellers.

    US crime queen Patricia Cornwell portrays herself in her bitter, tormented heroine Kay Scarpetta.

    Few readers would like to meet Scarpetta in the flesh but Cornwell has so many adoring fans, she has to hire bodyguards when she appears in public.

    3. Use the painful scenes as opportunities for personal growth.

    Creative writing has often been prescribed as therapy for people who are stressed.

    Why?

    By writing out difficult experiences, we gain control. We structure them. We impose order on random pain.

    So we own it.

    The secret here is not to wallow in reminiscence—at least, not beyond the first draft.

    Go back. Edit it ruthlessly. Crisp up those long tortured descriptions.

    Anguish piled upon anguish will bore the reader. Read it again in a few weeks’ time and it will bore you too.

    Pack all that trauma into just one eloquent line. Then pain becomes metaphor. (We can handle metaphor.)

    And move on.

    That’s what our own lives should do, after periods of stress. Creative writing helps us do it.

    But ruthless editing is the key. Be your own best friend. Spill it all out. Rein it all in. Then move on.

    How to go beyond the pain and glory of writing to bond with your readers

    Bare your soul.

    Expose your most private feelings to the world.

    You’ll not only create a story that will live because it’s ‘true,’ you’ll write one that will help you to live.

    To get over past traumas.

    And move on.

    Have you ever read—or written—a story that helped you get over a painful event? Please leave a comment below! Every comment gets a fast, thoughtful response.

    About the author: 

    Dr John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing, taught creative writing at a UK university. He was a successful commercial author for 42 years and was a regular, much-loved contributor to WTD. He died unexpectedly in 2016.

    Write to Done is about to rock the online writing world with a brand new look! We’re on our way to becoming the go-to content hub for writers, and we want you to be a part of the evolution. Click here to become part of The Dream Team to get a sneak peek of our beta site and help us shape the future of Write to Done!
    About the author

      John Yeoman

      Dr John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing, was a tutor in creative writing at a UK university. He was a successful commercial author for 42 years and was a regular, much-loved contributor to WTD. He died unexpectedly in 2016.

    • Bert says:

      Was any action taken by adults/ mature personages present during this cheering to explain to these jubilant thugs that their obvious hatred and inability to react in a proper way to such a horrible atrocity such as the Twin Towers atrocity coitunttses a certain lack of morals and emotional well being on their part?

    • Mallo says:

      This post hitme right in the center. I’m 40,000 words into my first novel/based on truth and I can’t tell whether I’m not being authentic or trying to paint the picture so those still living will not be hurt by the deep and personal events. NFL Snapback Hats

    • So glad I stumbled on this post. Forever I’ve been working around difficult scenes because I didn’t want to face parts of myself or my past. Recently, I decided to dive in and write from the heart, and boy has it been a difficult learning experience. To write memorable characters, you must first know yourself. I’m glad to discover this is a normal process. Thank you John and Write to Done for republishing this post.

    • Chaitanya says:

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    • Mahnoor says:

      writing is a pure skill. Either it is writing story about the joy, happiness and love or it is about sorrow or pain. But I feel hesitation writing about the crime and violence as I think it changes people way of thinking and can effect their personality.

    • This post hitme right in the center. I’m 40,000 words into my first novel/based on truth and I can’t tell whether I’m not being authentic or trying to paint the picture so those still living will not be hurt by the deep and personal events. It’s not about distancing the emotions, I’m addressing those (I think), but about changing some of the characters and the situation “just enough.”
      Thank you for this honest and thought-provoking post.

    • Your line “there’s very little that you can tell people that they haven’t felt themselves” is right on the money. I could use more emotional and vulnerable language in my writing. Clearly you know how to bond with your readers—excellent post!

    • Sai says:

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    • Micheal A says:

      Exposing one of my private intimate feeling to my customers is one of the marketing strategies I do use to sell my products. Honestly, it works, because the product has much to do with feelings and emotion. Thanks.

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    • Annette says:

      Sometimes I feel that delving too deeply into a character’s pain or other emotion would be overwhelming to the reader, but it helps to be reminded that the characters we love – the ones that are most memorable – are the ones who were portrayed as being emotionally transparent in any given book.

      Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement to connect with readers.

      • Readers are rarely overwhelmed by true emotion, Annette, provided it’s not laid on with a shovel. But they’re seriously underwhelmed by fake emotion!

    • Ohita Afeisume says:

      Life is made up of the bitter and the sweet. After rain comes sunshine. As the way of nature is so is life. every realistic person acknowledges this. so I don’t expect readers to be surprised or shocked by what I discuss in my novels.OHITA

      • Balance the sweet with the bitter, Ohita. That’s life. And what else is fiction writing but life?

