Here’s something I’m curious about.

What makes you cry?

Tears are important in both of my books thus far. I’m not sure how that happened – I didn’t exactly set out for it to be a theme. Lucy almost never cries and Sophia bursts into tears at the drop of a hat, so they’re quite different at least. Crying is cathartic, it’s raw, it’s intimate. It can be a sign of vulnerability or a sign of trust. It fascinates me, so I write about it.

Maybe it’s because the weirdest things make me cry. Although I was devastated, I barely shed a tear when I had to put my poor, very sick kitty to sleep (not recently – no condolences necessary). But then I’ll burst into tears at the doctor’s office for no apparent reason. Perhaps India can explain this to me. For some reason, talking about the inner workings of my body to a stranger – even the most benign, unemotional stuff – always makes me tear up.

The one time I tried to give blood in a college blood drive – after like, 50 personal questions about everything from my travel habits to my sex partners, then two student phlebotomists and finally their supervisor poking about in both of my arms to find a good vein, then lying there for twenty minutes squeezing the ball while I sobbed uncontrollably, only to be told my veins were ‘bad’ and they hadn’t collected enough blood and I’d failed – FAILED – in my mission to save a life, and they gave me a brownie and a sticker that said “I Tried to Give Blood.” Oh, God. That day I was a wreck. I cried more in those two hours than I’ve ever cried in my life – all in the middle of a crowded cafeteria, too.

So what turns on the waterworks for you? Books? Movies? Weddings? Sex? Something really quirky, like me?

Oh, and how do you feel when heroes cry? Good, Bad, Ambivalent?


22 comments to “TMI Tuesday – Cry Me a River”

  1. terrio
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 6:56 am · Link

    What a great topic, Tessa. This is interesting too because I sort of wrote a tentative scene where my hero sheds a tear. He’s kissing away hers and doesn’t even realize that some of his are mixed in. But he’s not sobbing or anything.

    My ex-H could burst into tears almost on cue and unfortunately it took me years to realize it was a means of manipulation. So not cool in real life.

    I cry when I get angry which makes me madder which makes me cry harder. It’s a vicious cycle. But I’m finding the older I get the easier the tears come. Make me watch a really sappy Kodak commercial and I’m toast.

    I have a scene planned for the resolution of my book that I’m hoping will have the reader crying and cheering and clapping all at the same time. Wish me luck!



  2. Tessa Dare
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 7:05 am · Link

    You can do it, Terri! No luck involved.

    Isn’t how interesting how crying and laughing are often connected? “I laughed so hard, I cried” is a common phenomenon.

    I love moments like the one you’re describing, where the hero sheds a tear in the intensity of the moment. But I’m not so crazy about bawling men, either – in fiction or RL.



  3. Lindsey
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 7:49 am · Link

    I hate to cry. Like terrio, I cry most often when I’m angry, which sucks – being in the middle of a confrontation is not a time when I want to feel vulnerable. I’m also really reserved and bad at expressing my emotions, so I sometimes cry in frustration when I feel like people don’t get me & I don’t know how to express who I am or what I’m feeling.

    The weirdest thing I can remember crying about is being at the Student Center at my university and having them tell me they were out of grilled cheese. I think it had been a rough & emotional day all around, and not being able to get comfort food just broke me.

    I don’t often cry over books or films, but I don’t mind that as much – it’s easier for me to deal with emotions in a controlled environment. I guess I don’t mind heroes who cry a little in a certain situation, but I prefer emotions that are slightly repressed.



  4. Sara Dennis
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 8:11 am · Link

    I cry more easily the older I get too. I never used to cry at movies or tv shows or what have you. Now it’s a regular thing.

    I’ve made *myself* tear up writing things, though, which I call a good thing. If I’m crying, after all, the reader should. Right? Right?!

    I’m also one of those who cries when I get angry. And I hate it, too. Man, way to take the power out of an argument. Guys tend to go into either fix it mode or dismissive mode when girls cry, I’ve found. Not the best for a good argument.

    As for *what* makes me cry? I’m a giant sap. If there’s a romance with a very sappy HEA or I get *really* invested in characters and something sad happens, cue the waterworks.



  5. Tessa Dare
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 8:56 am · Link

    Great comments, Lindsey and Sara! Isn’t it weird how, it’s always a combination of factors that bring you to that point – but often the most trivial little thing that pushes you over the edge?

    And I agree – there is NOTHING worse than crying when there’s an important point you want to make. Especially in front of a man – they have a tendency to freak out.

