Write Your Heart Out

I consider writing as a form of therapy. It’s calming, it’s a way to temporarily escape from the real world, and it makes my heart come alive. Writing is my passion; therefore, I come alive inside whenever I’m doing it.

Sometimes I’ll write the “old-fashioned” way: with a pen and a notebook. The rhythm and the physical motion of writing by hand is somehow relaxing.

The familiar rhythm.

The familiar dark blue ink on the crisp white background.

The familiar sense of calm that comes over me as the tip of the pen scratches across the surface of the paper.

The familiar forms of the letters taking shape as the thoughts in my head are magically transferred onto the page.

The familiar feeling of being transported to a familiar place where adventure is waiting around every corner to take me to the unfamiliar.

The familiar realization that the cheap piece of plastic in my hand is in fact a weapon – a paintbrush which paints worlds which no one has ever seen before except for me –  or perhaps it is a weapon which brings life rather than death – or it is a magic wand which keeps the power to either create or destroy literally right at my fingertips.

In fact, I actually wrote all the above random, somewhat-poetic-sounding things with my favorite pen. Sometimes I just like writing with pens, you know… all writers have their quirks, and having a slight, odd obsession with pens is one of mine. So I picked up this brand new pen. It was my favorite kind, which is just a plain old blue ballpoint pen – I will rarely write with anything else – and I started writing with it. I wrote about what happens to me when I write. Unfortunately, I wrote on the first piece of paper within sight, which happened to be a piece of scrap paper. I think I may have accidentally thrown it away a few days ago, but luckily I had read over it several times and so I remember the general ideas I had written down. There are probably a bunch that I’m not recalling, though.

Besides the act of writing itself being calming, I find that the mental transition is also very calming. As I write, I am transporting myself to another world – a world where I am in complete control when I feel I have no control over my own life. A world where, for a little while at least, I have no problems to worry about except those of my characters. Writing is my escape sometimes.

But it is so much more than that. When I write, I take myself to a world completely of my own making. A world which no human eye has ever, ever seen before. A world in a completely different universe where people still believe in magic, or where time and space themselves behave differently, or where the lives of imaginary characters play out in one massive plot. It is all imaginary, and yet to the writer is is all very, very real.

Most writers, myself included, are introverts. Writing is a way to share myself with the world. I usually don’t share my thoughts with very many people, so writing is a way to do that. I can write my heart out. It’s very freeing sometimes to be able to do that. And this blog I started not that long ago is a way for me to write my heart out. Fictional stories only go so far. Before long, you start to want to share more of your life with the world. This is a way to let me share my passions and my deeper thoughts with the world.

And still, writing, to me, is so much more. Writing is what makes my heart come alive. Writing is my passion. I have many passions, like learning about quantum physics (yes, I know I’m crazy), and anything to do with Great Britain in general. But writing tops them all. My passion for God and the Gospel also tops them all.

When I was fourteen, I wrote a story which was different than any other story I had ever written before. This story had depth; this story had meaning. This story changed me. I realized that writing was what I wanted to do with my life, at least for the next several years. I realized that writing was what made my heart come alive.

And the best part is that, through writing, I can share my faith. If the story doesn’t have a meaning, it is, well, meaningless. If it lacks the truth of the Gospel, it somehow doesn’t mean as much. Like I’ve said before, readers like to see the truths that are written on their hearts. Redemption. If redemption is written on their hearts, then wouldn’t it make sense that writing your heart out involves some great, dramatic story about the very truths that have been in place since before the beginning of time? If the Gospel is written on our hearts, then doesn’t it makes sense that writing your heart out involves writing a story about the Gospel?

So go on. Write your heart out. I’m challenging you.

Words, Magic, and Divine Power

My footsteps are muffled crunching sounds as I walk down the now silent and abandoned street. My breath puffs out in a cloud of smoke and disappears among the hundreds of thickly-falling snowflakes, illuminated perfectly by the harsh yellow glow of a streetlamp. I shove my hands deeper into my coat pockets, the fuzzy lining rubbing against my chapped hands. And although the frigid air bites at my nose and cheeks, a smile spreads across my face, because there is just something magical about the first snowfall of the year.

