22 October 2009

Things We Don't Want to Remember

The thing about memories is that they aren't all warm and fuzzy. Some of them we'd rather forget. Some of them we can't forget. Maybe it something that was done to us, something that wasn't our fault. Or maybe it's something we did. Often we try to hide those memories from others. We feel ashamed, scared. Or maybe these memories just speak too directly about our hearts, leaving us vulnerable. Maybe they make us hurt.

Do your characters have any secrets?

I set my WIP aside recently in order to edit (again) the novel I completed last Christmas. At first I wasn't too excited about this prospect because I didn't want to discover just how much work my story needed--or worse, that now with more space between me and the novel, I'd find that it wasn't any good. But my time with this story has been so sweet, even when mentally tiring. It's like re-uniting with an old friend. I loved this novel. I still do. So being able to re-enter that world, to rewrite things and to meet the characters again has filled me with unexpected joy.

One of my characters knows all too well the devastating power of a long kept secret. And like many who've chosen to remain silent, she's found that the consequences have only increased as the years have gone by. The price of her silence is great; she fears that it is more than she can pay. Yet if she doesn't speak, healing is impossible. If her secret stays hidden, those most important to her will suffer. There will be tremendous grief and--just to make it seem very epic--all will be lost.

It's not fun to think about painful things. I made light of it on Tuesday, laughing about injuries. Sometimes laughter does help. Talking about it does too. Telling those we love the truth can help make us feel safe again. It's then we realize that all is not lost.

It's like Jesus says in John 8: "And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free". Freedom cannot exist in lies. And even if it isn't a lie--if it's just something so painful we can't bare to speak of it and would give anything just to make it disappear--we still need to break the silence. Healing cannot come from keeping things bottled up, even if it's something we don't want others to know.

But it can be so scary to tell the truth, to reveal that vulnerable part of ourselves.

Sometimes remembering isn't fun. But we need to do it. And the great thing is that once light has come, there is no place for darkness. Speaking the truth about what happened can diminish its power.

Do your characters need to remember? Do you? May we all--real life writers and the characters in our heads--find the courage to do so.


Thanks for the well wishes for my back! It's still a little twingy as I write this (Wednesday night), but not near as bad as it was!

27 comments:

  1. "speaking the truth about what happened can diminish its power"... wow, that really touched home with me tonight. I am trying to unlock the truth within myself...and open to door to freedom. Thanks for the post.

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  2. Gosh, tell me about it. I know! I just wrote a memoir. A very HONEST memoir :)

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  3. I don't like to think about my own secrets or hurts, but I force my characters to. LOL! Secrets are great for inner conflict, imo.

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  4. This is a huge thing/point of conflict my MC is dealing with. Great to write about it in a post.
    ~ Wendy

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  5. "Atonement" is one recent book I can think of where keeping a secret creates a destructive force.

    My characters (since I write murder mysteries) have secrets that they're willing to kill to cover up. It's true that if we were just open about truth, then we can avoid so much negativity. Of course, I'd have a hard time coming up with plots, then!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  6. My entire novel is about something that many people would treat as a secret! My MC isn't going to let it eat her up, though, and she's not going to forget.

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  7. Both my main character and a supporting one have secrets, and they both will affect the outcome of the book. I love that! :)

    Glad your back is better!

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  8. My YA series is chock full of secrets, most carried by supporting characters that the m.c. meets as the story progresses.

    My current WIP has many secrets, some held by the m.c., most held by supporting characters, and many held by a character who's already dead.

    I love secrets in books! The promise of discovery is what makes me continue reading to the very end.

    Jen

    PS: Glad you're back is better :)

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  9. The premise of my story is the pain that originates from secrets. Our heavenly Father desires to set us free. I love the fact that He loves us enough to break the chains of bondage and give sweet relief.

    Happy writing Kristen!

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  10. My characters do not have any secrets. Yet. But that can change as I will use them again in future books.

    Stephen Tremp

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  11. My characters have a few. And, yes, so do I. :)

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  12. Wow--sounds like a lot of secrets! I like that... I like it when a character comes out with something that changes the entire scope of the story. So fun! Happy writing to all!

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  13. Hey! I resemble that remark :)

    Thanks for this food for thought today!
    Bina

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  14. I definitely have a lot of secrets that are difficult to express. It comes with being a private person! Secrets in fiction are great for conflict and my characters usually have them. :)

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  15. I don't have many secrets since I wear my heart on my sleeve. I think this makes me an overall happy person.
    I think, however, this is just what some of my characters may need to "improve" their suffering, or at least the writing of it. Great reminder. Thanks!

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  16. My MC has a huge secret that will not unravel until later on in the book. She and I are basically the same person. I wanted to write my memoir without hurting those involved in real life, so I integrated my life into my MC. My closest friends said it was one of the best forms of healing. I hope they're right!
    Thanks for this post Kristen!

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  17. Great post, very though provoking. I think to write three-dimensional characters we have to sometimes remember some difficult things. I find when I'm deeply involved with a book and its characters it's like I'm discovering all sorts of secrets about myself that I wouldn't otherwise have realised.

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  18. I agree, Roz. Often I wonder if my life is somehow intertwined with my characters, even if the actual details are difficult. It's amazing what they teach me. The same is true for reading. Maybe that's why Story is so enchanting.

    It definitely is, Ellie. I wish you well and that God will continue to reveal things to you as you write!

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  19. Great post, Kristen. Exactly what I needed to hear this morning.

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  20. You jsut gave me a whole new plot twist!! Thank you!!!

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  21. In my new WIP it's all based on secrets. I think I'm going to have tons of fun manipulating the truth a bit. Thank goodness I have this outlet, lol. Apparently I'm capable of no good. ;)

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  22. Great post. Secrets of the past can produce juicy conflict in the present. What novel doesn't benefit from that?

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  23. Kristen, I hope you continue on the mend. Back pain is no fun.

    I don't know that I have secrets, but definitely memories that still haunt me. I do need to learn how to deal with them, but it's funner to make my characters deal with their memories, instead. :)

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  24. Great post. Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment and following. Your blog is amazing! I'm going to use a secret in my next novel...thank you!

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  25. The secrets we keep to ourselves also often don't sound nearly as bad once we've brought them out in the light. It's as if we give them power by storing them away.

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  26. Thanks, Stina! I was so excited to find your blog! I look forward to getting to know you!

    Stephanie--that's a great point! I think most of their power is found in silence.

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