Usually, I scan through an author I really admire like Sandra Cisneros or Anne Beatty to see how she handles a scene with someone crying to get unstuck. I am almost finished with a story about how I became my mother’s deputy, fulfilling all of her wishes while she was away working on a psych ward. I was twelve and ran our household. I want to show her walking into chaos and crying. I have a great scene written already with her notes swirling under the fridge but I need her to break down and cry and it’s just too cliche. Everyone cries. So what?
So I reopened the bible: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I read, “Fix instead on who your people are and how they feel toward one another, what they say, how they smell, whom they fear.”
Then I was able to slow down. What is happening around my mother while she was crying? Maybe our cat is licking out of its dish and I think, “The sound of the cat’s tongue curling up all that water is so satisfying and sad at the same time. Like hearing a humming bird zing into the backyard only to leave so quickly, you doubt he even came.” I’m using that.
How do you have your mother cry?! Post your answers, I won’t use them. I got mine from fleshing this out. Thanks Anne.