...there must be a dark place for it to glow.
Is it a good thing to hate your character's life? To be so depressed and distressed about their problems, their circumstances...to the point where writing about them makes you wish the story had never come about in the first place? Where you cringe and avoid writing that certain scene because...just because?
That's just about where I am sometimes with Abigail in A Name Worth Carrying. I'm pretty sure that there are people out there with a lot more (and worse) problems than she has....100% sure. But even with what she's going through, because I'm having to bring it to life...I realize that this might be the first time I've truly felt for those people who don't have it as well off as I do. Sure, I've known there are problems in the world, but there's something about experiencing it, even if it is just through the written word, that really cuts deep. For a time, I am Abigail. I am the one abandoned, confused, terrified, broken and scarred. And I don't like it.
Yet, I know there is hope. Abby may not see it yet, but I do. I know what's coming, I am arranging the circumstances to bring her to the place she needs to be for all those crucial changes to be made. She can't change what's happened to her, but she can change the way she reacts, the way she deals with it.
(This is a reason I love writing. I didn't realize it until I started typing the paragraph above, but maybe you did? As I write, I am repeating the recurring story of life, whether I know it or not. In a sense, I really am Abigail. I don't know what's coming, but God does. He is guiding me, ordering things for the final outcome. The things that must take place to get me to the end will not always be good. In fact, most of them I probably won't like. Anyway, I would go on with this subject, but it's not the point of this post...and I would most likely ramble.)
How necessary is it for writers to deal with dark, painful subjects in order to show the light (e.g. depression, immorality, broken families, murder, etc.)? This is something I've struggled with, both in reading and writing. There are certain subjects I just don't want to think about or deal with. So I avoid them. I can live with vague implications. Some things are necessary to get the point across, to make it real. But is it right to delve into it, even if these things are clearly shown in a negative light?
What if this is a story that needs to be told? If there is something you feel so strongly convicted about, that you must write about it, otherwise feel as though you have ignored a nudge from the Giver of the words you use?
Then, I say, write it. But, use discretion. You will not only be speaking to or reaching those directly involved with such issues, but the casual readers who randomly pick up the book from the library shelf. Or, your friends and family who want to support your work. (Don't scare them away, making them wonder what in the world is wrong with you... Sure, some things may need a disclaimer... For example, I'm planning on dedicating ANWC to my family, so no one thinks I'm writing a disguised autobiography... =P)
One of the main things that worries me is writing something with redemption in mind, yet not working it throughout the fabric of the story and having it hit awkwardly at the end. Then, it feels as if the "redemptive" quality was just tacked on. I've read books like this, and they are not satisfying.
Fellow readers and writers, what are your opinions on this subject? How much "darkness" are you willing to grope through to find the light in the midst of it? At what point does it stop being beneficial? And, for that matter, is it ever beneficial? Philippians 4:8 comes to mind -- "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (KJV)" -- but what about spreading the Light to those who need it?
"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light."
(Eph 5:8-13 KJV - emphasis added)
Hm, hm. Many things to consider. I hope that wasn't too muddled. If so, I apologize.
[photo from "mobiletoones.com"...? result of a google search]