Inside the soul of a writer

Season of Change and How it Relates to the Theme of my NaNo novel

This fall has been a season of change for me and my family. Things are different now. Both of my children are now in college, and I’m no longer homeschooling. My husband and I are now empty nesters though our younger son still lives at home. I’ve spoken of this before. But, what I haven’t spoken of is how different it feels to be in the season as opposed to anticipating it. It hasn’t been easy to find a place where we fit. We’re not actively parenting, and we’re not grandparents yet. (Hopefully, that won’t happen for a while. 🙂 ) I’m trying to launch a freelance writing career and learning how that works in scheduling my days. And I’m learning who I am again and what it is I have to contribute.

When I was considering the topic for this post, all of this and my novel came to mind. In my first post of this month, I spoke of the theme I was hoping to weave throughout the pages of my novel–acceptance of self and love of family. While this is still my theme, thinking about seasons of change has enriched it. If you write, you are familiar with the term “inciting incident.” Here is the definition if you’re not. “The inciting incident is an episode, plot point, or event that hooks the reader into the story. This particular moment is when an event thrusts the protagonist into the main action of the story.” (from http://www.nownovel.com/blog/incitingincident) It’s what makes the story interesting to readers. Anyway, I’ve already written the inciting incident for my novel, and I was thinking how similar this was to a season of change. My protagonist can’t go back to the way it was before the story began, and I’m not sure she would want to. By the time I’m done writing, I hope to have shown how much she has grown as a person by how much she has changed. I believe that would be a season of change by any definition.

As I’ve thought of how “season of change” has enriched the theme of my novel, I came upon some questions and quotes from one of my writing books. Jennifer Probst had this to say about theme in Write Naked. “Think about what is important to you and what you want readers to remember about your book. What are your characters really fighting for? What do you want to explore?” These are words that bring theme down to its most basic level, and they were some of the many words that made me glad I bought and read Ms. Probst’s book.

I also learned about story theme when I was reading the section about theme. Here is the definition. “The story theme runs on a deeper level, identifying what type of story you like to write. It’s a theme that’s present in your collective works.” (pg. 198, Write Naked, Jennifer Probst) That concept was fascinating to me as well. I’m too new of a writer to know for sure what my story theme is, but I have some ideas. I’ll need to come back to this post at some point and update if I’m right. (After I’ve published a few books, I hope. 🙂 )

In the first paragraph of this post, I wrote of my own season of change. The thing I’ve been most surprised about is that things are actually changing. For some reason, I thought there would be a core of things that would remain the same, but that core has been smaller than I would have thought. I understand the concept of “mid-life crisis” a bit better now and why people go out and do crazy things like buy a sports car. The changes at this time of life have been tumultuous, and it has been hard to breathe. Letting go of the familiar has seemed to be the watchword of people I know who are in this stage of life. The question I need to answer, I think, is whether I need to do the same. Hopefully, writing this book will give me the answers I’m looking for. I hope it does the same for you.

Have a great day, everyone!

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Characters for My NaNo Novel

Last week, I spoke a little of the main protagonist of my novel. I want to speak more this week of how this character and the other characters around her came to be a part of the story I’m writing this month. For a long time, I’ve wanted to write a story about someone who has overcome difficulties from their past, who is now successful, but who still has lessons to learn from the difficulties. I wanted her to have a career and surround her with a loving family and most of all, to have her overcome obstacles.

This character has been growing in my mind for the last couple of years, but I knew I needed a story to go with her. That story has finally come together this year, and it is the story I’m writing now. I’ve heard it said that some authors write characters who are similar to them in personality and who are able to do the things they’re not. I want to say this particular character is that way for me, but I won’t know for sure until I get further into my writing and into the story.

As I thought about this character and this story, I knew there would need to be additional characters. The first ones I thought of were the members of her family–her husband and her children. I made her husband part of her back story so he would be intimately familiar with her trauma.  I also had her husband love her unconditionally though she would have times of doubting that love because of the trauma she had endured–her obstacles to overcome.

