In the Friday morning Feedback sessions, when ten or so women share comments about what each of us has written and submitted, I am often reminded to show more emotion in my pieces. I have struggled with that. I found a printed list of feelings, divided into long columns of positive and negative, and make efforts to incorporate those feelings into my chapters.
Why is this so difficult for me, expressing feelings? I looked around the room a few Fridays ago and realized that I am a generation older than anyone else. I hope that explains part of it. In my childhood, we were taught to sometimes be seen (“Show Uncle Glenn your new shoes.”) and hardly ever heard. Little girls were taught to “be nice,” and that meant to be quiet, to not draw attention to themselves, to not take up much space. “Keep your knees together and your hands in your lap.” “Move with gentleness. Young ladies don’t fling themselves about like monkeys in trees.”
So, if the younger women in the writing group wish me to express feelings, I like to think that means they were, as girls, encouraged to express themselves. That they were allowed to have feelings, to laugh big, sob in frustration, and even take up space. They flung themselves wildly around the dance floor and into their lives. What a great stride forward that is!
Eighty-plus years after I learned to “be nice,” I, too, have begun to say what is on my mind. I write words on pages and fling them out into the world in books and on a blog (Facebook and Twitter coming soon!) And I wish you could have been in the “Fun With Fitness” class this week, when many of us older women were dancing in unison to the sounds of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw, big band music we played on records when we were teen-agers learning to dance. Women kicked high and swung our arms out in giant circles. When our leader called out, “Four steps backward,” you’d better watch out. We step backward, swinging to the music, not even looking where we’re going.
I felt giddy and young and full of pep. No one said, “don’t take up so much space.” The leader said to me after class, “I am fascinated by older women who have a lot of energy and enthusiasm.” Well, we’ve just let it out…. And we are still nice! Now I’ll practice it in my writing.
How do you incorporate emotion into your life and your writing?