The Heart of a Tale (and the Doubts of an Author)

What is the heart of a story?

Is it the meaning behind it? Or the emotion you feel as it surges and rises and falls? Or simply the chance to desert this broken world for a short spell?

Well, on Tuesday I had my second mentoring session and was asked to describe and consider the key message of my book. I’ve thought of that before of course, it was integral to my story planning before I started writing the first chapter.

Love is as strong as death.

There’s no greater love than sacrificing oneself for your friends.

Even if we make mistakes, there’s always grace.

That last one grew in the telling of the tale, but I know it’s there.

But then, my mentor pushed further. Why am I writing this story? What will people get out of it?

It was actually wonderful.

As someone who’s struggled with whether I *should* write, and *should* publish (both in general and this book specifically) being reminded of the heart of what I was trying to achieve was amazing.

It somehow encouraged me that my book is not bad, nor will it detract from or even harm the lives of those that read it. It’s not evil, a dark hole…

As a Christian, those are the thoughts that sometimes come into my mind, and while I believe God has said I can do this, it’s hard to believe sometimes when the doubts creep in. What if God doesn’t want me to do this? What if I’m being stubborn, and disobedient?  

So, besides my times of prayer to God, that reminder was a real encouragement to me. Why? Because it forced me to confront those thoughts. Asking myself:

Q. Why could my book possibly be ‘bad’?

A. Because it’s fantasy? (The doubts say.)

BUT fantasy books are some of the most moving books I have read!

Q. Why would it harm people?

A. It wouldn’t – if my message is of love, forgiveness, sacrifice and grace, how could it be discouraging?

These realisations snapped me out of those worries for a while, and while I’m sure they will come up again, I have the weapons to fight against them. To stand firm against the doubts, the ‘what ifs’, the fears, the gnawing voice that tells me this is somehow irrevocably wrong.

Me finalising my last-minute edits before the editors got to it.

It encourages me that maybe those doubts, fears, what-ifs, not only aren’t of God, but in fact simply of myself, my own anxiety. Or, they might even be the enemy trying to distract or deter me.

This was reinforced for me this morning, as I read 1 Peter 4:10-11:

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

What wonderful words – if you’ve been given a gift, USE IT, and to GOD’S GLORY.

I think that can be done both with allegory, and more subtle themes and messages – but that’s a tangent.

For now I’ll keep moving forward, forcing myself from my comfort zone, ignoring the voice in my head that wants me to do nothing with my life, my time.

All this is especially timely I think, as the editors are getting started with my manuscript today. I’m pretty excited, and really nervous, to hear what they think. I’ve been advised it should be a couple of weeks before I have the first round of edits back.

The great thing is I’ve been able to raise the concerns/questions I have about the manuscript beforehand too, so they can keep it in mind. Great right?

So how about you? Have you ever struggled with whether you “should” or “could” do something? How did you figure out what to do?

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