Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's Not About the Dance Steps



by Jo Robertson

I’ve never been a “So You Think You Can Dance” fan.

I know, I know. The whole concept is anathema to my childhood dream to be a dancer. Given that I’m a fairly clumsy, unrhythmic klutz, the dream was a fruitless one anyway.

Still, you’d think I’d have taken up this increasingly popular phenomenon called “So You Think You Can Dance.”

But now I've reformed. I’m hooked. I love that show!

During her critique of one of last season’s performances, one of the judges said,
“It’s not about the steps.”

The steps are varied – quick or slow, complex or simple, smooth or jerky. But that’s not what the dance is about.
The dance is about the passion, the energy, the sheer heart and soul of the dancers – that special something that emanates from the execution of the steps.

What’s this got to do with writing? Writing is the same thing. Instead of dance steps, we talk about rules of writing; instead of the dancer’s heart, we speak of the writer’s voice; and instead of execution, we refer to a writer’s tone.

But what’s really important about a writer is his or her unique and individual panache, her one in a million sense of flair, her ability to elevate the work to an epic level that leaves the reader so moved, whether with sorrow, happiness, laughter, or pain, that she tingles both in her brain and in her body.

It doesn’t matter if the book is a romance, suspense, or comedy, the tingle has GOT to be there.

Lots of writers follow the formula. Put the correct words in the correct order. Dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s.” But their books are quickly read and easily forgotten. The ones who stay with us, the ones we read over and over and over again, the ones we have double copies of – one for marking and one for preservation, and perhaps even one for an autograph if we’re lucky – those books are the ones that move out of the realm of the ordinary and into the arena of legend in our minds.

We writers all want to be that kind of writer. All readers want to read their stuff. All editors and agents want to discover those authors.

I’ve recently become hooked on Loretta Chase’s books. Some of her books are so beautiful, so precisely executed, so damned emotion-wrought that I cry. Okay, maybe I’m a great big boob, but I usually don’t have that “stop and think about what I just read” feeling except when I’m reading the classics.

So what about you?

What affects you so deeply you can’t control your emotions?

Does your heart still pitter-patter when your lover does something unexpected for you?

Do you giggle uncontrollably during a ridiculously hilarious movie?

Or weep when one of your wee ones gets hurt, physically or emotionally?
Come on, tell us, share your stories. What moves you?

56 comments:

Donna MacMeans said...

Moi?

Donna MacMeans said...

I was so excited about being the first commentor, I totally screwed up my first comment and was afraid I missed it (blushing).

Definitely, it's all about the emotion - be it dancing, singing, or writing. I laugh out loud at comedies. Not a big crier in movies unless it's lost love or involves a child...or a golden rooster.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh,man, I was SOOOOO close! That rooster is avoiding me.

Donna, congratulations, you wotten wooster napper! Um, you lovely Bandita, you...

Jo, what a lovely post. You know, I wanted to be a dancer when I was a wee gel too. Pestered my parents for years to get me ballet lessons (yeah, I wanted to do the really TOUGH stuff! Never mind that I didn't have the coordination to catch a ball and I fell over at the drop of a hat, generally OVER the hat!). That was my dream, to be a ballet dancer. You're right. It is all about the emotion. Oh, I'm so glad you love Loretta. Which one is your favorite? I think I'd have to toss up between Lord of Scoundrels (naturally!) and Mr. Impossible (LOVED Rupert) and a couple of the old Regencies The Sandalwood Princess and Knaves' Wager. They're brilliant! No rumpy pumpy but man, she really invests those stories with sexual tension and makes them sizzle. I'm so glad she's back writing again. There was about eight or nine years where I had to just re-read my old LCs to get my fix!

Now, cha-cha-cha-ing back to the cave. Taking your words of wisdom about writing with me, my friend!

jo robertson said...

Oh, yes, Donna, you! Congratulations. It's been quite a while since the chook has been to the midwest.

Blogger has been royally messing with my mind tonight! I've kept trying to alter pictures, words, font and colors to no avail.

Grrrr, sometimes blogger produces a very nasty, ugly emotion in me!

jo robertson said...

I love to laugh out loud at a comedy film or TV show, Donna, especially if someone else (aka Dr. Big) is in the room sharing it with me. I find his guffaws are a heart-beat behind mine. Hmmmm, wonder why. But it's so much more enjoyable when you share it with someone.

