He drew the bow across the strings and the instrument moaned a forlorn note. “Beautiful, that’s what you got to do with that hurtin’, you got to turn it beautiful.” He closed his eyes and began to play. He rocked back and forth on the log and let the song come out of him. He poured all his pain into the void of the violin and gently worked it out, turned it to beauty.
This is a quote from one of my favorite books, The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson.
Since I am a writer far more than I am a musician, I always think about it in relation to penning a story.
It’s easy to write when inspiration strikes with glorious brilliance, and the joy of story and of telling fills your soul and pours from your fingers in a river of gleaming prose.
It’s a lot harder to write when your soul feels battered and torn by the travails of life. When your heart is so weary that each word you put on the page feels like it sucked the last bit of strength and life from your body. When hope evades you, and the black cloud of sorrow obscures your vision.
The speculative fiction genre is all about the grand “what ifs.” Using imagination and the ability to speculate to “create” in imitation of the Creator.
But it’s hard to imagine what could be when what is presses in on your senses, so dark and heavy and close.
Suddenly the easy answers don’t satisfy. Trite sentiments are just that—trite and worth less than the paper and ink it takes to scribble them down. It becomes apparent that a life lived happily ever after belongs to the realm of myth.
And you are tempted to simply shove the hurt and the aching down until it’s buried so deep no one else can see it. But you can still feel it. You haven’t gotten rid of it, only bottled it up. And it’s still there. Gnawing away inside of you, like a ravenous wolf, and every now and then it threatens to break loose.
You smile and the lies slip easily from your tongue. But while all the world marvels at the airbrushed façade, everything within feels like it’s withering.
“Turn it beautiful.”
These are the moments when you should write.
When you are raw and broken and empty. Give the dam leave to crack, if only for a moment, so that the river can seep through before the pressure reaches the breaking point.
You see, the answers that come easily don’t need to be written. Sentiments that are trite or hackneyed spring from the tips of more than enough pens—yours need not be among them. And instead of happily-ever-after, joy and sorrow often walk hand-in-hand.
When you write only in the burst of happy inspiration, your stories will feel clean and neatly pressed. But when is life ever like that? Such stories fail to engage readers on anything but a superficial level because they don’t ring true.
So dig deep. Ponder the difficult questions through the endless watches of the night. Know that you do not wander alone along this long and weary road beneath a starless sky. There are others too who have walked similar paths … or are walking them at this moment.
So write empty. Write broken.
Write weary and battleworn.
And in the midst of the all the chaos,
Sing the rising of the dawn.
Every generation has a Songkeeper—one chosen to keep the memory of the Song alive. And in every generation, there are those who seek to destroy the chosen one.
When Birdie’s song draws the attention of a dangerous Khelari soldier, she is kidnapped and thrust into a world of ancient secrets and betrayals. Rescued by her old friend, traveling peddler Amos McElhenny, Birdie flees the clutches of her enemies in pursuit of the truth behind the Song’s power.
Ky is a street-wise thief and a member of the Underground—a group of orphans banded together to survive … and to fight the Khelari. Haunted by a tragic raid, Ky joins Birdie and Amos in hopes of a new life beyond the reach of the soldiers. But the enemy is closing in, and when Amos’ shadowed past threatens to undo them all, Birdie is forced to face the destiny that awaits her as the Songkeeper of Leira.
Gillian Bronte Adams is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a Christian youth camp, but at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs and transforms into a novelist. You can hang out with her on her blog or facebook page where she loves discussing all things to do with books, fantasy, and characters.
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