Words

Sometimes I like to write short little scenes like this based off of real things I’ve experienced. Even if it’s nothing particularly exciting, I still like to experiment and see if I can write it as if it were a scene in a book. I journal fairly often, and occasionally I’ll describe bits of my day like that. (The above example actually took place a couple of weeks ago. I love snow, as you can probably tell.)

Sometimes I like to take it a step further. I’ll add fictional components. Usually this means changing the mood of the scene. For example, what was the set mood of the scene? Magical? Peaceful? Calm? Exciting? What if I were to add a few things – just a few – that completely changed the mood? Maybe add some action? Like this:

My footsteps are muffled crunching sounds as I run down the now silent and abandoned street, my breath coming hard. It puffs out into clouds of smoke and disappears among the hundreds of thickly-falling snowflakes. My footsteps are far too loud, I think. I avoid the harsh yellow glow of the streetlamp, staying just outside the circle of light. I pause to catch my breath, my heart hammering inside my burning chest. The fuzzy lining of my coat pockets rubs against my chapped skin. My fingers are trembling and I clutch at the fabric to get them to stop. The frigid air bites at my nose and cheeks. My legs are tense, as if they have frozen in place. I shiver, glance behind me, and continue at a run down the street. Suddenly the streetlamp behind me goes out, casting everything into darkness, and a gunshot pierces the still night.

Okay, maybe I overdid it with that bit about the gunshot at the end, but do you see what I mean? It’s easy to change the set mood of a scene with just a few words.

I guess what I’m really doing is changing the scene within a setting, and that changes the mood of the setting. Settings can have different moods. A different example is a forest. (A bit of a cliché, but who cares.) Let’s say a character grows up in this forest. He played make-believe there, he escaped there when he was angry or sad, he even had his first kiss there. He knows every tree, every stone, every twist and turn of this forest. But then let’s say that this character now for some reason is frantically hurrying through this forest, staring at the ground, and the trees he thought he knew so well seem to be concealing dark, age-old secrets from him. What’s different? Perhaps our character discovered that the forest is the resting place of a great treasure with a mysterious and sinister past.

Anyway, that example was getting a little beyond what I wanted to do here. I didn’t want to go on in an in-depth study of how emotions and moods change when new circumstances come up and so forth and whatever else it was that I was doing. I only wanted to illustrate how a few words can completely change an entire scene. Because words are magic.

Magic

Yes, my friend, words are magic. I’ve heard that a lot of things are magic, like writing, reading, music, words, and numbers. I agree one hundred percent with all of these, but of course, words are the real magic behind writing and reading.  (Music and numbers are too, but unfortunately I don’t have time to write about that today.) Words can be manipulated, and the author has infinite power over them. The author, if they are using the words correctly, can manipulate the reader to believe, think, and feel anything they want them to.

And why is that, you ask? The answer lies in the Bible. In fact, and this is crazy, but all you have to do is read one single chapter out of the entire Bible, and you will understand. This chapter is John 1. It starts like this:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (ESV)

I just absolutely love this passage, because it talks about Jesus being the Word. I had to study it a bit to see what it was saying, because it’s rather metaphorical. It’s almost like a poem.

The Word is Jesus. Jesus is God. When God created the universe, the planet Earth, and everything on it, he did it by speaking. He did it with words. These words are recorded in Genesis: “Let there be -” And whatever he said sprang into existence.

Divine Power

I have always compared the process of writing a story to God creating the world. God saw in his mind the universe he was going to create, and he said the words that made it come into existence out of nothing. Obviously (and I hope I shouldn’t have to explain it to you) there is a drastic difference between writing stories and God creating the universe. All we, as writers, can create is fiction. No matter how many stories we write, no matter what words we use, our stories will always be fiction. Even though we are creating something out of nothing, we can never do any better than fiction. God, however, holds the power to speak things into existence – real things that we can see and hear and touch – and even invisible things that we may not be aware of. God is the ultimate Author, and he is writing the ultimate story.