Finally, as I was doing my preliminary thinking about my main character, I wanted her to be a woman of faith and have her faith be important to her. But, I also wanted her to defy stereotypes and be a regular person too. She has a career though she is a pastor’s wife. She expresses emotion and doesn’t do everything that is “expected” of her. She says cuss words and goes into places a regular person of faith wouldn’t go. (because of her reporting career) She is her own person and has the full support of her husband to be so.

So, everything about my main character, her family, and the story itself was firmed up in my head before I began writing. But, as I started writing, I knew I would need more characters. Other writers, I’m sure, would have had all their characters fully fleshed out in the planning stages. I have learned over the years though that I am not other writers. I am my own writer which means I have introduced these other characters in my own way. I have enjoyed this process of finding out what I need through writing it. The police detective and the FBI agents who will be important later on. My main character’s editor. Her sources. Her other friends who are also defying stereotypes. They will all make my story the story it needs to be so I’m looking forward to writing their stories too. I might stop my writing at points to write back story and more details in my evolving outline. But, for the most part, I plan to see where my characters take me as I write this first draft during NaNoWrimo.

I hope you have enjoyed my process of thinking about and forming the characters for my novel. Feel free to share your own process in the comments.

Have a great day, everyone!

Plotting my NaNo Novel

With today being the first day of NaNoWriMo (That’s National Novel Writing Month for those of you who aren’t writers.), I thought I would do a quick post on how I plotted the book I am about to begin writing. During the month of November, writers from all over the world furiously write in notebooks or type on computers hoping to complete 50,000 words of a novel by the end of the month. I’ve participated before with success, and I’ve also failed to reach the goal a few times. But, I’ve learned something each time I’ve participated, and my writing has gotten better each time. I decided this was going to be the year I wrote the book that’s been in my head for the last couple of years. I would have more time to do it now that I was no longer homeschooling, and doing my first draft in November would put me in the company of many writers who were doing the same thing.

So, plotting. What is it, and why is it important to those of us who write novels? Here is the definition. A plot is the main events of a play, novel, movie, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence. Essentially, a plot is what happens in the book. Over the last few years, I have read more writing craft books trying to learn about the different literary elements. Some of them have been more challenging than others (What’s the theme of my story going to be?) while the rest have had a sequence to learn which I’m not quite sure I’ve gotten the hang of yet. But, I’ve learned the right and wrong things to do as I’ve planned my story.

The main thing I’ve learned is that the literary elements are interwoven. Ray Bradbury had this to say about plot in Zen in the Art of Writing. “Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.” This imagery intrigued me. Plot is not just what happens in the story. No, the plot in a novel ties the journey of the main characters to what they learn in the process of making the journey. And what they learn is the theme of the story. This brought me to my story’s theme. Acceptance of self and love of family. My theme is not going to be one of those nebulous things that’s hard to figure out. By the end of writing this book, I want it to be clear to anyone who reads it. My story is going to be about my main character learning she is worthy to be loved and knowing she is loved by her family.

As far as plotting goes, I know I have a lot of details to put together. I have a general idea of the story I want to tell, but getting the details right will make it a story worth telling. And if it’s a story worth telling; then, it will be a story worth reading. And if it’s a story worth reading; then, it will be a story worth buying. At least, I hope it will be. 🙂

I’ve also learned the way my story will be unique. When I first started writing, I was discouraged at one point when someone told me that every plot in the world had already been used, and no one could possibly come up with anything new. It made me think I couldn’t write anything truly original that anyone would be interested in reading. I’ve learned better since then mainly because of this quote by author Caroline Lawrence. “Plot is what happens in your story. Every story needs structure, just as every body needs a skeleton. It is how you ‘flesh out and clothe’ your structure that makes each story unique.” So, what I’ve learned in my writing craft books has helped me build the structure of the story I’m going to write, but what I say in the story is going to make it my own which makes me excited to get started.

As I finish this post, I want to wish everyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo well. I hope the words, plot, characters, and theme come easily as you work your way towards 50,000 words.

