Keeping it Real with Feelings


Back in 2011 when I was tossing around ideas for this blog with now co-blogger Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, I was also going through a family crisis. One of my children had been in and out of the hospital for six months and there was no real end to this pattern in sight. Additionally, I had a book coming out on the first day of 2012 that I hadn’t had time to publicize, and I felt the need and desire to start a new blog. I remember telling Sudipta, “I want to start a blog but it has to be something I can handle.”

Choosing a format that showcases smart, accomplished women and also highlights quotes from women past and present ended up being what I could handle. I have enjoyed every interview and have been inspired myself by some amazing quotes while seeking out quotes to share with you.

But this format also offered a buffer. A buffer between the world and my emotions. Because at that point in my life, I felt I was hanging on to my emotions by a thread, and I was afraid that even putting them out there a little might cause me to unravel. Of course at that point, I wasn’t completely aware that this was what I was doing.

When Sudipta came on board in 2012 she wrote a few posts themed What Happens in High School Stays in High School. We had great response to those posts! I think this is because Sudipta shared feelings that our audience could connect to. We had a similar response to my subsequent post, Why I Went Into the Woods, which details the physical and emotional need to get away every now and then to achieve focus.

The human experience is so varied and vast, that no two of us share the same pasts, but we’ve all had feelings of joy and sadness, anger and love. Understanding this, as writers, also helps our creations.

The first time editor extraordinaire Patti Lee Gauch critiqued my manuscript at a Highlights Foundation workshop she wrote of my main character,“How does she FEEL?” in the margins about five times on every page. I had offered a good plot, but hadn’t given readers a means to connect to my character emotionally.  I’ve had to go back and flesh out my characters’ emotions on every manuscript I’ve completed. But at least I know to do that now!

Now that things are much better for my child, getting back in touch with those bottled in feelings doesn’t seem so scary. Sudipta and I have a lot of ideas about how to move forward with Nerdy Chicks Rule. We will keep interviewing smart women and we’ll keep bringing you inspirational quotes, but one thing we also want to add more posts about experiences… and how they make us feel!


*This summer I wrote about using feelings to help readers connect with writing over at Stephanie Scott’s blog. Check it out HERE.

*If you are a writer inspired to add feeling to your work, or a teacher working with students to make their work more colorful, check out the Emotion Thesaurus.