Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sucking in Everyone Else's Emotions

Yesterday I posted about Character Development in everyday life. Looking around and taking in the ambiance that is someone else's personality. Today I'm thinking emotions.

Any decent author has a gift. They can pull out feelings and emotions that make the reader react. Just yesterday, in fact, one of my Street Team members posted that she was sitting in the high school parking lot crying because of chapter twenty in Penelope. I had put on that page the emotions of the character well enough that she felt what they were feeling.

Not all writers need this gift, but I'd venture to guess they have it too. And there are days that I don't think its a gift at all--the hurting over someone else's pain.

I have had great joy in my life. I'm the mother of five amazing sons! You never forget the joy of knowing you're having a baby or the moment you look at them for the first time. I'll never forget my husband getting down on one knee and giving me his mother's ring. I'll never forget the moment the word bestseller could go after my name.

I will also never forget looking at an ultra sound of my twins and there not being one heart beat. It's an ache so deep even eleven years later it hurts to think of that moment. And I'll never forget when we did in fact see it beat.

I've held a child that wasn't breathing and watched a machine keep him alive so that now he can amuck in my home nearly ten years later happy and healthy, but other friends have had to say good bye to their infants and some their fourteen year old sons when cancer took their lives.

Madeline from the Keller Family Series (A Second Chance) is based around my friend Lisa who was diagnosed, the first time, with breast cancer at thirty-three. I watched her long hair become a shorter cut, and then I saw her bald. I struggled with the knowledge that at the time her son was three and her daughter five. They were much too young to lose their mother. I gave those emotions to the Kellers. She walked me through what she was feeling. She shared with me how it feels to lose your hair. I gave those emotions to Madeline. The COO of my company, my dear friend Connie, worked with me as she battled plasma cancer. And her son wrote a paper after she'd gone the year of treatments with amazing strength. To see his side, and Lisa's daughter's side, of the story, you felt the pain those children felt not knowing what might be. I gave those emotions to Eduardo, Christian, and Clara. But I felt them first.

I feel when a friend is having a low time and there is nothing you can do to pick them up. I feel for the friend whose child has made decisions that will cost them forever, and you wonder what would you do. You watch your children go through things and you remember those times--the good--the bad.

All of it gnaws away inside of me and somedays it's hard to function even when my own life is going fine. But when that character needs to feel, I can make them feel. And when they feel, the reader feels.

There is nothing like having a reader contact you because you have changed their life. You understood their life. You connected with them.

There is nothing like having to stay away from your husband for a few days either, just because you're so invested in the emotions of others that yours are not true.

I find that happy emotions are harder to hold on to. Not because I don't want to feel them, but because joy to everyone is different, where I think pain is universal. You can be happy for someone's job promotion, but do you really feel giddy when they get it? But when they are broke and have been laid off an empathy comes out and you grasp their emotions and ride.

It's an amazing gift to be able to feel the joy and pain of others. The gift is one I'll treasure, but I'd love to find the antidote too. There are days when I think I wish I could say, "I don't have to worry, it isn't my life," but the gift to suck in other's emotions is one you don't choose. So I use it wisely.

Bestselling Author Bernadette Marie is known for building families readers want to be part of. Her series The Keller Family has graced bestseller charts since its release in 2011, along with her other series and single title books. The married mother of five sons promises Happily Ever After always…and says she can write it, because she lives it. 

When not writing, Bernadette Marie is shuffling her sons to their many events—mostly hockey—and enjoying the beautiful views of the Colorado Rocky Mountains from her front step. She is also an accomplished martial artist with a second degree black belt in Tang Soo Do.

A chronic entrepreneur, Bernadette Marie opened her own publishing house in 2011, 5 Prince Publishing, so that she could publish the books she liked to write and help make the dreams of other aspiring authors come true too.

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