Have a great day, everyone!

Practicing While Waiting

I’m going to try something a little different on this last Thursday in October since I’m getting indications this needs to be my topic. From the song Take a Chance on Me by Abba playing during my workout to my devotion on waiting for God’s timing, I need to explore how I’m feeling during this time of waiting. I need to know how to step past the impatience I feel when I want something to happen faster than it needs to happen.

I first felt this stirring when I was doing my workout earlier. My workouts have become more consistent since I started to listen to my Spotify playlist. (What did we ever do without Spotify?) Anyway, I was doing my usual workout on the stepper when the song came on. As I listened to the lyrics of this older song, I thought of how the chorus could be reflective of our career choice if publication is our goal. Don’t we want agents and editors to take a chance on us and our writing? To take a chance that our writing and our books will be appealing to the masses? Of course, we do. It’s one way we can feel validated as a writer, and any money we’re paid is an extra bonus. (I like to eat. Don’t you?)

So, I listened to the lyrics and felt the stirrings of impatience. By the way, if you’re wondering about the lyrics or not familiar with the song at all, here they are. It will give you an idea of how I felt when I kept hearing the words “take a chance on me.”

Take a Chance on Me by Abba

If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try
Take a chance on me
(That’s all I ask of you honey)
Take a chance on me
We can go dancing, we can go walking, as long as we’re together
Listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know you better
‘Cause you know I’ve got
So much that I wanna do, when I dream I’m alone with you
It’s magic
You want me to leave it there, afraid of a love affair
But I think you know
That I can’t let go
If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try
Take a chance on me
(Come on, give me a break will you?)
Take a chance on me
Oh you can take your time baby, I’m in no hurry, know I’m gonna get you
You don’t wanna hurt me, baby don’t worry, I ain’t gonna let you
Let me tell you now
My love is strong enough to last when things are rough
It’s magic
You say that I waste my time but I can’t get you off my mind
No I can’t let go
‘Cause I love you so
If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)
Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)
Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa ba-ba
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
There was one part of the chorus that especially stirred my feelings. It’s the part which
says “Come on, give me a break will you?” I wondered why I hadn’t received my break yet. I wondered why it seemed I couldn’t get any respect from the people I know on what I was trying to do with my life. It seemed I was falling into a path of having nothing now that my children were grown. I couldn’t get past the feelings of being a failure and having no one believe in  me.
I got done with my workout and came home. I didn’t know what to do with my feelings. But, then I came to the part where the patience comes in. My devotion on waiting. I read it, and my first thought was, ‘Really, God. You want me to wait some more?’ I was trying to listen though. I do want my writing to be the best it can be when I finally get the chance, and I want to follow God’s will for my life. That’s a given. I read further into the devotion and saw the verse featured. From I Samuel 13:14, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be a commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (emphasis mime) God was telling Saul he had been wrong to offer the sacrifice to Him and not wait for Samuel. Now, Saul would suffer the consequences. Wow, a direct answer to my feelings, or like the younger people would say, “Oh, snap.” He wants me to wait, learn more about writing, and continue to write for His glory.
So, I’m waiting on God’s timing and waiting through all the people who say I should have all the time in the world now to do what they want since I’m a middle-aged woman whose children are grown. No, I don’t. I’m a writer with a call from God to write and create for His glory. And while I’m waiting, I’m practicing. Practicing in public on this blog and my other blog (http://thrivingingrace.com/blog/). Practicing in private in my journals. Submitting and getting rejected (From what I read, I should eventually have enough rejections to paper my walls.). And living, so I can get the experience to write my stories.
May we all practice, submit, and live as we wait for the right time for our writing to be noticed!
Have a great day everyone!

Primal Landscape

I had never heard of this term before hearing it in my writing class last week. I’m not even sure it applies to me as I spent my childhood in several different places. First, though, let’s get the definition out-of-the-way. The term “primal landscape” was first coined by Don Gayton from British Columbia, Canada a few years ago. It means “the landscape a person most identifies with.” The translation of that is essentially where a person was born and raised. The article I read also talked about how this land becomes known, familiar, and comforting. I would also say it could be upsetting and painful if a person’s upbringing was not the best. As might be imagined, this term was first coined as a geographical term, but there are other uses for it as I learned in writing class.

