Yesterday was a crazy day. I have a Cocker Spaniel, Bella. She started getting sick two nights ago and refused to come inside. So, yesterday I noticed she wasn't able to walk so well. I called her Vet and had an appt set for 1:20. By noon she had crawled under our storage shed in the backyard and refused to come out.
I am petrified of snakes and pretty much anything that creeps and crawls, but I knew I needed to get her out of there. I stood by the shed for thirty minutes, gaining the courage. The shed sits about a foot above the ground and she was at least six feet in so, yeah, for me to get her I would have to crawl on my stomach and pull her out. At this point I'm crying because she has vomited a few times and is screaming in pain. My daughter, Rylie, is outside with me, begging me to help Beya (that's what she calls her). So I'm looking at my crying daughter and looking at my crying dog and decided to toughen up. I crawled under the shed, pushed aside the thick, disgusting leaves, and pulled her out. She didn’t move, barely breathed. I carried her to my car and raced to the Vet.
She passed through the night due to kidney failure. I am sad, but I am also very proud of myself. She was in tremendous pain and thanks to the Vet visit she was able to die in peace.
But this experience made me think about writing and how often we avoid delving into tough matters or subjects that personally bother us. Why? Why do we avoid hyper emotional topics? Instead we often write about OTHER people's troubles. For example, my parents are divorced. When I read a YA where the parents are divorced, I can instantly tell whether the author has actually experienced divorce. The writing will feel raw with emotion. And there are a zillion examples like this.
So here is our test: Think of something life changing in your life and the emotions you felt. Have your MC go through the same or similar experience and read the scene. I bet it takes you back. I bet the writing is pure and deep and beautiful. Because that's what true emotion does, it makes our characters relatable.
Our readers should feel our writing, not just read it.