Have you ever been to a movie which you thought was out-of-this-world hilarious, but there weren't enough people in the theatre to share the laughs. Uh, pretty weird. There's a kind of shared energy in laughter.

jo robertson said...

Ah, Anna, close but no cigar!

We must be kinesthetically-challenged soul sisters. I could always FEEL the beauty and grace of the dance steps, but I couldn't reproduce them LOL.

One of my granddaughters can trip simply standing still she's so awkward. Every time this happens my daughter looks askance at me. She knows where she inherited her clumsiness from. Poor girl!

flchen1 said...

Woohoo! Donna! The GR's dancing over at your place tonight! And so close, Anna! Soon! ;)

Like Anna, I SO wanted ballet lessons! I finally started when I was 17 and LOVED it. Still do! It's just an emotional response that I have to dance--both watching it and doing it.

I haven't read enough Loretta Chase yet, but have loved what I have read! She does a lot of it so well--good story, excellent characters, humor, and the heartfelt emotions!

Don't watch too many movies, but I do sometimes cry (I think I even teared up watching Toy Story 2...)--I'm a sap when it comes to watching the big screen.

And giggles are definitely more fun when shared, whether it's pressing a friend to read a book you just loved or watching a movie together or just shooting the breeze...

Thanks for the fun post, Jo!

jo robertson said...

Oh yes, Loretta Chase is up there with Anna Campbell, Christine Wells, and Donna MacMeans in my book (smile).

I think Lord of Scoundrels was my favorite, Anna, but I'm now reading Mr. Impossible and I know what you mean about Rupert. Chase writes his character so impeccably funny that I adore him even though I usually like my romances dark and sinister.

jo robertson said...

Okay, Anna, back to the Cave! But when you peek out again, tell us about Chase's hiatus from writing. I'm a Chase-virgin and can't believe I've waited so long to discover her books.

Uh, "rumpy pumpy"? Never heard that one before. Is that like Shakespeare's "the beast with two backs"?

Naughty Anna, maybe you'd better remain in the time-out Cave for a while.

Anna Campbell said...

I'm not sure what's behind the hiatus, Jo. Maybe producing at her level of quality, you just need a break now and again to refill the well. But there was definitely a long gap for diehard fans!

Sorry about the R-P. I got in trouble for saying 'nookie'! ;-) Now I must ask myself - why do I know so many silly terms for naughty things? Is it because my father was a Benny Hill fan?

jo robertson said...

Undoubtedly it was all due to Benny Hill, Anna. I'd just never heard that one before! We're allowed to be a little salty in the Lair, aren't we?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jo, you and me, we can be as salty as corned beef if we like!

Helen said...

Well done Donna it has been a while since he visited you hasn't it have fun with him

Great post Jo never been a dancer and I don't watch it either although I like the adds those guys can really dance.

I laugh at funny movies cry my eyes out at sad movies cry when my children are hurt or upset and am even worse with the grandkids and as for reading books I love them emotional I have been known to cry in a few books Anne Gracies get me all the time they are so emotional I have just finished His Captive Lady and that is one fantastic emotional book really well written.
I too love the Loretta Chase books that I have read only two so far but I bought all of her books about a month ago so have them on the TBR pile should be able to get to them soon.

have Fun
Helen

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Congrats on the GR Donna, Flchen must have found that last set of keys.
I always wanted to dance when I was a youngster too, and as with some of you, I am a klutz from the get go. I so relate to your granddaughter Jo, I can be standing still in an empty room and fall down. Put a chalk line on the floor and I will trip over it. I can watch Dirty Dancing and feel my heart swell with joy watching them dance but couldn't do it myself for love nor money.
My children are not wee ones anymore but I still cry for them when they hit an emotional wall. My son struggles daily with school and that has caused many tears. My daughter is in a not so good marriage, far away from me and that has caused quite a few water works. A cross between frustration and feeling their pain. Frustration because there is nothing I can do to help or make it go away.
I love to laugh, and so many books and movies gives me just cause to let loose with some belly laughs, this blog has done the same. My BF loves it when I sign on when he is here. There has been way more than once I have been quietly reading then bust out laughing and he comes running. "What? What did "they" say?"
Music is an emotional experience for me. I can hear the opening bars to some songs and get chill bumps in anticipation.

Caren Crane said...