The writing class I’m taking is a class on setting and description which should be  important to anyone interested in the craft of writing. To set a novel someplace is to tell the reader where the action is taking place. A very important thing, I would think, so a primal landscape can be an important place to tell a story. My teacher assigned us the beginning of a story written in our primal landscape or the place where we had spent the most time up to the age of twenty-one. I immediately realized I didn’t have one of those landscapes in my background. My husband does though. He spent all of his growing-up years in one place. He could easily write a story in his primal landscape if he wanted.

But, the assignment was mine. I thought about all of the places I had lived. Virginia, Washington D. C., Florida, South Carolina, Ohio, and California. Then, I went back to South Carolina for college and eventually met my husband. We married and had our children there. The story could have been set in any of those places, or it could have been set where my grandparents lived as that was a place I frequently visited as a child. I picked a place and wrote the story. It was a deeply personal story so I won’t be posting it here. Let’s just say I learned the true meaning of what a primal landscape could do for my writing.

The term wouldn’t let me go though, and it made me wonder where my primal landscape actually was. I remembered what had happened two months ago, and it came to me. South Carolina. I had lived there for six years as a child, and I had returned for college. I settled there when I married, and both of my children were born there. In fact, two months ago, which was where this memory had come from, I traveled back there for the funeral of someone who has been important to me since college. So, I had the chance to travel backward in time.

I drove from the state I lived in to South Carolina on a Friday. I thought about my friend whose husband had died. They had been my adopted parents in college, and the whole family meant and still means a lot to me. When I arrived at the city, I could see there were some things that hadn’t changed. The intersection of interstates which locals call “Malfunction Junction” was the same as it had been when I was a child. The landscape itself seemed to have aged very little since the last time I had been there seven years earlier. There was one new thing I noticed though as I made my way to my girlfriend’s house. I saw a roundabout. Hadn’t seen one of those things since I lived in Michigan. (I’ve moved around a lot in my adult life too.)

Anyway, I made my way to my girlfriend’s house, and we spent time catching up that evening. The next morning she asked me what I wanted to do before the funeral. I asked if we could drive around so I could take pictures. We got in the car and off we went. Our first stop was the church where I had gotten married. It wasn’t even the same church anymore. The building was shared by another church and a school. But, it was still the same place. I had visions of coming out as a new bride and heading out on my honeymoon. There were so many people there celebrating our marriage with us. Family, friends, and co-workers. I took pictures, and we got back in the car. She asked where I wanted to go next. I told her to go to a certain elementary school where I had gone for fourth and fifth grade. We arrived, and the building still looked the same. I had a vision of my younger self taking her bike from the bike rack and crossing the street with a crossing guard. It was the same route I told my girlfriend to take. I wanted to see the house where I had lived from fourth through ninth grades. A few minutes later, I was staring at it. I took pictures and remembered. Remembered running up and down the street. Remembered where I had first learned to love writing. Remembered some of the most formative years of my life. It was a good memory, and looking back, I now know where my primal landscape is. It’s on a little street in South Carolina.

We finished our tour and headed back to my girlfriend’s house so we could get ready for the funeral. I had come back for a sad occasion, but somehow, I had found another piece of who I was. As I face this next phase of my life with an empty nest, it was good for me to find my roots and know the place which had poured the most into me.

Have a great day, everyone!

Imagination

Yesterday, I was listening to my writing teacher as she talked about the three kinds of research writers need to do–functional, to find facts; inspirational, to uncover and discover which opens the desire to write; and imaginative, to think about and plan the story they want to write. She guided us through several exercises of imagining ourselves in different settings. While I’ve always thought of myself as having a good imagination, I appreciated the fullness of the exercise. Being able to flesh out my writing with more details and complexity will make my story a better story, and that’s a good thing.

