Where Does Emotion Come From?

Beautiful sunset over field with green grass. HDR image

About this time every year I start getting nostalgic.

Usually, it’s just a reaction to exhaustion after trying to get all the holiday things done around the house.

It’s tough getting ready for company, while keeping my lovely bride from throwing things in my direction when I’m late doing my share of the housecleaning.

Sometimes it’s just a nod to my own mortality, the specter of which raises its head more frequently the older I get.

Often, being the morbid sentimentalist I am, my nostalgia segues into thinking about folks I’ve lost … or people the world stage is simply less vibrant without.

One of the latter this year is Maya Angelou, an author and poet who was considered one of the most important writers of her generation. She died in May 2014.

I was a great admirer of her writing, having read her first powerful novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings while I was still in college.

I also sat in rapt attention while she read her poem On the Pulse of Morning, at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in January 1993.

I didn’t write about her before, which isn’t that surprising. While I’ve mentioned authors here before, there are a lot of folks I appreciated whom I’ve never mentioned.

You might remember an author I did write about … one of my favorites, Ray Bradbury, who passed away in 2012. I actually wrote several blogs about him.

I’ve lamented with friends about others I didn’t blog about, and who weren’t necessarily famous, including my friend John Kolmetz, who died last November at the age of 85.

Yet, John was an interesting man.

He began running marathons when he was 43. I doubt he could have explained it. It was just something he wanted to do. I met him several years after that so, for me, he was always running.

He ran in every Detroit Free Press Marathon (and quite a few others, including Boston) for 37 years. He finished his last marathon in 2009 at the age of 80. The man had heart.

I regret I didn’t keep in touch as well as I should have. He was definitely worth it. I’ve seldom met such a gentle soul, with the possible exception of my dear father-in-law, who turns 98 in January … or my own late father.

I don’t know why I get this way every year.

I suppose such nostalgia is a normal thing. As humans, we spend time thinking about the things we’ve done … or neglected to do. We reminisce and we lament our own shortcomings.

We’re all guilty of wishing things could be back again to simpler times, or that things we’ve done wrong could be done over.

Sometimes we just wish we could talk again to a favorite person.

Each of you Gentle Readers … each and every one of you … have had such moments yourselves. If you’re also a writer, that’s a good thing … those moments are something you can use.

I can tell you about fabulous authors or interesting people and give you pointers about showing, not telling, when you write. I can do that and more all day long, but I can’t put heart into your stories.

It’s easy to look up references to put facts into the things you talk about, but emotion comes from within.

If you fancy yourself to be a writer, my advice to you … use your memories. Embrace them. Talk about them often. Write about them. Your memories are a significant part of who you are, and what you have to say.

To write what you know, write what you feel.

It works.

Happy Holidays!


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2 Responses to “Where Does Emotion Come From?”

  1. Mary Hackstock Says:

    Nice post…I can relate to those nostalgic feelings at this time of the year. Sometimes I hear young parents just saying, “can’t wait until their older.” Every time I hear that I cringe…because they grow up so fast and we grow old so fast. Kind of a weird maxim. I gave your post a five star! Love

    Sent from my iSlate


    • Ron Herron Says:

      One of the keys to good writing, of any kind, is to put emotion into into it. That’s as true for non-fiction as it is for fiction. Growing up (and growing older) is part of living. Some folks are better at it than others … those are the ones who never lose that “child-like” sense of wonder about everything. They’re also the ones I envy the most.

      Thanks, Mary (by the way, did you actually ‘click’ on the 5-stars? I’ll take affirmation any way I can get it). 😉


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