10/24/2006

Words Heal

Well, hello! It's my turn again to dazzle the world (or at least the readers of the blog!) with sharp and gripping comments on the Lost Genre. To be honest, I don't feel up to it - don't feel like I have anything to add to the wonderful things that have been said here in the few weeks since we began. We have defined the Lost Genre from top to toe in many different ways and all of it adds to the picture. But I can't come up with any more today. So I'm going to settle for a dose of gut-wrenching honesty and hope it brings a personal connection to the theme. Excuse me if I go on a bit. There are a lot of words inside me today. I'm just treating you as family...

You see, I'm passionate about the Lost Genre. On average I read three new novels every week if I can get them. It's necessary for my job, both as a translator, which pays the bills, and as a writer, which might do the same one day. Before I realised this, I used to feel guilty for reading so much. Now the only reason to feel guilty is if I read all night and end up being late (or sleepy) at the office.

One of the reasons I'm passionate is that the Lost Genre provides a way to escape my mundane and sometimes downright awful existence. A way to find healing in the beholding of some far-off planet in my mind's eye, or in the courage of a noble king or a brave peasant child, a way to believe again in true goodness, true hope, true fulfillment, and this in the face of some enormous hardships. This is true of reading, but also of writing.

What happens if I write some of my own problems into the character's life? Usually I just want to see what they do, and sometimes they surprise me. Sometimes I end up writing rather more of my own life into the fiction than I expected. But you know what? I'm happy with that. Maybe there are episodes from real life, but if they take place on another world or in some distant future scenario, then there are other possibilities to explore in order to solve them. For example, in my current novel I'm exploring what might have happened if I had never moved to Germany. If I said no to what I believed was God's voice. I switch realities, so to say, and take a peek at the other side.

And: there's always a happy ending. Put it another way: God always comes through for the people in my stories. No matter what kind of hell I've put them through beforehand, and what trials their faith went through, good wins over evil. Because that's the way it's going to be at the end of time, thank goodness! And as I watch the faith of my characters waver and recover, or stay strong through all sorts of difficulties, and see them come out victorious in the end, somehow it builds my own faith too. If I can untangle the problems in the book, maybe I can deal with real life too.

You see, I've been through hell myself this year. But it drove me to write. You can follow the progress on my personal blog if you want. But that's another matter. The important thing here is that I now begin to see that there is a purpose in the suffering - all things working together for good. If I have suffered, then I can describe it, change it around, pull it and stretch it to match the character in my book, and more: I can appreciate the relief, the joy, the beauty found later on, with a depth that would have otherwise been impossible.

Am I making sense here, folks? I have a feeling that the more I know of the whole broad spectrum of human emotion and experience, the more I can bring it to life in my words. I seek to hold it in the story I weave, to enter it, to experience it in all its wildness and intensity, and then to resolve it. Look around. Times are harder than they've ever been on this old world. But if - IF there were other worlds, things just might be even harder there. Yet the imagined people I get so close to in reading and writing the Lost Genre, well, they make it. Some of them, at least. Yes, there are losses. But the good guys win. They get stronger after their troubles. They find peace after battling through whatever it was.

So that's part of the reason I write the Lost Genre. I seek my healing by setting my suffering in grand and extreme scenarios. And who knows? Maybe it might just work...

9 comments:

driftwood said...

I have a feeling that the more I know of the whole broad spectrum of human emotion and experience, the more I can bring it to life in my words.

Very true, because you cannot give what you don't have.

vbtenery said...

Hey Grace:

I really enjoyed reading this. You expressed no only why you write speculative fiction, but also why many of us do.

Blessings,

Andrea Graham said...

Grace, I appreciate much of what you've said, I tend to start with character and setting and let plot flow out of them, and I definitely infuse my own emotions into my writing. I handle situations that I haven't dealt with by calling up similar emotions from a perpendicular pain. It's often easier that way than using the actual situations you've been through. And I'll admit I've also played with what if's like yours, in my case, "What if I had followed through on deleting the email that introduced me to my husband and eventually led me to move two time zones away?"