    • Linda Strader says:

      My memoir is filled with my now ex-husband. I thought I could get away with not going in too deep, mainly because after being friends for 10 years after our divorce, he now refuses to speak to me. It just hurt way too much to remember and make the reader believe I fell in love with him. Well, one of my beta readers gave me honest feedback…that my ex read like a cardboard character. Of course he was right. So I sat down and wrote the intimate details of our relationship, which of course doesn’t end well. I worried myself sick that people would judge me, but now I realize they won’t, and your post reaffirms my thinking. Thank you!

      • No, your readers will not judge you, Linda. More like, they’ll love you. Because you are them. And they’ll admire your candor.

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    • Elisa says:

      OMG! You hit me right! It’s true I am apprehensive in writing the way I want it to be because I am trying to keep my past. Thinking, what will my second husband’s parents think if they know about it. I think you can read my sadness and embitterment in my posts, though. Writing ease the pain and help me move on to the next chapter of my life.

      • ‘Wondering what people will think about me.’ Ay, that’s a great barrier, Elisa, especially if those people are close to us. A well known romance author wrote genteel stories for many years, where everything – in 1950s fashion – stopped at the bedroom door. Then her mother passed away and her next stories were raunchy beyond words. But were they better stories? Hm… You could still heavily fictionalize those true stories from your past and mix them with events that are indisputably fictive. Then nobody will know 😉

    • Juliar Nur says:

      Honestly, i no good at writing sorrow, especially mine. I feel stuck and my hand cannot type any word about my sorrow. But i’m good at writing my glory and happy day. Maybe it’s because i believe there is no need to tell your sorrow with other people, better to keep it yourself, and tell the glory and happy day to motivate them.

      • If your story needs sorrow, Juliar, brace yourself and write it! Readers relate to true emotion. And life is not always bliss. You’ll uplift their spirits more effectively if you present your high moments in contrast with some low ones.

    • Great post John,
      I can really relate to this. We’re often somehow afraid of sharing a part of our stories to our readers because of how it will make them feel or how they will feel about us.

      But the truth is that if we really want to bond with them, we have to share those stories knowing fully well that most of them has also experienced or heard something similar in the past.

      This is really a very thought provoking post John.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • Perhaps one way to approach this, Theodore, is to recognize that there’s little you can reveal to people that they haven’t themselves done or felt or fantasized. (Well, short of hideous crimes.) Put those events into a fictional setting with a sympathetic narrator or protagonist and the reader will still bond with your character. Indeed, even more so because that person is ‘just like them’ – in their secret selves.

    • It’s really true John. Writing about what has stressed up an individual gives relief and forgiveness for oneself or other people. Once I caught my wife red-handed with another man. I got totally disturbed and wanted to kill myself, but when I picked up my pen and write how badly wounded I felt, it saved my life and that of my ex-wife! Eventually, I forgave her though I did not resume marital life with her. I have liked the post. Gud luck!

      • Ay, Benson, I sometimes think that my own novels are little more than a dramatized diary! The trick is to fictionalize the episodes so greatly that they become another thing entirely. Then we can move on…

    • Barry Montefiore says:

      Dear John

      Thank you for your inspirational ‘confessionals’ and valuable communions. I am a newbie novel writer (although I spent years writing poetry) and become spiritually engrossed in the magic of creating. In a sense, I am recreating myself by transposing my emotions to words, and then letting the reader recreate the essence of my story through his own polarised senses.
      My impediment to being successfully published, I believe, is my procrastination in completing a story. There is always another paragraph, another chapter, yet another rewrite to perfect the delivery. The result is often puzzle pieces that form an incomplete picture, and I get lost in the overall complication. I have several unfinished ‘symphonies’ that Schubert might be proud of.
      A further hindrance is my unwillingness to create three-dimensional characters based on real-life people that I deeply respect (such as my dad) and then tarnish them with the paradoxes of thought and behaviour inherent in fiction necessary to generate a compelling roller-coaster ride of a story. It’s almost like I’d feel somehow blasphemous in fictionally decrying a laudable individual.

      Regards,
      Barry.

      • The reader’s ‘filter’ has always been a topic of keen debate, Barry. Reader perception changes not just with every reader, equipped with their own preconceptions and prejudices, but with every generation. Goldsmith’s The Vicar Of Wakefield was lauded throughout the Victorian period as a portrayal of a pious man. By the 20th century, it was being viewed as Goldsmith’s sly depiction of Anglican hypocrisy. Every reader recreates their own text. It is the problem of all art. It should not deter you from creating fictive characters, whether or not they are grounded in real experience. The reader will transmute them into ‘their’ characters regardless, possibly a long way removed from your intentions.