    Once in high school, I had a teacher who had been making the most inappropriate, hurtful remarks in class – they weren’t even directed at me, but one day, I’d just had enough. I went crying to the school office and demanded to see the principal. (This was NOT typical behavior for me.) It took all of 10 seconds of me stammering and sniffling before he got this “oh-god-what-now” look and sent me off to see the school psychiatrist!



  6. Maggie Robinson
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 9:40 am · Link

    I’m afraid I’m one of those sappy people who cry at heartwarming telephone ads and movies and books…even songs can give me a lump in my throat even when I know I’m being manipulated by some Nashville honcho…but when it comes to RL tragedy, I’m usually amazingly calm. I wait until the whole thing is over and then the flood starts, in relief or frustration.

    And I hate, hate, hate to get mad with anybody other than my husband (I have no problem there 😉 ). I can’t remember the last time I got mad at my kids. When I get ticked off at work I want to kick myself and I work really hard at resuming control.

    That last time I cried, I was at work, shelving magazines. Either Time or Newsweek had an issue dedicated to letters home from Iraq sent by soldiers who had died. I couldn’t finish reading the issue. I don’t have family there, I know no one serving, but my heart just broke. I’m tearing up right now typing this thinking about it.



  7. Sara Dennis
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 9:46 am · Link

    It was Newsweek, Maggie. I saw that issue and lost it, too. I have a military family, but no one in the sandbox at the moment. Still. Powerful stuff.



  8. Kelly Krysten
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 10:58 am · Link

    Oh, very cool topic. I cry over really stupid things like Nike commercials(the older ones) and cheesy Hallmark movies. And usually when I realize what I’m crying about I laugh and then cry harder.lol. I don’t know why this is. But, when real things that are horrible happen in my life I go numb and never cry. People sometimes wonder why I don’t. I didn’t cry when I had to go to my cousin’s house this summer(who was like a sister to me) right after she killed herself. I don’t cry at funerals. Maybe I cry at the stupid things because my body needs the catharsis I didn’t get from the actual hardships.
    In my own WIP I have a tortured hero and I don’t know that people will cry over one scene, probably not in fact, but I did and he did.lol.



  9. lacey kaye
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 11:00 am · Link

    Giving blood and vomiting. Both way too yeck for me.



  10. India Carolina
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 11:13 am · Link

    Well first Tessa, I can tell you that patients cry all the time at the doctor’s office-for no apparent reason. We’re used to it.

    Personally, I think it’s because they feel safe. The doctor is supposed to be some sort of trustworthy person who won’t judge you. I love that scene in BABY BOOM where Diane Keaton cries in Sam Shepard’s office and then is furious to learn that he is a vet.

    I cry over books, movies, weddings, etc. But the times I’ve cried most (other than over the loss of a loved one)were at school programs. OMG the waterworks at my daughter’s first preschool “spring concert”!

    I don’t care for men who cry easily (just being honest even though that is a double standard). However, I LOVE a man who will break down and really CRY when the moment is very meaningful. I believe you made a few comments about my hero’s tears “streaming” being a bit much for your taste. Ah well. 🙂



  11. terrio
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 11:28 am · Link

    I did forget that PMS makes me cry. It’s very annoying. The first time I bought a car from a dealership and did that back and forth thing for hours I cried twice. And I knew it was PMS but of course I couldn’t tell all the salesmen that.

    And songs get me too, Maggie. The first time I heard Brad Paisley’s She’s Everything I cried because that’s the way I want someone to feel about me someday. LOL! And then there’s the sad stuff where the person the song is about always dies at the end. Damn it that’s just mean.



  12. Ericka Scott
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 11:52 am · Link

    I, too, cry when I get mad. . .it’s infuriating!

    Then, I cry over my kid’s checkups. . . even when they aren’t sick. I’ve been especially emotional over my daughter’s doctor’s appts. She has some kidney problems that will end up plaguing her for the rest of her life and the Drs seem to be in two camps. The “oh looky, it’s getting better, don’t worry” or the “Oh (said in ‘that’ tone of voice), I think she needs to see a specialist as this could be quite serious down the line”. Argh!

    Also, when my hubby and I start “talking” about things. . . goals, plans, life. . .I tend to cry. I’ll use India’s excuse and say it’s because I feel safe sharing with him.

    However, all those prior instances are “leaky” tears. PMS, Kodak commercials, and sappy movies can set off the sobbing, heartbreaking tears.



  13. Tessa Dare
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 12:04 pm · Link

    Well, India, it’s a relief to hear I’m not the only one who cries at the doctor! I do love that movie, too.