The name of my first novel is The Story and the Author. I can’t remember why I originally named it that, but I know now that it has a triple meaning. It is about a man who writes a story. The first part is the story itself (his autobiography), and the second part is about what happens to him after he writes his story, so the book is literally about a story and its author. The second meaning subtly breaks the fourth wall. I wrote myself into the story (as one of the characters, not as myself), thus, the book is about me, the author, and my story. And the third meaning is my favorite. This meaning is perhaps the most subtle of all, but it illustrates the fact that God is the Author of life, and he is writing a story – a story that started at the beginning of time and is still going. We are all characters in this story, and we all play some part in it. Except this story is very much real.

So, no matter how you view them, words are always magic. Words have the power to create or to destroy. They have the power to evoke emotion or to manipulate thoughts. With words, God created the entire universe. With words, God is writing the greatest story of all time.

We’ve all experienced how magical words can be. Where (and how) have you experienced it? In what stories? And if you like writing, have you ever written a passage that you thought was truly magical? I’d love to hear from you!

A Year In Review

Hello everyone. As you will probably notice, I took a little break for the holidays and am just now getting back into writing blog posts. Today I’m going to look back at the year 2016, specifically from my writing POV. Of course, I only started blogging a couple of weeks ago, so I’ll have to fill you in on the rest of the year.

I wrote a couple of short stories – one of them is still sitting around somewhere waiting for me to go back and revise it. And the other one I hope never to see again.  You know how some stories are just simply horrific until you go back and reread them after a few months? But then you also have the stories that are still simply horrific even after you reread them. And yep, that was one of those stories.

There were also periods of time this year where I suffered from writer’s block. I had no ideas and thus nothing to write. It was terrible. But then I decided to do NaNoWriMo, so that sort of took care of that. NaNo was probably one of my two writing highlights of the year.

I was also able to edit a novel I’d written a while ago – the purpose being so that I could get it printed on this amazing machine called the Espresso Book Machine. That was really fun, and I consider it my other writing highlight of the year.

In addition to writing projects (and numerous ideas that only turned into a couple of scenes before I got bored – that’s what happens when writer’s block decides to linger for two months at a time), I also grew a lot closer to God this year. I think I can say that the overall thing I learned was that I need to trust him. I need to stop relying on myself for strength and instead place my trust in him. This year I learned that if I do that, he will always give me strength to face whatever is coming at me.

This makes me think of a verse from Proverbs: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (ESV) (That verse is from Proverbs 3:5-6, if you want to know.)

Throughout the entire year, God has been teaching me this, but there was one time in particular that comes to mind. It was during the week where I volunteered at Camp Attitude, which is a summer camp for special-needs kids and teens and their families. I was assigned to one kid, and for the entire week, I was just her special friend. It was very hard, but it was so very rewarding! During that week I learned to rely on God every day. I learned to trust him.

So, this year, I learned at least two very important things: Trust God, and writer’s block doesn’t last. Although… I seem to forget that little fact whenever I actually get writer’s block. But hey, this brings me to another very important point: When you’re going through darker times or when you’re really struggling with something, it can be hard to remember to trust God. I’m pretty sure every Christian has experienced something like this at some point in their life. I’m still trying to learn it myself. God is still teaching me.

Oh, I guess I shouldn’t leave without saying something about new year’s resolutions. I’ve never really been big on resolutions. Mine have always been something along the lines of “write something amazing” (2016), “build a hoverboard” (2015, and I epically failed… sorry, Marty McFly), or… wait, I didn’t even have one in 2014. This  year, though, my resolution (I guess it’s more of a “goal”) is to GET A BOOK PUBLISHED. I’ll keep you posted on how I do, because it’s very ambitious, especially if I decide to write the last two books of a trilogy at the same time.

So, this year has been somewhat of an adventure, a journey… and I hope 2017 will bring all new adventures. All you writers, what was this year like for you? Do you have any resolutions? I’d love to hear from you!

Happy New Year! I’ll see you in 2017!

The Learning Experience

The thing about writing is, you always end up changed somehow. After every story, you take a step back and say, “Wow. I learned something.” Because writing is an experience in which you practically live in your mind and pour your heart out onto paper. This process makes you grow as a person and writer; it makes you learn things you never knew before, and it makes you discover things about yourself. Even if it’s as simple as, “Wow, I really hate this premise,” you’ve learned something: you should never try to write a story with that premise again.

