As a reader, though, I love the experience of reading about a topic that makes me feel vulnerable. I love feeling as if the writer knows something deeply personal within me: my fears, my secrets, my weaknesses.
Sometimes stories shy away from this. It will feel like a missed opportunity. I once wrote a story about a relative who lost her mother. While I was writing it, I got scared that I would dredge up too many strong emotions in my relative, so I didn't go as deep as I could. As a result, my reviewers called the story "death-light." The material was there, but the depth and the heat of the emotion was not. For me, the result was something rather forgettable.
This weekend I started a new story that dealt with aging. As I was working on it, I could feel myself shying away from the emotions that might make a reader feel vulnerable. I caught myself in time, however, and decided to dig deeper and dare to face the consequences. As a result, I found that I was making myself feel uneasy. I began to question my own ideas about aging and its consequences. It was both scary and thrilling...and something I plan to do more of.
How do you feel about vulnerability? Do you make yourself vulnerable in your writing? Do you dare to make readers feel vulnerable?