This article was originally published on Novel Rocket April 2015 by Christine Lindsay.
You Cannot Write Unless You’ve suffered
Ouch! These days I thank the good Lord for my lousy childhood. But it wasn’t until I became a fiction writer that I could say this. Before that I suffered the same battles with bitterness as the next person, as the grown child of an alcoholic. Not to say that your novel can wallow in self-pity—how boring stories like that are. Same can be said for fictional novels with an agenda. Stories with a heavy line to preach are an easy turnoff to readers. So, it’s true, a lousy childhood is a great place to start as a writer, but unless you’ve reached the stages of healing you have nothing to offer your readers.
What would the shadows in a painting be without the sunshine—only a dark painting.
Good Paintings Have Shadows
Have you ever noticed that the best paintings have shadows? The shadows are a foil for the sunshine. Often when I view a painting it’s the dim corners that intrigue me, because I want to know what’s down that murky trail or around that shadowy alley.
Remember---the Resurrection came after the Crucifixion.
The same with writing. I love to read short pieces on humor, but after a while if the stakes aren’t raised, if danger isn’t imminent, if there’s not a chance the hero or heroine will have their heart broken, I’m bored. Stories that keep me rapidly turning the pages are those filled with the pain of suffering, but with the hint of hope on each page, leading to a climax of joy.
Reach Down Deep into Your Gut to Remember what that Hurt Feels Like
- In a romance we need to know what it feels like to be lonely, dumped, forgotten, a wall-flower.
- In a mystery we need to know what it feels like to be scared, our heart pounding, have secrets kept from us.
- In writing a drama we need to know what it feels like to be abused, poor, sick, neglected, etc., etc.
Tap Into Feelings that are Similar
Now granted we don’t all need to know what it feels like to be attacked, or God-forbid—raped, or live through a war or a kidnapping, but we can tap into feelings that are similar.
I remember the day my middle son disappeared. All the neighbors were out looking for him, people were praying. An hour later, he waltzed home, smiling to beat the band, and clutching a posy of dandelions in his grubby little hand for me. Thank the Lord I do not know what it feels like to have my child kidnapped, but I can tap into those feelings of the “Day of the Dandelions” as it is known in our family for all perpetuity now.
The dark shadows of my fear for my little boy only made the sunshine of our reunion all the brighter.
Tapping Into My Lousy Childhood
Memories of my alcoholic father inspired portions of my multi-award-winning historical series Twilight of the British Raj. But it only works because I reached healing a number of years ago. I have something to offer my readers.
If you have not reached emotional healing--you have nothing to offer your readers.
HEAL FIRST, WRITE AFTERWARD.
My entire series Twilight of the British Raj shows the healing of a family first tainted by a father’s alcoholism. In book 1 Shadowed in Silk, my heroine Abby Fraser stands up to her drunken and abusive husband.
In book 2 Captured by Moonlight my Indian heroine Eshana stands up to her fanatical Hindu uncle who won’t allow her to live as a Christian.
And in the final book 3 Veiled at Midnight my character Cam (who was a boy in book 1) and is now a man, faces his inner demons that he has inherited his father’s addiction to alcohol.
All that trauma and what I call Big Love Stories too.
A dark childhood can be changed into a bright and beautiful life. Mine was. And I promise my readers a happy ending in all my books because I’ve seen happy endings in my own life through my faith.
In triumph I write not about drunkenness, but the tingling feeling of when God makes everything thing new.
Veiled at Midnight is Book 3 the Explosive and Passionate Finale to my multi-award-winning series Twilight of the British Raj.
As the British Empire comes to an end, millions flee to the roads. Caught up in the turbulent wake is Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah.
Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, ever since the days when he played with the orphans at the mission as a boy. But a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he?
As this becomes clear to Dassah, she has no option but to run. Cam may hold her heart—but she cannot let him break it again.
Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soulmate or a distraction from what God has called her to do?
The 1947 Partition has separated the country these three love…but can they find their true homes before it separates them forever?
READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS FREE—click here Chapters one & two of VEILED AT MIDNIGHT
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