    • in the writing of my book The Narrow Gate I purged much of what I had been carrying around with me several years, albeit in a fictional format where I could change up characters and scenes infused with imagination. it was certainly not a ‘confessional ‘. I created a different world peopled with my own characters. I did not write to purge, but after the work was completed I discovered that I was lighter than I had been in so long.

    • Alan Grieveson says:

      When I worked as a therapist one of the techniques was to suggest to the client they write about anything. The theory was simply that we all carry emotional baggage around that we spend a lot of effort keeping in and this results in phobias and other mental/emotional disorders. By writing in this instance, fiction, you can express that emotion effectively at a distance but also relive it in a sense. The cathartic expression of emotion, recalling and remembering buried feelings will often remove the disorders.
      Personally I believe a lot of writers write because their sub-conscious directs them that way, some act some become comedians.
      So yes go for it and write for yourself, and with feeling the reader I am sure will pick it up. Even my brother admitted getting emotional when reading Kadeyckaries, as I did in some of the scenes.

      Probably the wrong place to comment on your sailing boat conundrum with the body mysteriously appearing. My solution is that he was a stow-away in the wheel compartment of an aircraft that was coming in to land. Wheels drop so does the body. All the man sailing the boat might have seen was the yacht tilting over from the impact but the sails would hide the body.

      • Thanks, Alan. Creative writing has also been introduced in schools, I believe, for a similar purpose: it can help troubled children (among others) to reveal their fears and problems. Not least, it gives the teachers a useful insight into the minds of children who might otherwise be perplexing. Re: catharsis. One of Tony Robbins’ fabled therapeutic techniques is to have someone work through a traumatic incident, over and again. Each repetition dulls the pain. The incident is then nullified by being ‘written over’ with comic images. Perhaps that’s what we do when we get control of a memory by translating it into fiction?

        Re: your ‘body in the boat’ solution. Nobody here will understand! But I shall return to you privately…

    • I’m working on a book where one of the characters is loosely based on my deceased stepfather. He was an incredibly kind man to me, but the storyline required I kill the character off. I hadn’t realized how closely I had drawn the character until I began to mourn him. I was unable to pick it up and continue writing for several weeks.

      • Ay, Peggy, that’s one of the perils of inadvertently ‘writing the self’ in the guise of fiction. Obviously, you will have thought of changing that character’s traits radically, so they no longer resemble those of your deceased stepfather. But there might be other ways. When I drafted a story for my histfict anthology I had my protagonist confront a bully who taunted him with cruel phrases taken verbatim from my own childhood past. I could only write the scene by translating those phrases, ludicrously, into Elizabethan English. It worked – both to complete the scene and banish my traumas!

    • I am another late in life newbie, I have been planning my novel for a few years, and I have been procrastinating starting to write. Why? This post nails it for me. A month before my 12th birthday, my mother died from a heart embolism and 9 months later, my father died. In my WIP, my protagonist was traumatized when she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders when she was only 7 years old. I think I am afraid to experience those feelings of loss, even after all these years, yet I know I must for it to ring true. Thank you for showing me this. 🙂

      • Yes, it takes courage, Rebecca. One winner in my story writing contest had a habit of submitting stories, brilliantly written, but invariably farcical. I asked him: ‘Why not write something serious next time?’ He replied: ‘It would be too painful. I write comedy to cheer myself up. And that’s the only reason I write.’ I couldn’t argue with that 🙂

    • Thank you for this. As a writer, you know the internal civil war: “No! I feel crappy and my attitudes are competing for Crummiest Ever.” VS. “Well, then, plant your butt and write about it; you may connect with somebody who needs to read what you need to write.”

      • An interesting point, Dean. “You may connect with somebody who needs to read what you need to write.” I suspect that many stories that depict painful experiences – coping with disability, a broken marriage, bereavement and the like – were written by the author to help others. Those stories usually do very well at Amazon, although they were not written for commercial gain. Readers read them, not for recreation, but to move on in their own lives.

    • John, you have knocked a nail on the head.
      Writing is very personal process and I find lots of my own experiences and memories are incorporated into stories, either semi-factually or as starting points for extrapolations.
      My writing ‘career’ such as it is (I won’t be giving up my day job for a long while yet) started during an extremely stressful time 3 years ago and provided a creative outlet, distraction, or whatever it was I needed at the time, but now is an integral part of my life.
      It also allowed me to process some changed feelings about another quite different aspect of life which I needed to do to ‘move on’ in that area.
      Within stories I find some scenes difficult, both reading and writing, violence being one example. Still plenty of therapeutic opportunities out there!
      na zdravie!

