For me as a reader, a story means more, resonates better, when it makes me feel big emotions. Personally, a story that makes me weep will stick to my bones better than a story that doesn’t inspire any big, identifiable emotion – glee, sorrow, fear, etc. For me as a writer, a story that makes me feel big emotion while I’m writing it will resonate better with readers (and the editors you have to move to get in front of those readers).
Right now, I’m changing lanes and working on a piece of creative nonfiction and it’s definitely been like bleeding onto the page. This particular piece hurts to write, but it’s also incredibly satisfying and probably a bit restorative but the wounds are still too fresh to see it. I can only hope it translates from me to the work to the reader well enough to leave its mark on them too.
The downside to writing so much of oneself into the pages and paragraphs is that it’s that much worse getting the rejections that are par for the course. Imposter syndrome is a very real and very interesting thing and I never feel it as much as I do when I’m writing nonfiction and sending it to markets. Just because this moment in time made a difference in my life, doesn’t mean anyone else will care about that moment. And then I remind myself that there is always a chance that someone will, that maybe someone else needs to be reminded that they aren’t alone in what they’re going through. The idea that maybe my words could make a difference for someone else someday is one of the things that keeps me on this path despite the struggles and the disappointments that come along between successes.
Don’t be afraid to bleed a little into your stories, metaphorically anyway. If you feel it, your readers will too.