Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Vulnerability of Writing from the Heart

Sometimes it is so difficult to make myself vulnerable by writing for and from the heart. However, I am learning as I read Mary DeMuth's Thin Places that it can be done. This book has been such an inspiration to me. For writers, or for readers who want to be encouraged even as your heart breaks, Thin Places is a must read. Have plenty of tissues at the ready. You'll need them. I'd read a while, cry a while, then put it away for a while -- and repeat until the end.

Reading Thin Places has been a real encouragement for me both as a writer and as one who has experienced some difficult life experiences. Writing from the heart requires a willingness to bare one's soul for the benefit of the reader. The writer who embraces the opportunity to serve God by permitting herself to be vulnerable can participate with her Lord in the life-changing process.

It's easier for a reader to believe a writer's attempts to teach, to support, or to encourage if that writer's ben there -- has had a similar experience and with God's help, has come through it in victory.

For example, I can empathize with the Christian woman who did not have divorce in her vocabulary, and who thought he believed in the sanctity of marriage, only to find herself divorced after twenty-plus years into a life together. I've been there. And, by God's grace, I have spent two more decades recovering and getting used to living alone -- yet never really alone. I've seen God bring good into my life through the circimstances. And now, I have time to do the writing I only had time to dream about while raising a family. At long last, I'm fulfilling the writing urge God has given me.

I can also encourage the distraught writer hopeful whose professor or managing editor has torn her heart to shreds by a harsh grade or critique. I've been there. Later, the publisher and the managing editor at the newspaper where I worked both praised my writing ability. I can say to the writer, "keep on keepin' on. You'll make it."

Why? I've been there.

It has taken a good number of years both to become content with my singleness and to improve my writing skills -- especially in switching from newswriting to fiction writing. My next challenge, to have my first novel ready for the ACFW 2010 Conference.

We Hoosier bloggers would love to hear what our readers have learned the hard way of writing, and re-writing, and re-writing again. How can you now encourage the writing endeavors of others? What are you doing to grow as a writer? Would you drop us a note and let us know what's happening with your writing?"

Pat Radaker


  1. Beautiful, important post about your own journey! And thank you for plugging Thin Places!

  2. Pat; Great post. Sometimes we forget that all of us have an innate need to have our self worth validated. I can live a whole month on just one compliment.

    For more than twenty years I felt the call to write, but I pushed the desire back and resisted the calling because I thought it was too lofty of a goal for a person like myself.

    At forty-five, with a strong desire to write, I finally finished highschool, went to college and in seven years finished a master's degree in English. The motivation that kept me going...while working a full-time job? A college professor who said, "You've got the gift." It may have been nothing more than chit-chat for him, but now more ten years later I still cling to those few words of encouragment.

    It reminds me of the power we have in our words to encourage other writers. As Natalie Goldberg said, (I paraphrase) "When I get to heaven and Saint Peter asks my occupation, I'll say...I encouraged people to write. Then the gates will swing open wide to let me inside."