Stories that Matter

What Do You (Really) Want To Say?

Ever had those moments where you just need to speak your mind? It builds like a slow burning fire, until finally you can’t stand it anymore and you let her rip. Yeah, me neither.

Kidding. I get those moments a lot. I read something, hear something, see something that immediately kicks my heart-rate into high gear. But, much as I want to, more often than not, I don’t speak. I don’t say what I really want to because…well…honestly…I don’t know why. Perhaps I’m afraid of the repercussions if I do. Perhaps I know that what I really want to say won’t be accepted or even heard. Perhaps I know that what’s irking me really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things. Or, perhaps, I’m just afraid.

Fear is one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of healthy communication.

Right? Think about it. How many times have you walked away from a conversation with some regret? How many times have you come ‘this close’ to saying what you really need to, but don’t? I’m not one to confront, I avoid confrontation like the plague. It makes me all churned up inside. Maybe that’s just my personality. Maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about what other people think. But I do.

So it’s kind of funny that in my writing, I don’t really give much thought to having my characters speak their mind. Or maybe it’s not funny. Maybe this is my way of saying what I really want to say.

Over the last year, I’ve struggled with figuring out the kind of writer I want to be. And then I realized it’s not a matter of ‘wanting to be’. I already am that writer.

I don’t agonize over every word. I don’t worry about offending anyone, but neither do I intentionally set out to do so. I’ve been around long enough to know that no matter how hard you try, somebody out there is going to find something to pick on and get their knickers in a twist over. It happens. I’m not perfect and neither are my characters. As I’ve said before, (in this blog post)  I won’t pretty it up and put a bow on it. Sure, there’s a market for those Candyland type books, but I don’t read them and I don’t want to write them.

I write the kind of books I want to read. It’s that simple.

I live a real life complete with struggles and heartbreak and lots of love and laughter in between. I bet you do too. And sometimes life gets so hard you don’t know what to do with it. You don’t know where to find hope. But somehow, somewhere along the journey, you do. You catch a glimpse of it and you reach out and hold tight with everything you’ve got. And one day, you wake up, rub the grit from your eyes and find yourself standing in the middle of a miracle.

In this ever-changing world, we need a constant. A touchstone. Something solid that we know we can rely on, something that we know we’d be utterly bereft without. For me, that’s God. My faith. It may be for you as well, or it may be your spouse, your dog, your cat or your Mom. When I set out to tell a story, I want that book to be a touchstone. I want my readers to see my name on the cover and know exactly what they’re going to get. I want them to know that somewhere in those pages, they’re going to find hope.

I don’t want to disappoint. But I will remain true to myself and the words I believe God gives me. I write from the heart. It’s not always pretty. People fail. They sin. They might say crap. And maybe some other stuff. And yes, those same people might even be Christians. If that offends you, then you probably don’t want to read my books. But if you believe that we’re all put on this earth for a purpose, we’re all on a journey of faith in some way shape or form, all searching for hope, for truth, then you might find that my words resonate with you.

I may not always be great at expressing myself in person, but I will always strive to be honest. And I will always write the truth, with integrity and transparency. And, in my writing at least, I will say what I really want to say.

Your thoughts? 

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5 Comments

  1. terrib726 on May 9, 2013 at 11:02 am

    You know it!!

  2. Terri on May 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Cathy. We met at St. Louis two years ago; or was it Indianapolis three years ago.
    I’m reminded of Abe Lincoln’s paraphrase of poet John Lydgate: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
    I had an edit of a manuscript last year and the editor came down hard on my heroine, calling her shallow and selfish. Why? Because she had a humorous thought during World War II. Seriously?

  3. Keli Gwyn on May 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I read Yesterday’s Tomorrow, Cathy, and found the realistic portrayal of life with its challenges and joys moving. Our days are not always tied up with pretty pink bows. Sometimes bad things happen to us, and sometimes we make poor choices and bring them on ourselves. But through it all, the Lord is there loving us and desiring the best for us. You do a great job showing just that in your work. If He’s happy with what you’re doing, as I believe He is, then what some disgruntled readers think doesn’t matter, right? 🙂

  4. Grace on May 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Cathy, I find what you said about not speaking your mind true of myself, but I’m the same way with my characters. I find it rare that people ever say what’s on their mind/heart, even with people they’re very comfortable, which makes relationship communication so tricky! I love the tension of two characters both wanting to say something but don’t–I think it’s a realistic reflection of life. Relationships would be easy if they didn’t involve two people…

  5. dtopliff on May 29, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Beautiful post. So truly happy for you and family & found myself thinking of you often on that day and next few. Lifelong blessings to each of you.

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