Turning Scars Into Stars
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says the word vulnerable means that one is “open to attack, harm, or damage; easily hurt or harmed physically, emotionally, or mentally”. But vulnerability also means that one is open and sensitive and transparent. Since I’ve already been through the “hurt” part, my heart’s cry is to let my characters be open and transparent enough help others through their hurts simply by being vulnerable and sharing a story of loss, pain, scars…and stars!
In my first two non-fiction books, Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage, and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness (Tyndale Publishers), my husband and I were quite transparent about the mistakes we made in our first marriages and the hard lessons we learned through the pain, hurt, and scars.
In my Irish Quilt Legacy, I was repeatedly challenged to be vulnerable, for the story is loosely based on my life and my family heritage. As I plotted out my dual story line, I toyed with the idea of deleting half the story line and running for the hills every time I included a bit of my story. I knew I’d have to relive some of the scars of my past, revisit some of the pain, and rehearse some of the most emotionally traumatic moments of my life. And I didn’t want to go there.
But I put it down on paper and then I spent hours, days, weeks, and months facing some of the scars that I prayed would turn into stars…stars that could light the way toward healing for some of the readers who have faced similar pain and scars.
In the process, I fell in love with my characters and chose my words carefully. I wept with those in my story who wept, and I laughed when they did. I held my breath when I didn’t see the answer to a problem, and I rejoiced when God showed up and overcame obstacles that seemed insurmountable.
In a small way, I lived it all over again. I revised it, edited it, prayed over it, and sent it to my agent. And I’m waiting (patiently?) for a publishing contract. But even in the waiting, I feel a little bit vulnerable.
Friends and family will see a part of my life that I’ve conveniently put in a box on the highest shelf, way back in the farthest corner of my closet. Readers, known and unknown, will see glimpses of my character’s messed up life and broken heart and wonder just how much of that is me. Have I been too open, too exposed, too vulnerable? Though that’s the price of vulnerability, I pray it pays off by connecting with and bringing hope to my readers.
How vulnerable are you as a writer, a friend, a person? I’d love to know!
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