Okay just kidding. If, in the future, you go back to that story you thought was horrible and you find you like it, by all means, you’re welcome to rewrite it or whatever. More power to you, because that’s something I’ve never been able to do.

My point is, no matter how good the story turns out, you always learn something. I have found that for every story I write, I always learn something about myself, and I always learn something about God.

My most recent story was about these twelve characters who represent the twelve disciples. They go on a quest to achieve who-knows-what (I hardly even know yet. Maybe I should figure that out.) I think, now that I’ve taken a step back from it, that I can say that what I learned about myself was that I am capable of breaking past the boundaries I set for myself. I wrote this particular story during November for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Going into it I thought that it was downright impossible to write an entire novel in just one month. I thought that there was no way I could stay on top of my daily and weekly word count goals. I had never even attempted it before, and at the time I thought it was extremely ambitious. Impossible. I would never succeed. Furthermore, how was I supposed to write anything when I barely even knew what would happen in the story?

It turned out that all those boundaries I had set up for myself at some point were all false. Last month I learned that I could do what I thought was impossible, and that that statement applied to all areas of writing. I learned that I shouldn’t assume I couldn’t do something until I attempted it.

Now I could go on and on about what I learned about God. And yet, it is harder to put into words. Every time I write a story, it’s like I rediscover the Gospel for the first time. Sometimes I find a new aspect of it that I had never realized before. For example, one of my stories (I wrote this one about a year or two ago) focused on the theme of slavery: we are slaves to sin until we accept what Christ did for us. Then he frees us from our bondage and makes us slaves to Himself. While writing that story, I really explored this theme and was led to specific passages of the Bible that talked about it. Romans 6 is one of my favorites. But no matter what specific theme my story is exploring, I always end up seeing the Gospel in a new light.

Sometimes, this seeing of the Gospel also leads to moments of self-discovery: “There are people in this world who are still in sin’s bondage. Therefore, I MUST find them and show them the truth.” That one story in particular changed my views on everything. It changed my view of the world, it changed my view of God, and it even changed my view of myself. (Coincidentally, it was because of that one story that I realized I wanted to be a writer.)

So, writers are always learning things. I personally love the process of writing and discovery. I always look forward to writing new stories because of all the things I know I’ll be learning. I think the coolest part, though, is everything God teaches me about Himself. I always love seeing the Gospel as if it was my very first time. The Gospel is just one of those stories that never gets old – like those timeless stories I mentioned in my last post. Except the Gospel is the Timeless Story, because it gets woven into many, many countless other stories.

So, if you write, what do you learn from it? How have you grown over the years because of it? I’d love to hear from you!

An Analysis of a Story

Today I’m going to talk about what makes a good story. No, I’m not going to discuss the roles of the protagonist/antagonist; I’m not going to talk about a good plot, setting the stakes, introducing conflict, or what makes a compelling character arc; I’m not going to talk about how to create a truly magical fantasy world. All of these things are valuable to a story and are worth knowing, but today I’m going to talk about something called… well, I don’t actually know what it’s called.

What makes a story stick with a reader?

(Don’t get this confused with what makes a reader stick with a story. Today we’re flipping that and looking at it the other way around.)

What is it about some stories that stick with us forever, while other stories we forget about within a week, even though it was wonderfully written and kept our attention? What common element can be found in all timeless stories, stories that will never be forgotten, ever?

Like The Lord of the Rings. It’s one of my personal favorites, and I think it is definitely classified as a timeless story. In fact, this example works out perfectly, because Sam Gamgee (who is the best character in the entire saga and no you may not argue with me) actually tells us about, in his opinion, what makes the best stories:

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something…. That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”

He said this to Frodo in The Two Towers, and he is completely right on every point he made. And he stumbled across that element that should be in all stories if you want them to stick with the reader forever.

Readers want to see characters who fight until the end, even though it looks bleak and impossible. Even though evil will win for sure. Readers want to see characters fight for what they believe anyway. They want to see characters hold on to what little good is left. And of course, good wins in the end. Because these characters fought, even though they had lots of chances to turn back and give up, even if tragedy struck or the darkness ruled, the characters fought and they won.

Readers want to see the timeless truths that are written on their hearts. Everyone, regardless of their religion or worldview, knows instinctively about the constant battle between good and evil. Everyone, whether or not they have ever heard the good news of the Gospel, has an internal longing for redemption. Redemption from anything that holds them captive. And all the best stories illustrate this.