Donna, congrats on the Golden Rooster! He may need a map to get out of your neighborhood, it's been so long since he visited. *g*

Jo, the older I get, the less I am moved by things. Unless I'm hormonal, of course. Then I cry over ANYTHING: songs, commercials (even radio commercials), pictures. I become a real cry baby for about 24 hours a month. *g* After that, very little makes me tear up.

My husband is wonderful, but he's the least sentimental man on the planet, so romantic gestures are not something even on the radar chez moi. He does surprise me ever once in a great while, but then it's often SUCH a surprise that I don't react as I should. Hey, it's hard to swoon and get teary when you're in shock. ;-)

Caren Crane said...

Anna, let me add to the Loretta Chase love! I know everyone else loves "Mr. Impossible" but I loved "Lord Perfect". Also, "Your Scandalous Ways" has almost supplanted "Lord Of Scoundrels" as my all-time favorite. (Will I be burned for that?) And YES, Loretta can make me teary-eyed!

Maria Lokken said...

Jo - I can't believe you mentioned the show "So You Think You Can Dance". Marisa turned me onto that show and said I HAD to watch it.

I was a dancer. I went to the NYC high school of Performing Arts and then I graduated from the Juilliard School as a dance major (in fact, I met my husband there - he was studying opera). Any way, I used to be incredibly critical at all dance concerts - but seeing those dancers on stage, doing any type of dance, made me think - "Who am I to criticize" - when seeing them dance simply filled me with joy. Suddenly, I realized the critical side had left me, and I was swept up in the fact that there was a joy of creation happening on stage. It's now hard for me to be critical about most things, because I know an artist, whether a dancer or a writer has poured their heart into a creation.

Gannon Carr said...

Great blog, Jo.

I love to watch people dance, but I don't watch that show. I've seen Riverdance three times, and it's a thrill every time. I wish I could dance like that, but I doubt that will happen at my age. So I'll just enjoy watching the experts. :)

I cry and laugh very easily at books, movies, TV, my kids, etc. What can I say, I'm easy! LOL!

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Donna.

Carol said...

Hi, Donna congrats on seizing the bird!

My Favourite LC (the diva) is Lord Perfect! Love them all!

My favourite all time dancing movie is Saturday Night Fever... Love the dancing and the music!

I'm a great big sook in movies! The one I cried most in was an old Sally Field one where the poor mother was dying and found parents for all her children...I was a mess! The next day I could hardly see out of the old peepers! I avoid that amount of pain now.

Dancing wise...hopeless at it! can't seem to remember what step comes next, I do sooo... admire anyone who can dance!
Cheers Carol

Kirsten said...

Hey Jo, great post! I was in a writing hiatus during the first season of So You Think You Can Dance, and absolutely LOVED it. I can't dance, but watching those kids...wow. It was incredible. I can't find the time to watch it right now, but I'd love to. I love seeing someone with a skill like that, and the ability to do something so beautiful and unique. It actually makes me a little giddy.

I can't watch sad things. Makes me TOO sad. I don't know if I internalize other people's emotions too much or what, but I've never liked sad movies. They're excrutiating to me.

Same with embarrassing things. Like embarrassing mix-ups in sitcoms? I cringe and run out of the room. Can't watch it. Isn't that absurd? I'm like a little conduit their trauma.

Louisa Cornell said...

Oooh! You got him, Donna! Hide that corset purse! We KNOW he likes it!

Jo, what a sweet and inspirational post. Having been forced to take a number of dance classes as part of my opera training I have a tremendous respect for those people who dance professionally. They make it look so easy! I think "it isn't about the steps" is true of any creative endeavor. With singing it isn't about the notes, it is the song - the aria - the ensemble piece that is important. When you create it is good to know all of the things that are needed, but then when you sit down to create you have to put all that aside and just create. Easy to say, right?

Put me in the Loretta Chase fan club. I love all of her books, but Lord of Scoundrels is my favorite. The whole time I am reading it I see that poor little boy that nobody loved.

So many passages in Claiming the Courtesan made me cry because Verity and Kylemore tried SO HARD!!And the end of Untouched always makes me smile.

Another book that makes me cry is Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale. When he storms into that church and listens to her read that horrible "truth" paper and tells her how he feels in that poor halted speech it makes me bawl every time.

Another book that makes me cry is Mary Balogh's Simply Love. Just so terribly, terribly sweet.

Of course music definitely has the power to make me cry. Nessun dorma from Turandot makes me cry every time. It is just so perfectly beautiful. The end of Madama Butterfly and the end of La Traviata always make me cry.

