Tuesday, January 20, 2015
I’m sure my friend, Beth, didn’t know her question would end up in a blog when she sent me an email last week! She also didn’t know that the emergency room doctor had found a blood clot in my mother-in-law’s lung so I had been dividing my time between the computer and the hospital. She didn’t know that my emotional seams were beginning to unravel a bit.
What a nice, “writerly” way of saying I was about to lose it!
When I sit down at the computer every morning, I bring with me all the things, big and small and in-between, that are on my mind and in my heart. Prayer requests from friends and family. The items on my to-do list.
It was Beth’s question that helped me reset my perspective. Because life happens and we write about. . .well. . .life, right?
And when life gets difficult. . .so can writing.
One piece of advice writers hear over and over is, “write what you know.” It makes sense, doesn’t it? When I write what I know, it gives me credibility. I can create a town like Banister Falls in The Dandelion Field because I’m a small-town, Midwestern girl. When I describe the changing seasons or a sunrise over a northern Wisconsin lake or an eagle in flight, the reader can see it because I’ve seen it.
Those kind of details make for a good story, but I think a great story is the one where I’m not afraid to wade into the deep emotional waters with my characters instead of standing on the shoreline, taking notes. The books on my keeper shelf have one thing in common—they didn’t just entertain me for a few hours, they burrowed right into my heart because I felt a strong connection with the characters. It might be because we share a common experience or dream the same dream. Struggle with the same things.
And that’s where the “life” part comes in!
When life—and writing—get difficult, I take this a step further. “Write what I know” becomes, “Write what I know about God.”
So. . .what do I know about God?
I know He is faithful. I know He is kind. I know He gives beauty for ashes. I know He heals. Restores. Blesses.
I know these things because I’ve experienced them over the years. I experience them every time I remember to look at Him instead of my circumstances.
In The Dandelion Field, Ginevieve Lightly is a single mom who finds out her teenage daughter is pregnant. She doesn’t know God, doesn’t know His character. . .but she meets someone who does and it changes her. Gin discovers that God can take the pieces of a broken past and turn it into a beautiful beginning.
He did that for me, too.
What I know about God becomes the spiritual thread that runs through the pages. And the really amazing thing? While I’m writing my character’s story—stories of grace and courage and restoration and hope—He is weaving those things into my story, too.
No, we never write in a vacuum.
Thank you, God.
USA Today bestselling author Kathryn Springer grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child she spent hours at her mother’s typewriter, plunking out stories about horses that her older brother “published” (he had the stapler) for a nominal fee. Kathryn loves writing about imperfect people, small towns and a great big God. When she isn’t at the computer, you’ll find her curled up (in the sun!) with a good book, spending time with her family and friends or walking the trails near her country home.
Please visit my website at kathrynspringer.com and sign up to receive my free newsletter, or find me on Facebook at kathrynspringerauthor!