I was dazed and listless for two days after I wrote the airplane escape scene
"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader."
When I first ran across this gem of advice, a lightbulb went on. I had never thought of it before. But it's sooo true. If the author isn't as genuinely engaged with the characters and story as he expects the reader to be, the falsity will show. How dare we expect readers to swoon over a book the author views with detachment? Moreover, we mustn't forget that publishers and agents are readers too, and they're even more likely to spot and reject a book on the basis of insincerity.
That quote gave me license to write not just a technically sound novel, but an emotionally personal one. And I did. It's partly because many of the book's vignettes are based on events in my real life, but even more because I so took the protagonist to heart. I'm not equating myself with Michael Chandler--I could never do many of the things he does--but I related to him deeply. Michael is like the uber-me, the person I would want to be in an ideal world.
My "tears in the writer" were literal. I was dazed and listless for two days after I wrote the airplane escape scene. I was so choked up I couldn't even write. After a couple of days though I realized that the cure was not to suspend writing, but to continue. I had to get Michael to a better Place. Even now, four months after completion, I still cry when I read certain parts. Of course, I cry at the dance scene in the movie Napoleon Dynamite, so maybe that's not saying much. But at least it's heartfelt and real.
And there have been tears in the readers, too. Several participants in my readers group as the book was being written told me they cried over certain parts. Nothing relating to the book has thrilled me as much as that.
My greatest hope for The Just Beyond is that it will engage, uplift, and inspire people. The proof will come in the comments readers make when it's released, but I'm gratified with the above indications that I have lived up to that standard. :) - Mark