We are a fallen race. We know we are lost. We long to be redeemed. And because of this universal need that drives us, the great stories stay in our minds. If a story depicts an epic display of selfless love, or a dramatic rescue, it will affect us. If we are Christians, the story will especially resonate with us because we know about the saving grace of God. If we are not Christians, the story will leave us thinking about greater things, things that are beyond us, wonderful things we cannot even begin to imagine. And it will still resonate with us because we know that there must be some truth in it somewhere.

And we know that achieving redemption is never easy. There is always a struggle, always a fight. Usually there is a sacrifice. The Harry Potter series is another wonderful example. Regardless of whether or not it was intended, there are countless redemptive messages within that series. The darkness keeps pressing in, evil is overtaking everything, and yet there is a glimmer of hope. There is still the promise of redemption. And the characters had lots of chances to give up. But they never did. They kept fighting until the end, despite tragedy, death, and the general feeling of hopelessness. And they won.

See, all the good stories have that element! A fall from grace and perfection, the long fight against evil, and finally one savior who redeems them all and defeats the evil. This is the Gospel. Sometimes at the end of the story we even get a little glimpse of the end of the end – where everything will be made right again. In The Return of the King, in the very last chapter, we see this. Frodo sails away to the Grey Havens, which is a place where there is no evil and no pain. That part always makes me cry because it’s just so good.

Whether we realize it or not, the Gospel is written on the hearts of humanity. We know the struggle between good and evil is real, and we know we need a savior. Sadly, many of us do not have a personal relationship with the one true Savior: Jesus Christ. And yet, these stories still resonate with us. And maybe, one of them will strike a chord within us and leave us wanting more – and maybe we’ll be led to the Savior.

If you take any great story – any story that has stuck with you from the first time you’ve read it – and you analyze it, I guarantee you will find a story of redemption.

I’ve shared my favorite stories with you, but what are some of yours? Which stories have stuck with you? What was it about them that drew you in so much? I’d love to hear from you!

My Crazy Writing Life

Hello. My name is Talia Prewette, and this is my writing blog. That means: One, I’m a crazy author. (All you fellow crazy authors out there will understand, and the rest of you will just be like, “Huh?”) And two, this blog will mostly be about writing, not just everyday life.

So yeah, there you go. I’m a crazy author who writes crazy stories about crazy characters who live in crazy fantasy worlds and go on crazy time traveling adventures. Okay, I guess they could be described as something other than crazy… but for now that works. Occasionally I may post a short story or two and you can decide for yourself.

All writers, regardless of whether or not they are crazy, have a reason they write. Maybe they’re taking a writing class for school. Maybe they’re very interested in a certain subject – like high tea traditions of Great Britain, or the string theory – and so they write about them. For many writers, the reason they write is because they are driven to. They are driven by a deep passion inside of them to put words onto paper to create something beautiful.

This is why I write. God has given me a passion for it. A passion to put the words in my head onto paper and create something beautiful out of it. A passion to create stories. But God has given me another passion that runs even deeper than my passion to write. This passion, this desire, is burning inside of me like a fire. I am called to spread the Gospel.

At the end of Matthew 28, Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (ESV) This is the Great Commission. (If you’ve never read the story, check it out. God is the ultimate Author, after all, and He has written – and is still writing – the greatest story of all time.)

So, because of this calling God has placed on my life, I write. All of my stories – whether they are just short stories or full novels – point to God. They are pictures of the Gospel. Take The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It is an allegory. It gives us a picture of the Gospel. It shows us how God gave us salvation. So do my stories. I am called to spread the truth of the Gospel, and I do it through writing.

My purpose of this blog is to let people know about me and why I write. I’ll blog about the writing life and about God; maybe occasionally I’ll give my two cents of writing advice; I may share what God shows me through the things I write; and maybe, sometime in the future I’ll even post a few short stories. Or chapters of a novel. I hope to be able to post every few days, but I can’t say for sure whether that’s even possible yet.

Thanks so much for checking out my writing blog! All you writers out there: why do you write? What kinds of things do you write? I’d love to hear from you!