She did warn us though that it would be hard to stay in one setting for a full three minutes without our minds wandering. She was right. I constantly had to battle thoughts of what I needed to be doing, what was happening later on that day, and what was happening where I was. I found that I couldn’t keep my mind in the particular setting for very long. In fact, I had to try the exercise several times before I manage the particulars of it. I found it illuminating. Imagining myself in a particular setting could add more detail to my writing. I just needed to master the technique.

I listened to the rest of the lectures before arriving at the assignment for this module. My teacher wanted us to set a story in one of three particular areas and write the first pages of it. I looked at the three choices, and though I had personally been in each setting, nothing came to me. I couldn’t think of anything that would be a good beginning for a story so I decided to let it sit overnight. It turned out to be a good thing because when I woke up, it came to me. I could write a fictional memoir of one of the most traumatic times I had ever been in a hospital setting. I could bring awareness to a disease that’s rarely talked about, and it might end up being something I would want to finish. So, hospital setting it is. One more thing before I start my story. I do believe a story can be written without an author having personal experience with a setting. This is where functional research comes in so detail and context can be added to make the setting more layered. Now, without further adieu, here is the story I wrote for writing class.

An Invisible Illness

Kristen took the cup of coffee from her mother-in-law. “Thanks, Linda.” She blew on the top to cool it off and took a sip. ‘Ugh, typical hospital coffee,’ she thought to herself placing it on the table next to her. Linda had tried. She could see where creamer and sugar had been mixed in, but it still tasted awful. She settled back in her seat wishing that the bright, blinking lights could be turned down or off. “So, how long has he been in there?”

Of course, her father-in-law answered. “Fifteen minutes.” He tapped his watch. “It’s been fifteen minutes since you came out here. I’m keeping track.”

The calm that had enveloped her after the surgeon had prayed with her and Daniel threatened to evaporate. She took a deep breath. “Thanks, Bill.” The surgery Daniel was having wasn’t supposed to be complicated. ‘Just temporary,’ he had said, ‘and hopefully, it can be reversed in a few months.’ She took another breath trying to corral her thoughts. A colostomy shouldn’t be that bad, right? And if the medicine worked, they could put everything back together in three months. Then, Daniel would be healthy, and they could get back to living.

Another fifteen minutes passed. Then, thirty. They had been joined by the pastor, deacon, and women’s ministry leader of hers and Daniel’s church and her best friend, Bonnie, who leaned over and whispered to her, “Why do they all look like sourpusses? Aren’t church people supposed to be nice?”

Kristin covered her mouth so no one would hear her giggle. Bonnie could always make her laugh. She was right though. They all looked like sourpusses. She closed her eyes trying to fend off the raging headache that was threatening to come out. Bill’s voice roused her. “The surgery is taking longer than he told us. Shouldn’t the nurse come out here and give us an update?” He glanced around and then back at his watch, his movements competing with the bright, blinking lights.

As if almost on cue, the intercom sounded. “Mrs. Miller, we have an update for you. Mrs. Miller, there’s an update.”

Kristin rose and walked to the desk noticing that Linda had pulled Bill back down to his seat. She knew Linda had told him she was entitled to the information first, and she was grateful. Mother-in-laws didn’t come any better than Linda. She took the phone from the smiling nurse and said, “This is Mrs. Miller.” It seemed like the voice on the other end talked forever. Her eyes and mouth widened in shock. “Thank you for your update, ma’am.”

She handed the phone back to the nurse and walked slowly back to her group. Bill noticed her shocked look first. “What’s wrong, Kristin? Is Daniel ok?”

“They think he will be, Bill.” Kristin took a breath so she could get the info out. “But, he’s going to be in surgery for another seven-eight hours. His colon and rectum both need to come out, and they will be creating a permanent ileostomy. It’s all damaged beyond repair.” She sat in the chair like a balloon had deflated.