    But I usually like it when guys cry, so long as it’s justified by the intensity of the moment and fits the character. Jeremy doesn’t cry, but Gray will shed a tear or two. I think it takes a stronger man to cry, actually. Did I really object to ‘streaming?’ Okay, I looked it up – I commented on “sheeting down his cheeks in torrents.” Hmm. I guess I do have a sort of personal limit on the number of actual tears. I suppose I prefer trickles to streams and sheets. To each her own! 🙂

    Terri, I cry from PMS, too. Oh, and it makes me mad. Sometimes I put on a sad movie (usually Little Women – Beth’s death gets me every time) just to cry and get it out.

    Lacey – I have almost a phobia about vomiting. But I don’t cry. I don’t think I do, anyway.

    Kelly – I can be the same way – crying over the inconsequential things, but staying tough during real crises. My husband actually laughs at very inappropriate moments – such as being told someone died – which greatly annoys people who don’t know him well.

    Maggie – I’m staying away from that Newsweek. I know that would get me going, too.



  14. Tessa Dare
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 12:14 pm · Link

    Oh, yes, Ericka – the kids. I cry over my own kids, and everyone else’s too. Years and years ago, when a friend’s kid made his first basket in pee-wee basketball, I wanted to bawl.



  15. Sara Lindsey
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    · June 19th, 2007 at 10:53 pm · Link

    I cry a lot. Sad, happy, angry, pms-ing… the tears just well up. More in movies than in books, but it really doesn’t take too much to set me off.

    Animal movies are a certain way to make me bawl… put on Old Yeller or Homeward Bound and I’m a wreck. I can’t watch movies where parents die, either.

    I don’t mind having the hero shed a tear or two, but I don’t want him sobbing unless he’s convinced the heroine is dead or something equally terrible. I like my heroes to be alpha men…



  16. CM
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    · June 20th, 2007 at 6:41 am · Link

    I don’t cry very easily, but don’t see crying as a gendered thing. It doesn’t bother me much when men or women cry. The only time crying bothers me is when I feel like the person who is crying is doing it not because she needs to cry but for sympathy. When someone cries and it feels horribly unnatural, I get very uncomfortable and just want to walk away. Both in books and in real life.

    My dad cries very easily, and my mom–well, I’ve never once seen her cry. Not once. If I ever saw it, I think I would freak out and do anything she wants.

    But like Sara, animal movies get me every time! And all the stories from Katrina about animals–it’s sad, but those got to me more than the ones about the humans. Isn’t that awful?



  17. Lynne Simpson
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    17
    · June 20th, 2007 at 6:35 pm · Link

    Same here, with crying while angry. I don’t usually cry when I get angry, but there’s a certain type of utter rage and frustration that will turn on the spigots. In those situations, I will move heaven and earth to get the hell out of the room so I can cry in private. I have yet to break down in public while angry, but it certainly could happen.

    I don’t think of myself as a weepy or sentimental person, but I get teary-eyed over Hallmark cards, of all things! I can barely stand to shop for cards, as a result. I’ll be standing there in the aisle, reading those sappy messages, and trying all the while not to be seen wiping my eyes.

    Silly, huh? 🙂



  18. Darcy Burke
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    · June 20th, 2007 at 7:13 pm · Link

    I’m pretty sappy. I’ll cry over cards, memories, what-have-you, but not every time. It’s a mood (or hormone?) thing. One thing that almost always makes me cry? Music. Especially if I have to sing something. My throat cracks when I try to sing “You are my Sunshine” to my kids. Hella embarrassing, people. I went to see a play last year that my good friend directed (he’s a middle school drama teacher). It was the junior version of Into the Woods. I saw Into the Woods the year it debuted on Broadway (1987) and I know all the songs. So, of course, I’m singing along, tapping my foot (in the front row), and crying. He thought I was crying because the kids were so cute/good. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it’s some sort of weird physiological problem. Oh well.



  19. lacey kaye
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    · June 21st, 2007 at 11:54 am · Link

    The other day I almost logged on to agree that I’m one of those who cries when angry, and the loss of control makes me angrier, which makes me cry more… And then I wanted to talk about the soldiers but I couldn’t even do that.

    I’m back because today I got a letter from a soldier. I can’t say anything else about it.



  20. Tessa Dare
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    · June 21st, 2007 at 2:45 pm · Link

    Oh, Lacey! I hope everything’s okay with your soldier.

    Thanks for sharing, Darcy, CM, Lynne, Sara –

    Isn’t it interesting how we cry easily over cards and animals and movies and music, and hold back when real people are involved? Maybe because it feels safer to cry over the small stuff.

    I guess laughing can be the same way – it’s often the dumbest little thing that sends me off into hysterical laughter.



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