I recently contributed a personal story to a book titled 101 Awesome Things To Do For Someone Who's Sick. Created by actor and award-winning author Elaine Wilkes, this thought-provoking book is filled with heart-warming stories and wonderful ideas to make life easier for anyone who is ill. I was honoured to have been asked to contribute.
My story was about a client I had during my 17-year real estate career in Southern California. She was a lonely widow in a retirement center who needed to sell her home. For me, it became more than just another business transaction.
It was a story I'd been telling for years and the book was the perfect venue to share it with a larger audience. I even created a YouTube video where I read my contribution.
I wanted to drive home the point that many people abandon their "loved ones" in such place, only to have them sit forgotten as they wait to die. I knew it would help others understand how people in this situation actually feel. It wasn't a long a piece, but as I wrote it, I was aware of the emotions washing over my entire body. As I finished, I found I had tears falling from my eyes. When I write such stories, this is not an unusual occurrence.
I know some people can't handle this, so I try to do my writing in solitude. Unfortunately, it's not always possible. This leads to people asking what is wrong or just coming to their own conclusions. It can be a pain in the rear, but it's better for them to just ask because those conclusions are often so wrong. And when they do ask, this is what I'd tell them:
I often cry when I write. If I can't feel the emotion in my story, how can I expect my readers to feel it?
For some people, it's a strange thing to do as you work. It also comes into conflict with an ageless taboo: "Men are not allowed to cry."
In most circles, tears from a guy are just not "normal". They're still considered a sign of weakness. And you'd be surprised how many so-called liberated women have also shared this belief with me. The stereotype still lives on!
Well, this man cries, especially when he's crafting highly emotional stories. I used to feel the need to apologize. I no longer do.
Of course, tears aren't the only feelings I show as I write. It obviously depends upon the story. I remember writing a Huffington Post blog post where I could actually feel my jaw muscles tightening in anger as the words came pouring out of my mind. Fortunately, I was alone. If anyone would have seen my face in that moment, they might have thought I was ready to punch someone's lights out.
There are, of course, times when I've written something that has literally made me laugh out loud. During these moments, anyone observing me might believe I've lost what was left of my mind.
For me, my tales are more than just words on paper. They're pieces of my soul I share with the world in the form of stories and anecdotes. And what is a soul without feelings or emotions? As I've said before, some people can't handle that and that's okay. I'll accept them for who they are, as long as they accept me for who I am.