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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fiction Mirror

Fiction mirrors real life.

I learned that hard truth while writing three suspense novels that delved into deep subjects, themes that poured out of my own struggles and triumphs, my own questions and wrestling with God. A lot of me and many people I know filled those pages.

You can't hide writing a novel. And you shouldn't. Because when fiction reflects real life, real people read and not only enjoy a great story that touches them on a deep level, but they also find hope and a mirror into their own soul.

Fiction reading and writing have forced me to face big issues in my heart. That's one of the reasons I'm a lifetime fiction reader and talk passionately about how fiction is a place where wounded people can find hope, healing, and encouragement.

But I've never found that to be true with fiction how-to books or DVDs.

Until last night.

My fantastic local writing group, WORD, met last night and watched part 2 of an amazing DVD ~ The Hero’s Journey.

In it, one of the presenters, Michael Hauge, taught about the hero's inner journey. I scribbled notes furiously and hoped at some point I'd understand concepts that weren't new but weren't quite fitting into my brain very well either.

When I got home, I brainstormed with my husband about my current characters' inner journeys until his eyes glassed over. I still didn't understand, and that bugged me. A lot.

So this morning as I was praying, I started thinking about the concept of identity and essence and how all of the other terms Mr. Hauge used to describe the inner journey fit together.

It hit me that I could plug myself into the concepts and maybe understand them better.

God is so sneaky in getting me to do this. He knew I couldn't pass up the chance to understand the benign subject of writing deeper. Little did I know, I'd be totally exposed in working through a technique just like I am in the actual writing.

As I've done in my books, author letters, and on this blog, I'm going to put my real life examples out there.

Mr. Hauge talked about the concept of longing, a wound, fear, identity, and essence. I'll explain them using me.

A longing~ I long to be a kind, gentle, emotional person.

What's funny to me about that longing is in many arenas I am that person, especially in my writing and with other writers. But it's taken me a long time to get healthy enough to honestly be who I am around other people, especially my family.

A wound~ Growing up I was made fun of for any emotional display, sometimes physically punished. These were not temper tantrum displays, but everyday ones like sadness, excitement, fear, ect. So I learned never to cry in front of anyone. Anger was the only acceptable emotion.

Fear~ Emotion equaled weakness in my family of origin, so my fear as I grew up was that if I showed emotion, besides anger, I'd be rejected and unwanted again.

Here is where I'd attach my understanding of "the lie," a truth and technique I learned from counseling to apply to my own life, to my fiction, and to teach to other writers. My lie that I've lived out of a majority of the time is I'm unwanted.

Identity~ I’ve defined myself as a strong woman and used anger like a sword. This was my protection against rejection in any situation where I might have to risk exposing my wound. Anger happens anytime my lie is pushed on or in some way shown to be true. As in anytime I've felt put down, disrespected, or not liked.

Essence~ This is something that took me a while to understand through Mr. Hauge's teaching. This is basically who the character, or real person, is when all their definitions of who they are get taken away. Instead of defining myself by my family, my work, my abilities, or my characteristics like strong and angry, essence is who I really am.

As a believer, who I am is God's child. A child He made to be very emotional, passionate, and (when I'm listening to Him and believing Him) a kind, gentle, caring person.

The journey of life and of a fiction novel is for the character to be stripped of identity and have their essence revealed and accepted as they live in a new reality being who they really are.

Writers, unlike our characters, are still in process. The last page of our story~ my story~ has yet to be written.

But this insight matters. It forced me to look in Jesus' face and bow before Him, confessing my lie, my self-protections, and my fears. And taking from Him the freedom to be who He created me to be.

I'm sure God has plenty more ways to teach me truths like this. And I’m sure I’ll need them.

But for today, I'm grateful a how-to book/ DVD on writing taught me truth about myself.

Now I must go make my fictional characters suffer as I have so they can rejoice like I am today. ;-)

Fiction is a beautiful mirror. So is anything that helps us look deeply inside and see what God would have us see.

How has a fictional novel or even a fiction how-to book mirrored you and revealed something that helped you grow?


Brenda Anderson said...

It's so true that fiction leaves you feeling exposed. In reading or writing it. I know when I share what I've written, it's a very scary thing because I know the readers are getting a glimpse of who I am.

I love books like yours that dare to show the inner workings, the inner struggles of the characters. That's what breathes life into your stories, and I thank you for sharing that part of you.

Sheila Deeth said...

My granddad would often say "There but for the grace of God go I." I love books that convey that truth to me, but I was surprised when writing my first novel to find the grace of God given to me by my main character.

Amy Wallace said...

Thank you, Brenda!

I don't like feeling exposed, but I love that something I've written connects with those who read. And if it's that willingness to open myself up and bleed on the page, I'll keep doing it.

Sheila~ It's an awesome thing when God touches the writer through the characters we've written.

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