I’m no stranger to crying in public. Usually, I’m on the train or waiting in a line and having a good ol’ bawl. Let me clarify. I’m usually reading or writing. The types of books I read elicit a strong emotional response and I find myself most mornings digging around for the least snotty tissue in the bottom of my hand bag. Gross – yes. Unavoidable – absolutely.
I don’t consider myself to be an overly emotional person. Especially where the waterworks are concerned. Sure, I can put it on like the best of them, but I’m not really a crier. The last book I sobbed my way through was The Soldier’s Wife – written by Pamela Hart. It’s a wonderful book about a young Australian couple changed by war. I cried so much during this book, happy and sad tears. Which means I loved it – a lot. I had to start it again as soon as I finished it.
Anyway, I read and cry – got it. Now, I don’t really cry much when I’m writing, which I usually do in public. I get fabulous ideas from eavesdropping and people watching at the Apple Genius Bar. Weird I know, but such a diverse range of people use Apple. (Before anyone bans me from the shop, I was waiting for help, not just you know, stalking). It’s fascinating the things you overhear while people try and tell the Apple staff why their device isn’t working. Just an FYI, telling them that your phone got mysteriously wet and you have no idea how it happened, means that you dropped it in the toilet. They knooooow!
One day last week I was writing a particularly emotional scene on the train home. I hadn’t intended to write it, it just popped into my head as a natural progression to the story and I ran with it. The type of book I’m writing has lots of action, magic and romance which is all lovely, but a scene near the end of the book sucker punched me in the gut and left me a broken and sobbing mess. Meanwhile, peak hour commuters are looking sideways at me, while tears run down my face and drop onto my notepad. I try to be a silent sobber and most Sydney-siders will leave me alone in my creative misery.
Yet, this day I was standing next to a boy, he wouldn’t have been much older than thirteen. He touched my arm lightly and my first reaction was to jerk away. I mean, I’m on public transport, the only touching happening here usually isn’t consensual. But he handed me a tissue and asked if I was alright. God knows what I looked like – I knew my mascara was running from the black tinged drops on the page, so I probably looked like a sad mime. Once I mopped myself up and gave him a shaky smile, I explained that I was a writer and I told him what the chapter was about. He nodded politely and put his earbuds back in. Obviously the kindness did not extend to the weeping woman telling him the backstory to her urban fantasy novel. Which is fine. More than fine. The fact that in a packed carriage full of adults, it was the teenager standing next to me that took the time to make sure I was alright.
This kind young man has inspired a character in the next book, he might never read it, but I’ll always remember his small kindness and try in future to write the sad chapters in the privacy of my study.
I’d love to hear about the strangest thing that has happened to you while creating. Be it writing, drawing or taking a photo of that perfect moment? Even if it was just you alone shaking your head, wondering ‘if I told people I did this, they would think I was nuts!’
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