Thursday, October 14, 2010

How you can win through writing


He worked for me and I trusted him. I treated him like everyone else. Back then, twenty years ago, I trusted most everyone. I lived in small town USA. That’s how we were. That’s how I was.

When I realized who I was dealing with, it was too late. So began a period of stalking lasting on and off for years. A spell in the county jail stopped his worst behaviors but not everything.

Even as I type this, I wonder if he’s found me.

Sometimes events in our life alter us for good and sometimes they just change us.

Every now and then, the emotions I experienced back then resurface. I taste the acid terror and remember the gut-wrenching panic when I realized he could destroy my family.

As a writer, I can use all of these emotions—I can channel them into a realistic story.

And that’s exactly what I try to do.

Not one moment in my life has been wasted. Not one. As a writer, we get to recycle, revise and reclaim everything we’ve gone through. Good and bad.

That’s how I win.

Are you using your life experiences to enhance your writing?

49 comments:

Jessica Nelson said...

Yep, I try to!

That's completely freaky. So sorry to hear about that person and I hope you continue to be safe from him.

Candyland said...

Almost always! It's unavoidable, actually...

Hope Filled Living said...

I love this. This is so true...I have been able to use my experiences, good and bad to create the book projects I am working on now. None of it is wasted. Thank you for reminding me of this because sometimes when we have a really life altering experience we tend to only see that and not the good that can come from it through your emotions and creativity.
Mary

Nehha N Josshi said...

That is what fuels our writing,,,, for most of us:)

Janna Qualman said...

Oh, Terri, wow. That's a story.

I agree, all our experiences (good and bad) can shape our craft, and we should seize that opportunity. It's cathartic, therapeutic, and enriches the writing so well.

Heather Sunseri said...

oh, wow, Terri. I hate to hear about your experience. But you are right, we, as writers, use our experiences to bring life to our stories.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I'm sorry this horror occured in your past--I hope it stays there.

I try to eek every ounce out of my experiences--good and otherwise, so others can grow from them.

Love
Jen

irishoma said...

Hi Terri,
At first I thought you were writing fiction then realized your experience was true. How terrifying. I can't imagine.

In answer to your question: I do use my life experiences to enhance my writing. Some of the more painful ones I don't tread into easily, though.

Donna Volkenannt
http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Absolutely I use my life experiences.

Horrible you went through this.

I can relate in an unusual way. There's a reason I never indicate my location.
~ Wendy

Susan Roux said...

Wonderful! You had me hooked.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Oh Terry, how frightening!

I've used my experiences to infuse life into my characters. I want readers to say, "yeah, that's exactly how I felt when I went through that situation."

As a reader, the way a character came through a tough time has occasionally given me new perspective and hope.

You're right. We win when we don't allow our hard times to defeat us but use them to help others.

Blessings,
Susan

Susan Panzica - EternityCafe said...

Powerful writing. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. I do believe that God never wastes a hurt, and He will use the experience in your life or in someone else's to develop Christlikeness.
I find it hard to write about some of my life experiences because if I do, it will hurt some people that, through His grace, I have forgiven. And, no matter how veiled, it would be a stumbling block for them to come to the Lord.
Maybe I will write it privately. But not yet...

Shirley said...

I'm sorry about the experience you had. I agree...the emotions of such experiences meld into our writing.

Rhonda Schrock said...

Wow, Terri! Janna's right - that is a story.

You better believe I use my life experiences. Almost every single week. That's what people identify with; the common emotions, the highs and lows, the shared experiences. We get the pleasure and privilege of putting it into words, and they go, "Yes! That's exactly how it is! I just wasn't able to say it like that."

Melissa Marsh said...

Oh my. What an ordeal!

Yes, I use my personal experiences all the time. I think we must if we are going to create a genuine story.

Ann Best said...

You and I are definitely on the same wave length. We've had powerful experiences in our lives that we use in our writing!! Not sure that I want to be stalked, though. The good and the bad: not wasted. They mold us spiritually.

YOUR kind comments on my posts make me feel so good!!!
Ann

Diane Marie Shaw said...

So sorry your life had to be marred by a situation like that.

I use my characters to help myself grow. Pushing them to do and say what I don't have the courage to say.
My life hurts do come out in my writing, I guess that is what gives it life.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

That's scary! But also amazing that you're taking that experience and using it for something else--something better.

Lin Floyd said...

wow, it seems we can't keep our life experiences out of our writing-they always intrude....

Carol J. Garvin said...

Great topic, Terri! It took years for me to realize this. I journalled about the difficult experiences, which was therapeutic, but I didn't know how to go beyond that to extract any good from them. When I stopped hiding the words, your "recycle, revise and reclaim" concept took over. I haven't stopped writing since! Recycling the experiences is creating positives out of negatives.

Connie Arnold said...

Personal experiences really do make a powerful impact on our writing. Going through something terrible like the stalking and other life events certainly affect emotions and how you write. I love what you say about a writer being able to recycle, revise and reclaim what has happened.

