Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Write what you know. That’s what you hear as advice when you’re still in that “aspiring writer” stage and haven’t fully moved into the “yeah, I’m really doing this” phase. But what about when you want to write speculative fiction, or even, romance? Most of us don’t live lives that lend themselves perfectly to fiction. And most of the time, I think we’d all agree that’s a good thing!

With my first three books, I did incorporate the idea of writing what I know—at least somewhat. While the romantic plot came fully from my imagination, a lot of the vocations of my characters and their experiences were things that came from real life. (Maybe not my life, but people I knew or had worked with. I thought it was important to keep an emotional distance between me as an author and my characters.) Then I got the idea for my current series.

My husband and I spent a number of years dealing with infertility. During that time, one of the things I wished for were books that had characters who could identify with my problems. At the same time, I wasn’t sure I wanted to take my own struggles—things that even today are hard at times—and put them into a story, even a fictionalized one.

But the story wouldn’t leave me alone. I kept thinking about how much I had wanted a book that not only had real people and real emotions, but some hope and an understanding of the spiritual struggles that I’d experienced. So I started writing. 

There were times that it was a struggle to stick to the fictionalized version of things that I had mapped out. But I knew, despite wanting to “write what I knew,” that I needed a broader range of experiences in the book. I didn’t want to write a memoir or self-help tome—I wanted a relatable novel that would, hopefully, give women going through infertility a sense that someone understood them. And maybe help people who haven’t had those struggles understand a bit of what it’s like for so many.

Faith Departed is, so far, the hardest book I’ve written, and yet one of the most rewarding. The willingness to risk writing what I know – what I’ve lived and hurt through – has changed me for the better as a writer. So maybe that age-old advice to write what you know isn’t just a cliché after all. Maybe my life doesn’t lend itself directly to fiction, but in the future I’m going to be more willing to explore those pieces that do and weave them in.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

Social Media:
Twitter: @elizabethmaddre
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ElizabethMaddrey/posts


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