When I was younger, there was one song that I absolutely loved and identified with. It was actually from a movie, a Kevin Smith movie, no less.
It was called “Alive” and was belted with such emotion by Joey Lauren Adams. The ballad is absolutely beautiful, I think, but the chorus is what really stuck with me:
And I want to feel passion
I want to feel pain
I want to weep at the sound of your name
Come make me laugh
Come make me cry
Just make me feel
And this is how I’ve felt for so long. I suffer with depression, and for a while I went on antidepressants to treat it. I think that’s when this song really began to strike a chord with me because those pills cut me off from all emotion – both good and bad.
Now, I understand and respect that I need all types of emotions to feel like a whole human being, and I think that being able to deal with sadness is an especially important thing for me. I seek out a lot of books and entertainment that often leaves me bawling, but it can feel so damn good.
I was thinking a lot today about what types of experiences I want people to have when reading our books, and if I could summarize it, it would be this. I want to make people feel.
Good. Bad. Happy. Sad. Aroused. Sick. Scared. Excited.
My biggest thrill is knowing that what Joshua and I write are capable of making our readers feel something. It’s such an intimate and shared feeling that is just so personal and sacred. The books I love, the authors I love, that’s what they’re able to do to me, and I feel closer to the author because of that shared experience.
Sometimes people think that have negative emotions because of something is bad, or that it means the media was bad, but that’s not true all the time. We feel negative emotions for a host of reasons, and many of them are because negative emotions are simply a part of being human. Of having a full, human experience.
Indeed feeling negative or bleak might be the emotion the author was hoping to convey, because feeling negative and bleak might increase your own awareness and understanding of others. It helps increase empathy and sympathy for others, and can indeed make you kinder to one another.
Not only that, but reading (or watching) something sad can actually make you a happier person! I know I’ve read plenty of books that I bawled over, but in the week after I felt this serene, calm happiness come over me. It was just an awareness of gratitude and acceptance.
And those lasting effects, they’re what we love to be able to impart on people. Having people think about our books, reflect on them days or weeks or months later is just an incredible reward, and it makes us both feel so close to our fans.
Perhaps it sounds sappy, but it feels wonderful knowing that we have such a connection to our readers.
So what do you think? What are the types of books that last in your memories?