I also like to laugh! Julia Quinn's To Sir Phillip with Love always makes me laugh. Those kids are so HORRIBLE and too funny. Teresa Medeiros wrote a book called Charming the Prince. It is a medieval and it is a HOOT!!

When I am down I have a couple of movies that ALWAYS cheer me up! Raising Arizona, Shaun of the Dead, Death at a Funeral.

Of course I can always count on the Banditas to make me laugh. The tales of the Golden Rooster alone keep me going!

p226 said...

I'm not a dancer. If I try, I look like lurch on ludes. But I get the "heart" thing when it comes to performances. I've heard most of Chopin's etudes a number of times. And, my response was always, "Ok, that's an awesome composition. Must be very challenging to play. Wonder how long the pianist practiced that. *yawn*"

Then I saw Valentina Lisitsa (world renowned virtuoso) play them live. She left me hanging on every note. And this is Chopin. There are a LOT of notes. Her performance brought tears to the corners of my eyes. There was nothing dry and mechanical about it. That was no robot up there. There was HEART in the music.

I experience this from the other side when I'm playing guitar. Sometimes, I'm just practicing. Running through notes, scales, songs I've played for years. But I'm an automaton. Playing from mental and muscle memory, and just letting them spit out the music I'm playing. Then, every once in a great while, I'll remember the energy from the first or second time I heard the song. And, I can't think of another way to say it, other than I "get into it."

I'm not performing for anyone when I do this. Just me, and maybe a cat. And maybe my wife or kid if they're in the room. But when I "get into it," there's something different about the sound coming from my amp. Nothing you can really put your finger on. It's the same note, played mostly the same way. But you can absolutely push energy (energy of all kinds, from rage to sullen darkness) through your instrument.

I *think* I apply this to my writing. I mean, time will tell if I'm any good at this writing thing. Maybe. But I think that when I write, I'm *always* trying pushing that energy into the page. Pushing it into translating the virtual screenplay in my head into the words on the screen. If the energy isn't there, if the screenplay in my head isn't vivid, if I can't feel the scene as if I'm in it, writing feels like an automaton. Lifeless. Mechanical.

Maybe that's why I write so slow. I don't want the automaton in my pages. Though, I suspect it's there in a few places.

Blech. At some point, I'm going to have to turn this over to others to decide that. Gee, can't wait.

jo robertson said...

Flchen1, I envy your ballet dancing. Do you still take lessons or perform?

I had a friend whose husband built her a dance studio in their house when she took up dancing at age 55. That was over 20 years ago and I think she's still dancing!!

jo robertson said...

Helen, have fun with all those Loretta Chase books! Have you read Lord of Scoundrels yet? That's a real emotional ride!

jo robertson said...

LOL, Dianna, that's EXACTLY what my Corinna does -- tripping over chalk lines LOL.

I think it's much harder to worry about your older children's woes than when they were little and just had bumps and bruises. You feel so powerless to help them and their problems are so much greater.

jo robertson said...

I know what you mean, Caren. It's like you can't afford to be emotional when you have all the responsibility of work, home, and family.

I think it comes back around though, post-hormonal because I get emotional at the drop of a hat now!

My poor husband has given me gifts that not only did not MOVE me, but made me bite my lip to keep from laughing and hurting his feelings. For a smart man, Dr. Big has been known to buy some really dumb gifts.

jo robertson said...

Maria, what a beautiful comment!

I was especially taken with Jason (whose last name I can't remember) in this last season. He's so young and passionate and alive. Not to mention those amazing thighs and bum LOL!

I'm taking my daughters to see the SYTYCD in concert next month and we're terribly excited to see the show live.

jo robertson said...

Riverdance are very impressive, Gannon. They amaze me! Have you seen them live then?

jo robertson said...

Does anyone remember the name of the Sally Fields movie that Carol mentioned?

Another movie with Sally Fields that kept me bawling and laughing too was "Places in the Heart" which has a beautiful musical score and features Danny Glover and John Malkovich.

It's a great movie of triumph over adversity.

jo robertson said...

Channeling all those emotions from other people is probably what makes you a great writer, Kirsten! But very draining.

Louisa, music definitely has the ability to unleash powerful emotions. I think that's why so many writers listen to music when they write.

jo robertson said...

P226 said, "But you can absolutely push energy (energy of all kinds, from rage to sullen darkness) through your instrument."