      • I think we all shy away from writing scenes of violence, Matthew, unless we’re closet psychopaths. When I worked in a class for historical fiction authors, one student was writing a novel about the the first world war, replete with scenes of gore. He was the meekest man imaginable but explained: ‘I hate violence. I want my novel to show people how terrible it is.’ Well, he was a mite naive. That agenda has been visited a few times! But I had great respect for his courage in addressing, so graphically, a theme that he loathed.

        • Thanks for your reply John.
          Nice to know I’m not the only one.
          Many of my stories deal with a changed future due to environmental an other factors.
          It is definitely an attempt on my part to get handle on the uncertainty and fear that engenders.
          Cheers
          Matthew

    • That should have been “Crazy.” The Y didn’t take. Oops!

    • Hey John,

      It’s no so much the wallowing in pain that bothers me; it’s that the person who inflicted this pain is still alive…and known to be volatile. (Or should I say craz?) I want very much to write this story, (using different names, of course, to protect the guilty), but more than one person could be hurt.

      So…I bide my time. Waiting…waiting. It’s hard to restrain myself knowing this could be a best seller. LOL.

      Who knows? I might eventually write it, anyway. Aha!

      • Why not write a story in which you depict that villain as a lovely person? A paragon of virtue! That way, you haven’t defamed anyone – and it will drive them crazy.

        • A lovely person? Kill him with kindness? John, you are nicer than I am. LOL. The real story has the makings of a thriller. Drama, suspense, fear, tension, escaping the clutches of a maniac. Brakes failing on the car. Was the line cut? Death threats. Swerving at my car when this person met me on the road, etc…

    • Marie Hogebrandt says:

      Everything I write deals with demons, I’ve realised. The best piece I’ve ever written draws on so much pain and anxiety that I have to pause in revision from time to time.

      • I suspect it would be difficult to write a compelling story, that does not inolve pain or anxiety, Marie. Because our protagonist, to be interesting, must face obstacles. Result: pain. And it would be unreal if every obstacle is easily surmounted. One guru theorized that all great art starts as the sublimation of pain and ends with its transmutation into beauty. There might be something in that…

    • Thank you for another helpful post. I would add that I find it difficult to read some of my novel aloud because it still makes me cry, and I worry that when/if I get to do any ‘events’ after it is published I will not want to talk about these parts of the story in case I embarrass myself and my audience. Oh dear…

      • Novelist Sharon Bolton also has that problem, Barbara. When I heard her speak at a literary event, she flatly refused to discuss the personal incidents that had inspired her more distressful scenes. No doubt, they were based on personal experiences and writing them had helped her to move on.

    • Rod Baker says:

      I am new, and at 68, late to writing. I am finding it’s making me a more honest person. I have to dig deep inside to reach the core of my feelings to express then acurately on paper. The best part of writing is to read it again and again excising, chopping, and trimming with a surgical scalpel to pare down the work to a purity of feeling and experience…well close to purity anyway, then I send it to beta readers, and allow the kindness of strangers to help with the final snips.

      • Isn’t it strange, Rod, that the older we get the easier it is to confront the demons in ourselves? Because we’ve seen them at work in other people so often that we realise we are not ‘unique’. It can also come as a revelation to us that everyone hosts bad memories. Exorcising them on paper, and have our readers say ‘You too?’ is a form of catharsis.

    • Dr. Yeoman says “Readers fall in love with authors who, through their characters and events, disclose their own fallibilities.” He speaks of authors who have villains who commit horrific acts, and that people don’t personally connect that evil character with the author. But I have found that some don’t but many do. The same goes for some sexual scenes. I know their are some acquaintances who became very distant after reading my work. Of course, other readers loved it. But you could lose some friends; it’s a chance you have to take.

      • ‘It’s a chance you have to take.’ Ay, Clark. A writer who offends nobody has nothing to say. I once had a welter of people unsubscribe to my list because I’d titled a blog post: ‘Why men don’t like women authors, and vice versa’. In fact, it was a scholarly examination of sexism in reader perceptions. No bigotry in it at all. But some folk howled at the title as mindlessly as Pavlov’s dog. And they unsubscribed. Without even reading my post. Just console yourself, as I did, that you are well rid of such people. If they are offended by your point of view – that is, by you – they are unlikely to bring you any favors in future!

