Every author is inevitably asked the following question: why did you write this story? Looking back, my eyes were recently opened to a truth I’d never admitted.
Before I was published, before I’d written Finding Emma, there was something missing from the stories I’d written. All were romances. All were about a man and women finding love with one another. Each character had flaws, but universally, they were semi-perfect.
I remember sitting on my couch, my girlfriend across from me and the following words came off my tongue.
“I need to write about something more. Something deeper, darker and more real than I’ve allowed myself to go before.”
Even now, when I stare at a fresh page, when the character is so new I have no idea who they are or what battles they fight, I know I need to go further than I have before.
Every character I write has a little part of me in them. That is a bit scary, if I’m being honest. Not every character I write is good, sensible, warm hearted and kind.
I have a habit of telling people that I write stories that have something to do with a hidden fear in my own heart.
That’s still true. But it’s not the whole truth.
The stories I write, the characters that come alive on the page, all seem to come with some sort of brokenness that is rooted within my own soul.
Even admitting that scares me.
Why? I wish I knew.
Scratch that. I do know. I realized this truth the other day and it’s weighed on me quite a bit.
I’m not perfect. I wish I were. I wish my heart was made of pure gold, sensitive and clear of all ugliness. I wish there were no issues that I still struggled with, that I’m not carrying un-forgiveness, that I haven’t failed as a mother, as a wife, as a friend or daughter. I wish I’d grown beyond the mistakes I’ve made but we all know that saying, right? If wishes were pennies, I’d be a millionaire.
I’m human, with freewill to make mistakes, to rebel against God, to have pity parties and temper tantrums and crying spells. Which means, I’m going to create characters that do the same.
I can look back on each major character I have written about and see a part of me in them.
- The one mad at God.
- The one suffering in secret from post-partum depression.
- The one unsure she could forgive another.
- The one living with secrets and had been sexually abused both as a child and as a teenager.
Another truth? Every single story I write deals with mental health.
Looking back, I see a pattern. The one thing I’m struggling with the most is different aspects of mental health. It comes out in my stories, in my characters and and through the course of writing, revising and releasing, I work through a portion of the issue I’m dealing with.
This is a long post…and I’m currently lying in bed nursing a migraine, so I’ll end this here. But, I have an idea and I’d like to share it with you.
This is the year I feel I’m no longer ‘reacting’ to issues thrown at me. This is the year I’m rising above and taking control. Through that control, I’d like to write one post a month about lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn when it comes to mental health and being real. It’s about being honest about a subject that affects us all, one way or another.
Is that okay?