Beautifully put. When I'm writing sometimes I have to put out a lot of dreck before I tap into that energy.

flchen1 said...

Jo, no need to envy--it isn't too late! Get out your dancing shoes :) As for me, I just dusted off my ballet slippers after a five-year hiatus and started taking classes again (with my daughter's dance teacher, actually ;)) It's still fun, but things are uh... creakier... than I remember them being before.

Cassondra said...

Jo, this is a great post, and very thought provoking for me.

Of all the performances I've seen (and I've seen MANY), and the ones I've given, there are only a few times when I've seen a human soul carried on a performance--and even fewer times when I've managed to do that myself in my own performances.

The most recent was almost a year ago at a symphony concert. The featured violin did a medley of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. I sat there and couldn't stop the torrent running down my face for the 30 minutes she played. And yes, she poured her soul into it for that long a stretch. It was amazing.

And because I spent the first half of my life as a performance artist, doing the same thing with the written word has proven difficult. It's the same TYPE of skill, but I think each one is subtly different--being able to push that energy through music, through dance, or through a paintbrush, or through writing. I've tried all of them, and admit that I haven't mastered any. The closest I've come is with my voice and the keyboard and when I was very young and performing, the guitar. I also came close with songwriting, which is an interesting combination of "instruments."

Nowadays, I struggle with a laptop computer as my "instrument" and struggle I do. Indeed.

Cassondra said...

Oh, and I meant to add:

A lot of times we discuss writing contests among ourselves. There's something about finaling in the Golden Heart and winning a number of contests that lets you know you are, at least, getting the steps right and going a little beyond that. I bet Louisa can attest to this--it's a great affirmation.

But when I talk to new writers, about to enter their first contests, I always try to explain to them that they have to take contest judgings as a "whole"--not as individuals usually. I spoke to a couple of new writers at lunch at the San Francisco conference and tried to explain that they have to take the whole of what they're hearing, and not focus too much on any individual critique.

We all know that when you're getting back bad scores in contests it's very discouraging. And you're usually getting back lots of different opinions on what you could do better.

There is never a more important time for a writer to understand that "It's not about the steps" than when he/she starts to enter contests. The steps are important, because they define which dance you're doing--which genre you're writing in. But the passion and the power you move through those--when you're writing--I think that's what we call a great story. And if the story ain't there, ain't no amount of pretty steps gonna fix it.

A lot of new writers spend a lot of time futzing with the steps because of contest feedback. I always try to tell them that it's most important to take note of the people who are saying "Here's what's wrong with your STORY." That's where the passion is. In the story. And it's not about the steps.

Nancy said...

Donna, I hope you have a busy day planned for that bird. We need to wear him out!

Anna C., maybe the bird's afraid of you? IMHO, a little fear is good for him. *g*

Jo, I agree that there's something different about the books, movies, performances, etc., that go beyond the norm. I just wish I knew what it was. I'd bottle and sell it and become wealthy beyond my wildest dreams.

Sometimes it's the creative passion behind the page--the extra crackle in the words or the sharpness in the music or the body language of a dancer. Beyond that, I can't go.

Fedora, I took ballet in 2nd grade. I was terrible--no coordination! I do enjoy watching it, though. For my birthday one year, a friend took me to see Baryshnikov dance at Lincoln Center. This was in the last years of his career, and he was dancing a character role rather than the lead, but the whole experience was marvelous.

I cried at the end of the movie October Sky, about Homer Hickam and the rocket boys, and at the end of Pieces of April with Katie Holmes. I cried over Trish's book. I cry every time I read about the horns of Rohan blowing in the morning, echoing from Mt. Mindolluin's sides, to tell the besiedged defenders of Gondor that relief has arrived (in The Lord of the Rings). Those are all different, so I don't know exactly what triggers the tears.

terrio said...

I find the older I get, the easier I cry. But it's heartbreak that gets me the most. If I can feel the character's heart breaking, then it breaks mine. SEP is a master at this. But I also remember being 17 and crying my eyes out reading Judith McNaught books. Oh, and if you can read LaVyrle Spencer without crying, you're a stronger woman than I.

It sounds terrible, but this is what I want to accomplish with my writing. I want to make the reader cry, then make her smile with satisfaction at the HEA. Then maybe make her want to read it again and buy copies for all her friends. LOL!

Cassondra said...

