Digging Deep to Connect With Readers
I’m kind of a fearful person. I am scared of heights, public speaking, and tornados, but I am TERRIFIED of snakes. The bad news—I live in Texas. The good news—after living here for eight years, I haven’t seen a live one, thank you Jesus! Living here has taught me to trust the Lord with my fears.
Overcoming my fears in writing has also been a challenge. Dipping my toes in the waters of contests and queries helped me to toughen my skin when it came to putting my work out there. Receiving positive and negative comments from judges helped with fear of what people might think of my work. But the fear I least expected to have to wrestle with was fear of revealing myself.
When I set out to write the story of an Egyptian slave girl who travels with the Hebrews on the Exodus, I didn’t realize that writing about her struggle with false gods would spur me to examine idols in my own heart. And when I wrote of her bondage to things that kept her from embracing Yahweh’s grace, I found myself searching out areas in my life where I haven’t allowed God to reign completely. Her journey from slavery to freedom echoed my own paths through life, even though the character herself is in many ways different from me.
Being honest with ourselves, delving into emotions that may be painful, or bring up reminders of anger or bitterness in our past can really help us to connect with our readers. Writing fiction has been cathartic for me in many ways, allowing me to examine who I am, what things have shaped the person I have become, what issues God is working on within me and where he is leading me.
The novel I am working on now is a continuation of the Exodus journey from the point of view of a Hebrew midwife who is barren. She has a calling from God that forces her to face her grief and jealousy on a daily basis. I spent my first seven years of marriage grieving childlessness, envious when friends got pregnant, and begging and pleading—sometimes screaming—for relief from the pain. And although God did answer almost ten years ago, and we have since adopted two precious children, the memories of those bitter days linger in my heart. Writing the story of a barren woman dredges up stuff that I buried long ago. I believe that my writing is better for it and that God will use it for his glory as readers connect to those emotions.
My writing is becoming more fearless. I am digging deeper into my characters, allowing myself to bleed more on to the page, and tackling subjects that scared me a bit before or touched a little too close to home.
So here is my challenge to you: Write something that scares you a little, dig deep into those raw emotions, and see where it takes you.