    • The internal story of my WIP is the protagonist’s aborted relationship with his long-dead father. (I’m told most folks understand having father issues.)

      I’ve spent almost 2 months NOT writing because the last thing I wrote was a full page of father issues Phil has . . . except, of course, it all started being about me and mine.

      I put it in the writing folder and haven’t done a thing since. Today, oddly, I scheduled to get my head back in there whether I liked it or not.

      And so, your thoughts are even more timely and helpful than usual.

      • Nice to see you here, Joel. Isn’t every author’s story a form of autobiography? Where else but in our own lives can we acquire plausible experiences? Perhaps the trick is to use them but disguise them. Even then, it doesn’t work. I put so much of myself into my Amazon novels that I have to add a disclaimer: ‘None of this is true’. But do I believe it? Hm…

    • My mother was killed in a road accident 2 days after my 16th birthday. My stepfather, who was driving, escaped the car without serious injury. I am now 67 and I still relive that time. Every time I kill a character (and I do that as often as the story dictates) I draw on that trauma and feed the emotion into the story. I think I was about 45 before I could talk about this death without tears springing to my eyes.
      We write to share experience as much as anything else. If we’re natural storytellers, we draw on our experience, mingle that with imagination, and let the characters we have devised carry the emotion through the story.
      Recent research has shown that women writers spend more of the words in developing characters than do male writers. Your joking aside about the shame of a man crying, John is a reference to the Western social idea that crying is somehow inappropriate for men. That’s a great shame in itself; the repression of emotion causes many problems for individuals and society. As men, we would do well to get under the skin of our creations: empathy can only enhance a story, whereas shying away from emotion is apt to render characters as two-dimentional. We could, perhaps, learn a great deal from the way women work with their characters in this way, don’t you think?

      • Indeed, Stuart. ‘Women writers spend more words in developing characters than do male writers.’ I suspect that’s because women writers tend to understand character better than men do. To generalize grossly, they live in a world of relationships. Men don’t. In my last consultancy, I had a female partner who could size up a new client at a glance – often in scandalous ways. But her analysis of that person’s character (sometimes scandalous) always turned out to be true. Conversely, I’d assess a client’s character superficially, often to my detriment. Why? I was just not interested enough in that person to care! (A terrible confession for a novelist to make, I agree.) Female authors tend not to make that mistake.

      • Catherine Chisnall says:

        Hi Stuart, I never knew that about your mum. My dad died of leukaemia when I was 13 and its only now I can really talk about it (age 46). I think that is how grief works actually.

    • Twila says:

      I’m writing about the death of my 12 year old son who died of cancer. He had a stroke about 3 years previous when they removed a brain tumor. The difficulty in writing from the heart about the experiences have made me a procrastinator, but every time I come back to it, I find there really is healing because he was a hero of true child like faith, and although there were many challenges, there was always true beauty to be revealed.

      • It may be crass to say so, Twila, but I do hope that writing through that experience will help you to come to terms with your bereavement. You will also create an enduring memorial to your son, in a very loving and thoughtful way.

    • christine law says:

      My dog I wrote about her several years ago in a short story. Even now thinking about the dog brings tears to my eyes although she has been gone for over five years.

      • Ay, I went through something similar as a teenager, Christine, when our family cat passed away. It had been a fixture in the house all my life. My father buried it in the garden under a hand-made gravestone. I do remember there were tears in his eyes when he came back to the house. Even now, it would be tough to write a story about that incident.

    • Vince says:

      “There’s very little you can tell people that they haven’t felt themselves.” How true. And often they have no one to whom they can ‘confess’ those shady or embarrassing incidents. Perhaps it is indeed cathartic to read of someone else who did/felt the same.

      • It’s also one way to write an effective blog post, Vince. Did you notice how I told a shameful anecdote above from my own experience? (It’s shameful for a man to admit he’s capable of crying!) But I hope it made the post more compelling.

    • Most certainly, John! I was in the middle of writing a short story when we suffered a close family bereavement, and everything that you say happened for me. It was a painful process, but I found it personally helpful and I think that the writing definitely gained something from a painful honesty. My beta reader (she who must be obeyed) called it my most ‘complete’ short story so far,

      • It’s good to see you here, Mick. I reckon all good stories derive from the author’s personal experiences of pain, mild or intense. Or the stories would not engage the reader. Even comedy rests upon pain or humiliation. Somebody has to suffer for others to laugh. (Puns contain a victim too, their audience. We groan.) Maybe our appetite for pain is bedded in our DNA? Why else do newspapers headline the bad news and bury upbeat stories on page ten? 🙁


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