Terrio said:

It sounds terrible, but this is what I want to accomplish with my writing. I want to make the reader cry, then make her smile with satisfaction at the HEA. Then maybe make her want to read it again and buy copies for all her friends. LOL!

Terrio it doesn't sound terrible. It's what every one of us Banditas wants. Every. One.

terrio said...

I can't believe I forgot to say I love this show! I too wish my mother had put me into dance classes as a little girl. And the dancers on SYTYCD are amazing to watch. Better than any other talent based show on now IMO.

Kirsten - we must be long lost sisters. I'm the same way with the embarrassing stuff on sitcoms. I just can't watch. And if there's a movie about a child being taken or hurt, then I'm out. I can watch two people hurt emotionally, but other than that, the hurt is too much for me.

Thanks, Cassondra. That puts me in fantastic company!

Anna Campbell said...

Hiya Miss Louisa! Mwah!!! Thank you. Actually there's a bit in Untouched that always makes me cry and I wrote the ^^$$$## thing. It's the big love scene towards the end, but not at the end (trying to avoid spoilers here).

P226, I agree with you about heart and music. You hear a lot of people who play the notes with speed and accuracy. And frankly, who cares? Well, probably their mother. I was lucky enough to hear Vladimir Horowitz on his last tour before he died. Over 80, full of beans like a teenager, and the most marvellous artist. Played wrong notes all the time - yet the music danced and sizzled and wept. Honestly, one of the great experiences of my life. He could have played chopsticks (with wrong notes!) and the soul would have been there!

Joan said...

Hi, everyone!

Sorry to have been absent but Hurricane Ike did a number on Kentucky and I've been without power (and limited internet access) for 4 days.

Not anymore! I'm back.

I agree wholeheartedly about emotion being the key to music or stories or performing arts like dance that make a difference.

Riverdance WILL do that as will the movie "Steel Magnolias". Cry every single time Melynn tries to get her daughter to wake up and when Shelby dies.

I've never watched "So You Think You Can Dance." I'm a Dancing with the Stars gal all the way. The new season starts Monday and the utility company better be glad they got me back on line before that! :-0

p226 said...

AC said:
P226, I agree with you about heart and music. You hear a lot of people who play the notes with speed and accuracy. And frankly, who cares?

Then followed it up with:
Well, probably their mother. -- which made me laugh and laugh hard.

So. True.

When I think about putting "heart" into things, I'm always drawn to the guitar solo at the end of "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd. That may be one of the technically easiest rock solos around. But it's easily one of the BEST rock solos ever written. Why? Because there's more emotion in that one solo than the entirety of the rest of the album combined.

Those guys knew a thing or two about putting heart into it.

jo robertson said...

Oh, dear, Fedora, I wonder how many bones I'd break if I actually took up dancing lessons, hehehehe.

Cassondra said, "Nowadays, I struggle with a laptop computer as my "instrument" and struggle I do. Indeed."

It's strange to think of your laptop as your "instrument," isn't it? I think all creative venues pose problems, but especially writing. It's so much harder than I ever knew. I wonder if some people think, "Okay I've read a book; that means I can write one."

jo robertson said...

And AMEN on the comments about contests -- so true. Learning the "steps" is just the first step -- pun intended LOL.

jo robertson said...

For heaven's sake, someone hand Nancy a cyber box of tissues! I think I see tears seeping through my laptop screen (VBG).

If you find the secret, girl, pass it on to us before you bottle it. Maybe it's like good art; you don't know how it's done, but you know it when you see it.

jo robertson said...

Terrio, that's not terrible. I'd be thrilled if readers wept over my writing. I think we all want to create that profound emotion in our readers.

jo robertson said...

Welcome back to the land of power, Joanie!! Whew, four days is a long time for computer withdrawal. It's a good thing they got it back before Dancing with the Star or there'd be hell to pay, right?

After all, we have our priorities!

Helen said...

Yes Jo I have read Lord Of Scoundrels and loved it. I am looking forward to reading the rest that I have here.

Anna Untouched brought me to tears as well in some of the scenes loved that book so wonderfully written
Have Fun
Helen

Gannon Carr said...

Yes, Jo, I've seen Riverdance live three times, and Lord of the Dance live once. Can you tell I'm a sucker for Irish dance?! ;)

Susan Seyfarth said...

Hi, Jo--

Sorry I'm chiming in so late today. But I loved this post. It's such an interesting question. As romance writers, we're all about emotion, right? So you'd think we'd be experts, right? Ha.