It seemed like everyone started talking at once and wanting further information. Finally, the pastor was able to get a word in edgewise. “I’m sorry, Kristin. I hope everything goes well, but,” he motioned to the other two from the church, “we will need to leave. We have other visits to make.”

Kristin schooled her features like she didn’t care. “Of course, Dr. Wilson.” She got up and shook his hand and the others. “Thank you all for coming.” The group left, and all she could think was that she didn’t have to maintain a church face anymore. She sat back down. “Anyone else want to take off?”

Linda shook her head. “Of course not, honey. We’re gonna stay…”

Bill interrupted her holding up his phone. “I just looked up what you said on this new-fangled phone. Daniel might be dying…” He stretched out the last syllable before rapidly speaking every possible thing that could happen.

Linda and Bill started arguing about his hypochondria and about appropriate things to say in the hospital. It was maddening to Kristin though she was familiar with Bill’s quirks. Finally, she had enough. “He almost died, you fucking moron.” Her volume increased with her anger and frustration. “He coded on the table, and they had to restart his heart. Hopefully, it won’t happen again, but right now, I need you to go away!”

Her in-laws and Bonnie stood with their mouths agape having never seen her that angry. Linda grabbed Bill’s arm and drug him away despite his protests. “You didn’t need to say that to her. And she’s right. You are a fucking moron.” She called over her shoulder to Kristin and Bonnie. “We’ll bring lunch back for you girls.”

Once they entered the elevator, Kristin sat back down feeling the tension ebb out of her. Were people always this stupid in hospitals? Bonnie joined her. “Better?”

Kristin shook her head. “I might have killed him if he had stayed.”

“What happened? Did Daniel really code?”

“Yes.” Kristin nodded grimly. “His Crohn’s has progressed further than the doctors thought. His colon and rectum are beyond repair. If they hadn’t opened him up today…” She left the thought unspoken.

“But, they did,” said Bonnie, “and they’re gonna fix it. Daniel’s gonna be there for you and your girls.”

“I hope so.”

“I know so.” Bonnie took her hands in hers. “You’ve taught me so much about Crohn’s Disease. I didn’t even know it existed until I met you and Daniel.”

“Yeah, it’s an invisible illness, all right. No one knows a lot about it unless they know someone with it or have it themselves.” She felt someone tap her shoulder and turned to see an older woman. “Can I help you, ma’am?”

The woman had short brown hair and welcoming brown eyes. “Hi, my name’s Stacy. My husband’s having a brain tumor taken out. She shook their hands. “I couldn’t help but overhear. Your husband has Crohn’s Disease?” At Kristin’s nod, she continued, “I try to learn something new every time we come to the hospital. Keeps my mind off of… Anyway, tell me about it. What’s Crohn’s Disease?

Kristin’s eyes teared up as she motioned for Stacy to join them. No one had ever been interested before. As she launched into her explanation, she smiled at Bonnie and her new friend. Maybe things would be okay after all.

Seven Years – The Good and the Bad

A lot has changed in the last seven years. My children are grown now. One will be done with college in May, and the other has just started college. They have navigated the beginnings of adulthood well, and I couldn’t be more proud. But, there should be something else now, someone else now. There should be a child running after his or her big brothers. She should be in the first grade starting this journey of an education and learning about life. There’s not though. It wasn’t meant to be.

One year after my miscarriage, I was able to write about my loss here. (https://writewhatyouknowdotorg.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/reflections-on-the-beginning-of-fall/) I was able to reflect on my loss and talk about all the good that had happened in my life since it had happened. I was able to say I was okay and thought I was moving on.

The grieving process though has been different every year. There have been years I have been overwhelmed with sadness on this day, and there have been years I’ve been reminded of how close Jesus was to me on that day though I hadn’t come back to faith yet. There have also been years when I’ve felt a combination of both sets of feelings. Sadness and peace. I haven’t quite been able to explain it, but I’m pretty sure it’s related to what has changed in my heart–the presence of God in my heart and my life.

