I’m happy to feature a dear writing friend Janet Bly and her latest book.PLEASE BE SURE TO LEAVE A COMMENT as Janet is giving away one paperback copy (US ONLY) to one commenter. Here’s the scoop!
I Learned From My Fiction Characters
Janet Chester Bly
We’re all on a journey. I certainly know I am. And so are my fictional characters.
In Beneath a Camperdown Elm, three generations of women travel separate journeys of the heart. And as the writer of their stories, I walked through each of their joys and sorrows, trials and troubles, as well as triumphs with them.
Looking back, I’ve endured so many different seasons over the years. I’ve been young and looked for love and struggled with family hurts similar to Reba Mae Cahill. I relate to Reba’s chosen career becoming her main identity. When threatened with the loss of the Cahill ranch, she fights to not only regain it, but also to know who she is without it.
In addition, my parenting and life choices haven’t always been perfect, like with Hanna Jo Cahill. And I relate to Grandma Pearl Cahill’s struggles with aging and guilt for failures, health issues and finances, and finding purpose for the rest of her widowed existence.
One of the thrills of being a writer is to get characters into deep troubles and go on a mission of discovery to find the way out for them. The Cahill women deal with lies, deception, and betrayal. In the real world, we all have many trials and troubles. We so long for some wonderful resolution. To make sense of it all. To know our sacrifices and attempts to do things right will all be worthwhile. Our heart cries out that justice will rule over unfairness.
I find that the trek through my characters world, with each of their faults, quirks, and viewpoints, helps to build my own character. I’m inside their come-to-life-in-my-mind skin for a while. What they think penetrates me. I dig deep to find out why they act like they do and understand myself a bit better. When they agonize or shout ‘hooray,’ we weep and rejoice together. Who they become shapes me too.
Walking with the Cahill women has increased my faith by dealing with their fears and looking at the full overarch of a family’s history. For instance, they must live with hurts and wounds from choices other people made that impacted them. Their own decisions brought consequences too. Divine providence worked in it, through it, and in spite of it. I trust God is doing the same for me and mine.
Writing dramatic fiction can be emotionally traumatic work, if you do it right. In a few days or hours, in a moment, something happens to change the whole course of a character’s future. That’s when art imitates life.
Writing fiction helps me to work through the fortunes and failures of others. Enduring their miseries provides catharsis for reckoning with my own. Finding surprise solutions for them reminds me God has many more resources from which to provide for my needs. I’m encouraged to release Him to write my own story.
We can be assured of this:
God, who knows all and sees all,
will set all things straight in the end.
Even better, he will dry every tear.
In the meantime,
He mysteriously takes our sorrows
and uses them to heal the world.
Richard J. Foster
Question: How did a fictional character impact your personal life?
Leave a comment and your name will be entered into the drawing for the book. Thanks, Janet!–Lyn