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Thursday, January 28, 2010


I feel like I just got off a roller coaster. The ground is still shaky--and so am I. Finishing Conundrum, my ninth novel, was an extremely hard accomplishment. The writing aspects of it weren't any more difficult than my other novels, albeit the many plotlines and timelines were a bit complex. But the emotional journey sure had its ups and downs. Because I drew so much from my past, my dysfunctional family, and the hardest and most painful time in my life, I had to wrestle throughout most of my writing with staying both absorbed and detached as I wrote.

The best writing comes from drawing from our hearts--emotions, feelings, memories--and infusing our stories with these elements so that a richness of story comes across. I struggled daily with allowing myself to dive deeply into pain. I needed to draw from that well to tell my story, but I also needed to insulate myself from the piercing coldness that ached and threatened to hinder my ability to write objectively--which is needed when dealing with the nuts and bolts of basic story-telling. I did not want to rant, gush, or whine, nor did I want my protagonist (a lot like me!) to do likewise.

Exploring the themes of my novel, though, helped me in many ways. I was able to distance myself from my entire betrayal experience and look at it from many angles. I was forced to tear apart all the different converging and muddled emotions and study each one. Where had the pain and hurt come from and why? What did I learn? My theme was truth--can it be found? Was it worth pursuing? What if uncovering truth hurt others or self in the process? It was an interesting theme to explore and expose. We have been taught that a search for truth is not only noble but essential for emotional and spiritual well-being. Yet, sometimes truth is a matter of perspective. And sometimes uncovering lies while searching for truth is a bit like hefting massive boulders out of a hole and then dumping them on your feet--or on someone else's.

My father's death remains an enigma. I may never know how or why he acquired leukemia after wishing himself to die. It posed an intriguing conundrum for me, as I had rarely ever thought of my father throughout my life. My protagonist, Lisa, was able to lure out hidden memories of her father, and in her search for truth, felt a connection with this man who had died when she was four. That didn't happen for me, although my research sent me to NY where I reunited with my uncle after forty years and listened to amazing stories about my father. My uncle gave me a handwritten letter my father wrote shortly before he died--the bulk of which is part of my novel. His handwriting eerily looks just like mine.

It may take a long time for me to process what I learned on this journey. I wanted to create a book that also showed how right it is to separate from toxic family members. So many people have experienced betrayal at the hands of loved ones, but, out of some sense of obligation, continue to pursue relationships with them, which are harming them beyond belief. Jesus told us not to give what is holy to the dogs, or throw our pearls before swine. God showed me that our personal integrity, dignity, and self-respect are precious pearls and we must not let others trample them and us. Jesus said people like that will turn and rip you to pieces. And they will, should you give them the chance.

This does not mean we are unforgiving. We love and forgive and pray for salvation for those who have betrayed us. But God directed me to write this novel for a reason, which, I believe, is to assure those who are suffering that it is not only all right but essential to cut such poisonous people from our lives in order to survive and thrive. And we have children who likewise need to be protected.

My prayer is that this book will be an inspiration and provide healing and encouragement for many. It is brimming with conflict and pain, but it is also hopeful and full of healing. I grumbled a lot when given this "assignment," but I know, in the end, it will bless someone. Maybe even me.

1 comment:

  1. What a huge and complicated accomplishment in writing this story, Susanne. I can so relate to equating some family to throwing our pearls before swine....and the need to forgive when its the right thing to do. I admire you being able to go "there" and relive and pull that part of your past out and into the open for your story. Congrats from Oregon