My emotions are all over the map. I can watch a scary movie, no problem. I can read dark thrillers (and I do mean dark) without ill effect. But put me in a pew & make me watch a baby get baptized? Waterworks. I actually start sobbing so loud my husband has to shush me. I don't know. Something about watching a community of people welcome a new & cherished life, promising to watch over & protect it from harm. It just slays me. I'm trying to sing Jesus Loves Me & I'm just bawling.

And yet I write books that I try like crazy to infuse with every deep & desperate emotion known to man & have yet to tear up at one of my own scenes. Probably I'm not doing something right.

But I have faith. One day, right? :-)

jo robertson said...

Helen, I think everyone loves Lord of Scoundrels, and of course, Anna's UNTOUCHED is absolutely exquisite for emotion!

Gannon, you're so lucky! I've only seen Riverdance on TV and I'm sure that's not nearly as exciting.

jo robertson said...

Ah, Susan, good comments. I know my daughters used to love blood and guts crime shows, but once they had children, they got very, very sensitive to any show that even hints at harm coming to a child.

It's that sense of empathy, don't you think? Like in a romance, we relive our own romantic paths to happiness, with events like baptisms or births, we re-experience our joys.

I've never cried over one of my stories either LOL, but mine are dark and sinister.

jo robertson said...

It's likely too late in the day for me to toss this question out there, but I had to cut my post short because blogger was being really pissy on me when I first posted early this morning.

I'd meant to ask if anyone gets all gooey inside over looking at old picture albums or photos. I love to look at them, especially the black and white or sepia ones. I see those young people (like my mom and dad) and wonder who those people really were. I'd like to have known them way back then.

I have a picture of my grandmother Ada who was a terrifying woman with long black hair (she was part Cherokee) and a fierce disposition. But this newly discovered picture is when she was young, about thirty and she looked so beautiful. I wonder what happened to her.

Anybody else like looking at old pictures?

Louisa Cornell said...

Late from work, but had to stop by! Cassondra, you are SO right. The steps I've taken with my writing the last two years have stunned, amazed and sometimes really shattered me. But the contest wins and finals have been such an affirmation for me. Every one tells me I am at least stumbling in the right direction! And when the poor lady called to tell me about the Golden Heart I was STUNNED SPEECHLESS! I can tell you, that does not happen often. Then once it sank in I could not stop crying!!

Back at you, La Campbell! Thank YOU for writing the kind of books that make me laugh and cry and fall in love with the characters.

I cracked up at the "mother" comment. Boy, I have listened to a lot of performances that only a mother could love! SHUDDER!

Try singing at a funeral some time or worse, try singing at Auchwitz. Don't know HOW I got through that one!

The thing about music is you can be the most fabulous technician in the world on your instrument, but if there is no passion, no love, so soul - it is not music. It's just noise. The piano professor at the small women's college I attended used to say that the difference between playing or singing the notes and making music was like the difference between making love and *$#@ing. Both achieve the same basic thing, but one is far more moving and thus far more lasting.

limecello said...

It's the situations that get me - the emotionally fraught scenes that were inescapable. [If a problem could have been resolved with a simple phone call or a few words I just get annoyed.] But otherwise, I'm happy to laugh, cry, and angst right along with the characters.

Carol said...

Sorry everyone...how could I forget it was the perfectly lovely Ann-Margaret...(slaps hand to forehead)

Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Ann-Margret is beyond praise in her TV movie debut as the real-life Lucile Frey. A poor, minimally educated rural Iowa mother, Lucile learns on the occasion of the birth of her tenth child in 1952 that she is dying of cancer. Reasoning that her husband (Frederic Forest) is not responsible enough to take care of her children on his own, Lucile takes upon herself the task of finding suitable foster parents for her soon-to-be motherless brood. Not as depressing as it might have been, Who Will Love My Children? closes with the implication that Lucile's children were able to retain their family ties even after being separated for 29 years. The real-life Frey children were showcased the same evening that Who Will Love My Children premiered (February 15, 1983) on an installment of the ABC TV series That's Incredible


Cheers Carol...1983...blimy!

jo robertson said...

Hi, Louisa, glad you stopped by. What a great comparison your piano teacher made, one we romance writers could keep in mind.

Yes, yes, I remember that Ann-Margret movie now. Heartbreaking and so beautifully done.