… continuing part III of What Do You As A Writer Bring To The Page?
Picture of my parents above ... winter of 1954, my father was leaving that day. He's a Korean War veteran. My mother was not happy. You can see it in her face here.
Until I met my husband, pursuing the passion and dream of writing was something I did alone. He afforded me the time to devote to my craft, which I soon realized was not enough.
As storytellers, surviving life’s heartaches and hardships leave the residue of so much conflict to write about. Without the struggle, we do not possess the understanding and compassion, the inward fortitude to pursue our dreams that often seem so out of reach.
And for all of this, you need to put a smile on your face today. My purpose for this post is to offer encouragement. To help you separate the sheep from the goats. The wheat from the tares. The bland, “so-what” writing of telling and not showing. It’s time to pull emotional appeal out of your gut, from your heart, and raise the stakes. Time to create an original and unique voice that will live long after you are gone. Time to bleed on the page.
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
Be a fearless writer. Make the decision you’re going to do whatever it takes. Sometimes ... you just got to open that vein.
What are the events in your life, or in others lives with which you are intimate, that possess powerful magic to influence the stories you create?
I wrote Southern Fried Women during different eras of my life. Growing up in a Pentecostal fundamental congregation, I experienced a world reaching from the backwoods and hollers of West Virginia into the great and grand cathedrals of several high-tech megachurches. Living through my own dark days in televangelism, it inspired me to weave religion, spirituality, and the unexplained into my stories … stories that hint to an ancient bridge where the real and the supernatural meet. The biblical kind of supernatural that exists in all deep-rooted religious families.
In the beginning, I wanted to inform and enlighten the minds of my readers, but I learned something about myself in the process of writing my stories. I learned that what I wanted even more was to kick-start their hearts. For me, faith and spirituality have a way of doing that like nothing else.
My point is that as I look back, the horrific darkness I went through gave me a keen insight into the mind and life of struggling and desperate women. Women that I began to write about. The sparks of passion to develop my stories became a burning and all-consuming flame. As I wrote, the blinders lifted off my eyes and my ears became unplugged. I heard myself laughing, crying out, screaming and whispering secrets through the characters I created.
It seems no matter what I write, I draw from those times of tragedy and of triumph. Of horrific and hilariously funny times when all I could do was cry or laugh.
I strongly suggest you draw from your past, from the dark places you don’t want to think about anymore, of love lost and of love sought and found. From those desperate times you will find the words needed to fully develop the characters you were meant to create.
Nobody’s life has been a bowl of soft rose petals spread upon a fine, feather mattress. Somewhere you have experienced pain. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. It comes to us all. So use it. Draw from your own well. Your stories will deepen, strengthen, and yes—matter! At the lowest point in my life, my faith and the ability to write it down became my life preserver. It changed me, as woman, and as a writer.
Draw from your darkest hours and your fondest memories. Life is too short for too many regrets. If you want to be a successful writer, grab it with both hands. If it changes your life, let it. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but I can promise it’ll be worth it.
Blessings to you and yours.