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Your [Messy] Story Matters

I'm dabbling with a story idea and recently wrote an exchange between two characters in which one says, "We all have things in life we wish were different." Shortly after writing that, someone voiced the same sentiment to me.

I'm guessing it's true for you, too. There are parts of your story you wish were different. Parts that don't end the way you'd like, or maybe you wish they hadn't happened at all. The joy of fiction is gaining control of the narrative; but in real life, things get messy. Put your boots on. We're jumping into the mess.

Mini Devotional: Your Story Matters

Personally, I love when social media influencers turn the cameras around and show us the messy reality behind the perfect posts. The junk piles, the crumbs, and the stained clothes. Maybe it's bad to admit, but I rather like thinking that neighbor with the perfect house has shoved it all into a closet now bursting at the seams. Not because I want to glorify the mess, but because I like knowing I'm not the only one fighting it.

Last month I wrote about testimonies, and recently shared a snippet of mine with a group of women. I shared a bit that has a straight-forward beginning, a solid midpoint, and an end. As an author, that's the way I think. But as I listened to other stories that day, another snippet of my life swirled in my mind. Another part of my testimony for which I haven't found the words.

All I know is: there I once was, here I am now.

And I don't know how to tell you what happened in the middle. Prayers and tears were spent. Decisions were made, some good, some bad. It got messy for a bit. It took a long time, but I kept crawling through that tunnel until I realized I was out of it.

What sort of story is that? No stunning revelation, no brilliantly answered prayer. Just a lot of floundering and the steady work of the Holy Spirit, leading me through the mud. (Though I occasionally find a fleck here and there still.)

It doesn't make good fiction, I can tell you that much. But maybe we need to hear these stories. Many of us are living in them daily, and we need hope.

Which is why your story matters. Even if it's not the one you wanted, and you wish it were different. Even if the plot points don't play out the way we think they should, and it doesn't wrap up with a bow on top. Even if you haven't made it out of the mud, you've just gotten stronger from trudging through it.

Your story matters. Because someone else has a closet stuffed to the brim and they need to know they aren't alone. And that there is hope, however unevenly it comes.

Further Reading: Psalm 107

Latest Reads:

I fell behind a bit on my reads. I've been drafting a new book (it's going poorly) and it eats up my bits of free time. But I have finished a couple!

This is a fictional tribute to military spouses, told through the experiences of a soldier's fiancé. I cannot say enough good things about this book! I only wish it were longer. Don't start it if you have any plans in the next few hours. I was absolutely captivated. Gail is a West Point grad, Army vet, Army spouse and mother. She writes from first hand experience, and it shows—I could just about smell the sweaty soldiers with her vivid writing.

Note: Shortly before her book launched, Gail actually lost her oldest son to a military accident. They've started a foundation in his name, for his children and other Gold Star families. You can find out more about it here: DWYERFIRE Goldstar Foundation. Gail also has a blog with a little more information on their story.

Finding Naomi, Diane Nagatomo (Coming November 2024)

Finding Naomi was a bit of a cozy mystery, women's fiction, with a touch of romance all wrapped up in a cross-cultural setting. Set between Tokyo and rural Nebraska, Naomi's estranged father dies suddenly and she's left with an inheritance, a family history she never knew about, and a community ready to welcome her. Diane's rich descriptions made the cultural differences really come to life. Follow her for updates!

Set in 1907, this historical fiction almost reads like a biography of Katharine Prescott Wormeley. Framed around a fictional road trip, Olmsted provides glimpses into Wormeley's past and social circles through the various people she runs into and the memories she recalls throughout the trip. A gentle pace and easy read, the story is rich with historic details and New England scenery.

Author life

Not so fun fact I recently learned: approximately 10,000 books are published EVERY DAY in the U.S. alone. (Or around 4 million annually.) And the median author salary? $5,000 (big bucks, if you ask me). I don't mind the salary, I'm a stay-at-home mom, so I'm used to pretty low pay (ha)! But the number of books published? That gets a bit overwhelming.

So if you can, I encourage you to take a moment to support your favorite starving artists, whether it's someone you know or just someone you stumbled across and enjoyed their work. Here are a few great ways to support authors:

  • Leave a review online (Amazon, GoodReads, wherever you can). A few simple words mean a lot to the algorithm!

  • Recommend or gift their book to someone

  • Request their book at your library

  • Send them a note to say you enjoyed their work

Your support means a lot to those of us tossing our beloved book babies into the wilderness with four million others!


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