Home » Creativity » The Zen of Artful Crying

The Zen of Artful Crying

During editing last night I was tripping through the part of my novel that I have to say contains some of my favorite passages.  Nothing major, just little scenes that get the characters into their new home after a strange situation, and allow them time to grow.  And to allow some interesting things to slip out.  Such as . . .

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Does your doctor do a glowy-hand thing with you before talking about crazy spirits?

Does your doctor do a glowy-hand thing with you before talking about crazy spirits?  I thought not.

But there’s a line right in the middle of the above passage that I like a lot:  “Hey, Red.” Coraline’s soothing, caring tone, drew Kerry’s attention back to her. “Nothing to be ashamed of—we all need a good cry now and then.”  And that’s one truth about Kerry:  he cries.  A lot.  Oh, it hasn’t actually happened yet–well, okay, it has.  He cries in the middle of his E and A–actually has two near-meltdowns–and is crying when he returns to Isis and Annie, and there’s a moment coming up . . .

But you get the idea.  Some might say that for an eleven year old boy he cries far more than he should.  He admits at one point that he last cried just as summer was starting, and that he hadn’t since arriving at school.  And in the course of his tenure at Salem, he’ll lose it more than a few times each year.

Annie cries as well–oh, boy, does she–but people would say, “Hey, that’s all right:  she’s a girl.”  Yeah:  she’s a girl.  A girl who as the story progresses could leave your rapidly cooling body in a bloody heap in the middle of any floor of her choosing, and would do so with little to no emotional response to wasting your ass.  Probably because she didn’t like you saying, “She’s a girl.”

I used to get that a lot.  I cried a lot as a kid, and I’d get the, “You need to toughen up!  You act like a girl!”  Well . . . yeah.  Sorry to disappoint you there, parental units, but your kid is a mental and emotional mess, so the tears are gonna flow–and insulting me with gender stereotypes isn’t going to help.  It wasn’t until I was into therapy like four decades later that I came to the realization that (1) it’s okay to be in touch with your emotions and if you gotta cry, let that fly, and (2) yeah, I’m also a big girl, so deal with that.

Kerry is, quite frankly, a mess as a kid.  He’s smart.  He doesn’t care for sports save for a few things here and there.  At home he feels unwanted and unloved, and emotionally he shut down over the summer of 2011–in part because of his home life, in part because of something else.  Coming to school forces him to confront issues he’d rather forget, and those issues make him open up to the world once more.

Particularly when this happens:

Yes, when a girl tells you she's your soul mate, you must do the kissing parts, Kerry.

When a girl tells you she’s your soul mate, you must do the kissing parts, Kerry.  You can’t say no.

He’s a clumsy kid who doesn’t know what girls are like and whose first kiss doesn’t end in jubilation jumping up and down with some fist pumping.  It ends with a smile and a softly spoken “Wow,” because he’s never been to this point before, and what else is there to say but “Wow”?

I like him and I like Annie, and I enjoy the dynamic they share, because as smart and as powerful as they both are, they’re still kids who probably won’t know the best ways to handle the situations they’ll encounter.  Which means a lot of doing things that feel right, but are probably not the right thing to do.  Like, you know, putting your life in danger by flying along a race course at extremely high speed because it’s fun, and you’re just racin’.

Don’t know how much I edited last night, but it was fun.  I got the kids in their fishbowl:  now to return to the dawning realizations and clean them up.

Cleaning up the realization that your a witch is not the same as a clean up in asile five.

Cleaning up the realization that your a witch is not the same as a clean up in Aisle Five.  It’s messier.

 

 

4 thoughts on “The Zen of Artful Crying

  1. Somehow, crying became a bad thing, which is strange to me, since it’s also a very human thing to do. I went years without crying, so I could be strong. I can’t imagine the pressure young men face. Clever topic to insert into your work, this.

    • I cried a lot of a kid, and always got crap for it, particularly from my parents and my father. Kerry is an emotional kid, though at the start of the story he’s really withdrawn into himself before the start of school–there’s a scene much later in the Act where he’s discussed by way of a report someone read which brought this up.

      But it seems like this is something you don’t see in a lot of fiction with kids–they remain stoic and strong, and almost never cry. He cries: so does Annie. They’ll both go through a lot of pain and see things that a normal kid would never see.

  2. I used to cry a lot as a kid. Other kids told me to stop “acting like a girl,” and the adults told me to “man up.” Today, I have my own ideas of what it means to be a man, and in my world crying is allowed. As Gandalf said, “I will not say ‘do not weep,’ for not all tears are an evil.”

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