But I must take issue with, "Times are harder than they've ever been on this old world." Are we worse off, spiritually speaking, than we were fifty years ago, or a hundred years ago? That I'd agree with. But, that's just a drop in the bucket as far as history's concerned.

In truth, before Christ, this world reeked more than any of us can imagine. Over the last 2000 years, Christianity has taken on about every moral issue we're facing today before and won. The only reason we're sliding back into anything approaching the Hell this world used to be before Christ came, is because His Body has, by and large, fallen into two equally bad deceptions: some have drunk the cup of the world, rolled over, and fallen into a drunken stupper. Others are sitting on their rumps, wide awake, but handing the world over to the devil thinking this will somehow bring Jesus back faster.

If the Body of Christ would rise up and stand together, we could change the course of History.

Again, great post!

Frank Creed said...

Tragedy, as in Othello, is not a popular form. It would be easy to create tragic story arcs, but readers don't want to be depressed. Happy endings are in demand--to the extent that they've become cliche. You know the good guy will win. What if we worked tragedy into the early plot and believer's faith did not win, but overcame?
True-Story-Example: a child in our church developed a tumor. The whole church came together and prayed hard. The child died. Many left the church.
But what lessons were learned by the survivors of this tragedy? How did it change their lives?
Now set this drama in a Moon colony, or in the village of Wellhordt.
Suffering working for good is the making of a great story. Grace, what you've experienced over the last year is the makings of a writer's tortured soul. You could become a blues-singer as well. 8D
Faith,
f

Donna Sundblad said...

Grace,

That makes sense to me. I believe who we are and what we experience seeps into characters and plots. Some people journal for healing--in fact I teach an online class on using journaling to write fiction. :)

Donna

Andrea Graham said...

I like your thinking, Frank. My novel, Heaven's Mark, opens with several tragedies, all within one family pretty much, and goes on to take up the challenge of one patriarch's prayer, that includes something along the lines of, "God, your word says all things work together for good, but I don't see how any good could come out of this."

He prays in earnest for decades, only to die before they're answered.

driftwood said...

True-Story-Example: a child in our church developed a tumor. The whole church came together and prayed hard. The child died. Many left the church.

In this example, the sad part of the story for me would be the people leaving the church. But the girl dying after she was prayed for was to be a joyous celebration. Sure, it was sad for the people left behind by the girl. But for the girl herself, Jesus ended her pain and now, she's in heaven, healthy... forever.

"God, your word says all things work together for good, but I don't see how any good could come out of this."

He prays in earnest for decades, only to die before they're answered.


His word also says, "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

Abraham didn't see the fulfillment of the promise that his offspring would be like that of the sand in numbers. But God didn't take back His word.

I'd like to think that the prayers we uttered in faith and in line with His will, even if we did die without seeing the answer, will echo down the generations.

Andrea Graham said...

Carizz, you're right on target. The gentleman in question is actually already dead before the main action of the book gets started, he only appears briefly in the prologue (his sister's diary, actually.) The main conflict of Heaven's Mark results in those decades of prayer coming to fruition even though the man with the worn-out knees on his suit has already gone home to glory.

We're so short sighted, really. Jesus always keeps his promises, even if we don't see it on this earth. Kael went to his grave believing God would answer his prayers for his nephew, despite naysayers telling him it was impossible and he was wasting his time, and God did indeed answer. "Unless a seed falleth to the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bareth much fruit." Kael had to literally die, in his case.

Andrea Graham said...

Grace, in regards to, "I seek my healing by setting my suffering in grand and extreme scenarios. And who knows? Maybe it might just work..."

I do the exact same thing, and I often transfer my pain into different senarios (ie, an alcoholic father becomes child abandonment and sexual abuse.) Alone, I don't know if it'd make a difference, but when it's a prayer as only a writer can pray, I know that it makes all the difference in the world. I poured my painful questions into my fiction, and the Lord met me there, and He is healing me. He'll heal you, too, Grace.

If you're baffled at the emotional transfer I mentioned, you'd have to have an alcoholic parent to understand, I suspect. I don't know why a parent's imbibing has the effect it does, I just know my own experience.