Amie B said...

oh absolutely! sometimes it's our only vindication.

Kara said...

I know how frightening your situation must have been, but you are right we can use that in our writing. I love that about writing, it's like nothing in our life that we experience goes to waste:)

T. Anne said...

I just want to hug you! We have a big and awesome God who watches over you. And you're right you can use all of this!

Jolene Perry said...

There's something in everything I write that's all me. All my experience, twisted into the new story.

Sandra Heska King said...

Oh, Terri. I felt panic rising as I read this. To be able to relive those emotions is scary--and to recycle them is a gift. Hugs to you.

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Oh my stars! What a terrifying experience!!!

Praise Jesus that you came through it!

I think the key it so write what you know! I try to channel my experience and the things that God lays on my heart. There are times when a thought will enter into my mind and then I just know I have to get to my keyboard and get it down in writing.

One day I hope to be as far along as you are, maybe in a few years when the girl child is off at collage and I have a bit more free time on my hands....

Blessings
R

Lydia Kang said...

That's so scary. I kinda had a stalker once to but I never thought of using those emotions. We have a wealth of experiences to draw from, don't we?
Great post, and I'm so glad (and hope very much) that you are safe now.

Julie Musil said...

Terri, this gave me chills. Wow.

Yes, I use it all...the good, bad, embarrassing, all of it. You're so right when you say none of it is wasted.

Jennifer Lane said...

There was a scene in the movie Parenthood talking about how life is a rollercoaster, and your post made me think of that. Life sure does have its ups and downs! I'm glad that the police were involved in this stalking case and I hope you know you aren't alone in trusting someone who ended up not being trustworthy. It sounds like you're feeling stronger now, but that sucks that you still have to be vigilant against his presence in your life.

I definitely use the good and bad in my writing. The bad makes for much more effective writing at times, I've found. But I like to ride that rollercoaster and bring it back to the good too.

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh yeah! I don't have any experience as terrifying as the one you've experienced, but the big things in my life - I am for sure using them in my novels.

kathy taylor said...

Remembering my great-grandmother and her Seminole ways and making a fictional character. I'm getting ready to blog about it.

Sally said...

Writing what you know is great although what I know seems mundane and often awkward. I feel more confident in my make believe world.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Terri, you have become an inspiration for me. You have gone through so much yet you are full of life and brimming with faith and optimism. Lots of love and hugs. I adore your spirit.

Yes, I try to use my life experiences in my writing.

Janet Johnson said...

Wow. Scary! But I love how you turn it around and use it. You definitely win that way.

Nancy said...

What a horrible, creepy thing to have happen. I'm glad you were protected from this person. It's great that you made something good out of it by using it in writing.

I do feel that most of my feelings and traumas come out somewhere in my writing.

Cheryl Klarich said...

That's compelling!
I want to read the novel thriller...
Bless you.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Writing from the heart... that's it.

Doris

Kathryn Magendie said...

I have hidden things in the Graces novels - because I either don't want to talk about them, or I am protecting someone(s). But everything is somehow used, every experience, I suppose.

Although, some things I do not write about because I don't want to give the power back to that person(s) ...don't want them to have any part of me or to be a part of my work. By omission, they are powerless.

Linda O'Connell said...

My greatest successes have come from writing personal essays and strong poetry based on events in my life. People want to read the good, the bad, and the ugly, as it connects us. No one particular event defines me, so I tell the truth and disregard judgement of others.

Deb Shucka said...

Laughing at this question since my life experiences are my writing. I think as writers our stories are the strongest if we're able to claim every part of our lives - even the ones that hurt or are ugly in some way.

Rose Cooper said...

such a compelling post! Yes, I think our writing is strongest when it comes from our experiences.

Lynn said...

Definitely. Somehow it helps life's tough experiences become barable.
I'm glad you found a way to turn your experience from fear to power.

Lynda Young said...

This is so true. It's important to use everything. But I think we do anyway, even when we don't realise it.

Thanks for your prayers.

Lyn

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Oh my goodness, I was sitting on the edge of my seat while reading this. I'm so sorry... and bothered by it all. Yes, we can use all personal experience for gain, but some experiences (like this one) I think I'd rather do without.

Mercy me.

peace~elaine

Gaia said...

Not doing a very good job ... but trying to :)

Maria I. Morgan said...

Great post, Terri! It was actually as a result of a car accident that I really sensed God's call to write. Bizarre, I know. But sometimes it's the things that shake us up that God can use the most. Thanks for the reminder! Have a beautiful week! :)

Jackee said...

Such a positive way to look at it! I try to drudge up those things that have caused negative feelings too. Fear, dispair, anger, and etc. are the counterbalance to the triumph we should feel at the end of a book. It's good to know what we're talking about in all the emotions of our stories! :o)

Jackee said...

P.S. So sorry about the stalker! I hope he never finds you again.