"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader." — Robert Frost
I believe Mr. Frost had writers like me in mind when he said that.
Although I can't recall a time when I've cried while I'm writing (I think I'm concentrating too hard on getting the words down), I have been known to cry when I've read over a scene later. Two books have caused me to weep crocodile tears when I reached "The End": The Forgiving Hour because it was God's book more than mine, and I was amazed at what He'd done with my offering. And Ribbon of Years because Miriam, the protagonist, is the woman of faith I hope to emulate throughout my life.
However, I don't think crying over our own work is what's important or even what Mr. Frost meant. I think it's the tears of life that a writer requires. Life comes with laughter and heartache, good times and bad times, mountain top highs and dark valley lows. The novelist must experience them all. No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.
As a bonafide seat-of-the-pants writer, I'm surprised all the time by what direction my characters take me. One reason I'm an NOP (no outline person) is because if I do a detailed plot outline so that I know the whole story including the ending, I no longer want to write it. If I already know the ending, there will be no surprise waiting for me. So then I want to come up with another story, one that will surprise me when I reach the end. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.
Whenever I speak to aspiring writers, I tell them, "There is no 'right way' to write a novel. You have to try everything until you find what works for you." I have good friends who, when they explain their writing process, make me want to bang my head on the desk and babble nonsensically. My creativity entirely shuts down at the methods they share. I have learned to be mostly content with the way I was wired to create, even though I sometimes wish there was an easier way. But the truth is, just as there is no "right way" to write a novel, there also is no "easy way" to write a novel.
I am getting close to the halfway point in my current manuscript. Still lots of surprises ahead of me, and in this particular story, more laughter than tears. I am having a great deal of fun torturing my hero with a strong-willed heroine who likes to collect strays.
Now I'd better get this posted so I can get back to writing and discover what happens next.
P.S. Just for fun, here are a couple of photos from Mother's Day brunch at my daughter Micki's home. The first is of the two of us. The other is of the flower pots she gave to her mom (moi), her stepmom, and her mother-in-law.