Welcome back to my blog. This month on the Insecure Writer's Support Group I want to talk about exposure. Writing can be a very personal experience for any author and yet the most terrifying as well. It challenges the writer to expose parts of themselves that they normally wouldn't allow anyone to know about. The scariest part of that is the fact that once you expose these characteristic to the world you may be judged just for writing what you did.
After I wrote Calico many of my Christian friends said I wasn't a true Christian because my main character denounced Jesus Christ. They didn't understand that Calico had done so because she followed the Shawnee ways. I was also criticized for the violence in the book.
When I started writing Calico I had no idea as to the healing effects it would have on my
inner self. Calico has to deal with
abandonment issues, abuse and rape. I could understand Calico because those
were the same issues that I had to deal with. The realism of her journey was
strengthened because I allowed myself to pour my emotions into her personal
struggles. I knew her thoughts because they had been the same ones that I had
once had. When I finished writing Calico I found there was a new strength
inside me. I was renewed and encouraged.
Calico has been out for a few years and has gone through three different publishing house, each time the story has grown stronger. It currently sits at #665,048 Paid in Kindle Store (Oct 6, 2013 at 9:31am). It has been a bestselling book each time it has been released. Calico is a hard read for anyone who has been raped or abused. It's also written from the Shawnee perspective and not the white man's so anyone who picks it up and expects your traditional Native American tale has a hard time with it. And that is ok. It just means it wasn't written for them. Calico has 17 five star reviews, 9 four stars, 3 three stars and 4 one stars on Amazon. Those are great stats on any book.
My latest book, Elsa, was another creative journey that lead to inner healing for me. My husband and I have always known I was a little bit off in this world. I have struggled for most of my life with social interactions. My mother use to call me her absent minded professor because I was so intelligent but struggled with most simple of things. For years I went on with my life feeling like a woman who was looking into the world from the outside instead of participating in my life. I knew something was up but I just couldn’t place my finger on the cause. A few years ago I learned from my uncle that Aspergers Syndrome is prevalent in my family. It explained a lot of why I feel the way I do and why I do what I do.
Elsa’s tale is based on true events and people in my family’s history yet the story did not truly come alive until I decided Franklin should have Aspergers Syndrome. I poured my own experiences into Franklin’s life. I can understand his thinking process because it is my own. Just as it was hard for me to write some of the scenes in Calico because I had to push through those emotions it was hard to write some of Franklin’s scenes for the same reason. But I pressed on. I’m glad I did because what came of this book was unlike anything I had ever written before. This book is more personal to me because it is my story.
So don’t be afraid to expose your emotions on the page when it comes to your characters and your story. If you are brave enough to do so it will enrich your book and the characters. Readers love a realistic story. They want to be immersed in the world not just told about it. Let your readers see your pains and your struggles. Allow your characters to push through those struggles. In the end you might just find you were changed along with them.