Do you struggle with how real to be in your writing?
When I wrote my first novel, I got pushback from church and my women’s group for having curse words in my book. I never promoted the book as a Christian book, but people assumed because I was in the church that the book had to be a Christian book. The truth is it was very much a Believer’s story, but I knew I couldn’t promote it as one because the content was too raw and unfiltered. They literally banned my book at the church and the women’s group.
I eventually updated my books and republished them without the curse words. I couldn’t remove the content because it would lose the realness of Sage’s story. I wasn’t willing to do that. As I reflect on it, I should have left the curse words, too. I take it all as a learning experience and am moving forward. I have more books in me that I’m eager to get out; I know the direction I want to go with them, and I’m not going to let anyone influence my decision that it isn’t paying me. If I’m honest, I never wanted to write a Christian book when it came to Fiction. What I realize now is that I have control over that. I wonder how many people have written a book or are thinking about writing a book and wondering how “real” to be. How many people want to write their story but fear the backlash that may come from those involved, especially family. It reminds me of a quote I recently read:
“you own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories if people wanted you to write warmly about them. They should’ve behaved better.” -Anne Lamott.
I am reminded of when I watched the TLC movie Crazy, Sexy, Cool. Immediately following the premiere, their former manager threatened to sue for defamation of character for their portrayal of her in the film. I love how TLC responded. They explained that it was their story to tell and that this is how it happened for them.
We can adopt that same concept when writing our own stories. We don’t have to hold back. If you are concerned about exposing someone, you can always change the names and put a disclaimer in your book. There is a flip side to that as well. Sharing your story doesn’t mean you have to share everything. And, just because you keep parts of it to yourself doesn’t make your book any less “real.”
This is your story. You can tell it how you want. Just be “real” about what you choose to share. Your audience will appreciate it.
At the end of the day, if you are being true to yourself and know this is how God wanted you to tell your story, grab that pen and let it out. Your readers will appreciate that too.