Much of writing is done in isolation. Inside her own head, the author embarks on a journey and pours out the fears and struggles and hopes and dreams of people who live only inside her mind.
Yet those fears and struggles and hopes and dreams often are seated in the real world. An event or situation presents itself. It might be one in which the author is involved. Or one someone she knows is experiencing. It might be one she hears about or even one she glimpses in a stranger’s life and simply observes from a distance. And observations aren’t necessarily “in person.” A snippet retold, one in a news clip, or something written in a blog post or even in a tweet can snag a writer’s interest and spark a journey.
Snagging interest and sparking the enthusiasm and desire to make a journey are strong motivators that fuel the urge to write. For me, that urge is fed by purpose. It’s the gas and match to my fire. So much so that I can’t even recall the last time I did any writing without a specific purpose in mind.
Often we work over our projects, nurture them and put them out and we don’t know whether or not they’re fulfilling that purpose. But there are times when we’re blessed. When we get to see or hear the project we wrote has realized the goal we’ve set for it. Most often, we hope it has, we even pray it has, but we don’t get to see it so we can’t be sure. That’s where our author’s leaps of faith come in hard and heavy. And, boy, are there a lot of leaps of faith in being an author.
But every now and then, through our readers, we get to see our purpose reflected to us in their eyes and through their words. And when that happens, it’s one of the most awesome and humbling experiences an author ever has the privilege to experience. It’s affirmation of our purpose. Confirmation that someone “got it.” And pure and sweet, that inspires us to keep writing, and to keep writing with purpose. If a work makes a difference to one reader, then for an author driven by purpose, that’s enough. That’s success.
Recently I told you about BEFORE THE WHITE ROSE. A little short story I wrote a couple years ago but never published because it didn’t fit with my healing books “author theme.” Well, that’s what I thought at the time. I was wrong.
I didn’t recognize it—I wish I could say I did—but in the first three reviews that came in, it became clear that readers saw that healing theme in the story.
And that’s the purpose of this post. I wrote Before the White Rose because I felt compelled to write it. I didn’t write it expecting it to sell. Or to create earnings. Or for anyone else to even see. I didn’t agonize over it or even think much about the “why write it” side of things. I just loved it so I wrote it.
But plans beyond mine were at work, and I believe the reason for that was it was written for the love of it.
When you write for the love of it and tell a story for the love of it, something happens that’s hard to explain. Maybe it’s that you write from a more honest place. From a less guarded or shielded place. Or maybe all those subtle and intangible feelings you have about your subject or the characters rise from a deeper place within and you give them free reign to spill heedlessly into the story. I’m not sure exactly what happens, but something does. Something mystical. Something bigger than the writer. Bigger than the story.
I’m thinking that may be in part due to the reader. Because no reader comes to a story without bringing all of themselves to it: loves and hates, struggles and joys, attitudes and ideas and thoughts and dreams. And maybe when those stories borne in your deepest places connect with those deepest places in the reader that’s when the mystical aspect of what happens actually happens.
The story was about hope. About no matter how bad things are, how hard things are, if you just hang on, they will get better.
But what the readers told me in their reviews was that it was also a nudge. A reminder to them to look in their own lives for that person who needs a bit of attention and to give it to them. A stranger’s smile can change an attitude. A phone call can change a mind or a life. Healing. Within and without. Because you can’t do anything that helps someone else and not be better for it yourself.
I remember as a kid when I’d get down about something, my mother would say look around and do something nice for someone else. It always worked. Seeing others happy made me happy. Seeing them struggle a little less made me feel good.
So this isn’t a major revelation in life. I just didn’t expect in this story. That readers see this . . . well, frankly, I’m humbled by it. And yet when I think about it, I know that I have read stories and books that have impacted me in profound ways. Some have stayed with me from that moment on. Some seemed to come to me at exactly the right time—when I needed what they had to say most.
I think, as authors, we can lose sight of the nebulous, untracked by industry standards potential of stories. We can forget that when we write from our most honest place, and readers read from their most honest place, the sum we both get is bigger than the whole of the two parts.
I’m grateful to the reviewers who reminded me of this. It’s important. Worth remembering. And it’s worth keeping in mind when we sit down to write.
VickiVICKI HINZE Where the Broken Heal…
P.S. You’ll note that we’re on the new website and in the new blog. Everything is posted in “Blog.” If you want to read just writing posts, click ON WRITING. Just chatty stuff, click MY KITCHEN TABLE. Just a quick thought, “THINKING ALOUD.” Your widgets should be working, RSS feeds should be intact and if you’re connecting through Networked Blogs, you should suffer no interruptions. But if you do, please let me know.
P.S.S. While I love the new site and it’s totally gorgeous (thank you, Caethes), my blogs are still my blogs, bless their hearts. That means they continue to carry this…
WARNING: This is a no-edit zone.
And also my gratitude to you for reading.
Have a wonderful weekend!
© 2011, Vicki Hinze