I said in the first paragraph a lot had changed in the last seven years. There have been deaths, and there have been births. I’ve become friends with a precious little girl who has the same name my daughter would have had. There have been job changes and hospital stays. I’ve learned and grown from essentially living life, and it’s been good for me.

However, over the last several months, I’ve become convinced I needed to keep my bad feelings stuffed inside, and if I even thought of expressing them, bad things would happen. I’ve thought I had to do this because reflecting my bad feelings would mean I wasn’t reflecting the joy of the faith I’ve come to profess. Essentially, I wasn’t being real.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about, praying about, and trying to get a handle on. How do Christians have real joy and peace while considering such emotions as sadness, anger, and depression? Do we pretend when we’re not at home? Do we put up shields? I would think since God gave us all these emotions, we should use all of them, or we would just be robots, right?

Through my prayers and talks with God, I was reassured that it was okay to be real in my life. God is there when I shake with sadness, and He’s there when I jump with joy. He wants us to be real and to care only about what He thinks not about what others think. And if I needed more proof, I could go back to the first post I ever published on this blog in 2012. I leave it here for you and me to consider as we think about how to integrate all of the parts of our lives–the sadness and the happiness–into our writing.

Until next time, be real!

Inside a Writer’s Soul

Words….words on a page with no feelings or emotions behind them.  Is that what catches your eye when you read something? Or is it the words that have feeling and emotions that catch your eye? I have been writing stories for the last two and a half years and have been told that the best way to reach a person through words is to write what you know.  This is my plan for this blog. Why are we afraid to tell people what we really feel? To let them see inside our hearts? I think it’s because we’re afraid–afraid of rejection, afraid that what we’re writing isn’t popular, afraid of being real. For my first post for this blog, I want to share an experience that was very real to me and one that still resonates deep within my soul.

Almost eight months ago, my family and I had lived in our new town for just about a month. Unemployment had been our watchword for almost a year, but we were now beginning to get back on our feet with my husband’s new job. What I had not told anyone though was the extreme pain I had been in. We had held off on getting health insurance because of the expense, and I was hoping against hope that what I was experiencing was just normal monthly woman’s pain. It was not to be. By the middle of the day, I was bleeding heavily and barely able to get out of the bed because of the pain. My husband was worried and looked up my symptoms on the Internet, and we determined that it was highly probable I was having a miscarriage. It was on the side though of being something a doctor couldn’t do anything about, and we decided it would be better for me to just stay at home and wait things out. Thirty minutes later, I had a strong urge to push and barely made it to the bathroom before something came out. It was very, very small, but was still recognizable as a baby. A baby….I had lost a baby. Tears began pouring down my face.  I managed to get to the bed, and at that point, began my physical recovery.

The mental recovery though is something I would not wish on anyone.  My husband and children were amazing. I can’t tell you the number of laundry loads and meals that were taken care of without my having to worry about it over the next few weeks. The people we had met were pretty good too. I was especially grateful for the home school mom who took my kids for the afternoon a few days later so I could rest, for the manager who let my husband work from home the afternoon I had the miscarriage and for my four special girlfriends who I have a Facebook group with. But, the one thing that was hard was feeling like I couldn’t talk about it—feeling like I couldn’t talk about my pain and anguish— that people just expected me to move on.  There are health issues that are talked about; dare I say that are ‘fashionable’ to talk about.  I’m thinking of such things as breast cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. When a woman says she has lost a baby though, people don’t know what to say or they say something that wounds her further.  Why? Why is this loss not talked about? Wait, I can’t say it’s not talked about. There are people who are doing wonderful work with miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss support–on the Internet and in real life. It’s hard though, not being able to talk about a loss especially a loss that was early like mine was because people don’t consider it to be real. But it was real to me.

It might be a mistake to be real, but I won’t know unless I try. I’m reminded of a quote I saw on Facebook on a photo. “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t correct those mistakes, you’re doing it really wrong. If you can’t accept that you’re mistaken, you’re not doing it at all.”  (credited to I fucking love science’s photo that was posted on May 26, 2012)

Until next time, be real!