Writing Hurts



Writing what an author knows isn’t simple. Writing hurts. (Tweet That!)

Has anyone out there experienced a broken heart? Rejection? Betrayal? Desertion? 


How about the death of one so dear you can’t imagine living another day yourself? 

Or the burial of all your dreams and plans alongside your child? 

Smith_Wilson-Lee_gravestone_79bd5963-8773-4a3b-9d4b-b9aaba3d09e6Don’t we long to move from the shock and denial of grief to the ultimate stage of acceptance? Who wants to go back?

How does revisiting pain sit with you as either a writer or a reader? Can you watch such memories morph from black and white to Technicolor without flipping off the switch? How does any author set it out there in all its bitterness and leave it for the world to worried-girl-413690_960_720view?

Writers have a choice when writing. They can revisit innocence, fulfillment, success, love, laughter alone … all the aspects of life that bring us joy and peace … and experience delight again and again and again. 

grief-1022032_960_720Or they can tackle hard places. For words to touch the depths of readers’ hearts, authors must revisit guilt, shame, misery, dissatisfaction, failure, loss, lovelessness, loneliness, depression, grief, and tears. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder *[Public Domain]

As a writer of historical fiction, I appreciate authors like Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote Little House in the Big Woods and the stories that followed, and Catherine Marshall, who penned Christy

Would the “Little House” stories be remembered today without the struggles involved in homesteading on the prairie? Danger from Indians, illness, death, drought, crop destruction, and the foibles of characters like Nellie Oleson?

What effect would Christy have on readers if Catherine Marshall hadn’t exposed Appalachian poverty, illiteracy, 

Ona's husband George Brooks never advanced far beyond dirt poor.

lack of proper hygiene and medical care, challenges to faith, and the destructive nature of family feuds and revenge?

Such hard realities aren’t easy to consider, dwell on, and communicate. Harder still, the “heart” issues that result: rejection, unworthiness, estrangement, hatred, and grief.

But wrestling in hard places produces richer fare. It shows the depth of light-pathway_1345753_960_720darkness and the desperate need for light. (Tweet That!) It reveals pathways the darkness hid. It brings into focus human frailties and our need for power outside ourselves. 

As an author it isn’t easy to write what I know. It hurts. But it’s rewarding. Because it grows me. It forces me to plug into the only Source of Power outside myself, the Light Himself.

darkness_eye-1359234_960_720So, writers, we must take heart. It’s worth it. And, readers, thank authors who take you to hard and dark places and then scatter the darkness with the Light, who is Jesus. It isn’t easy. It hurts.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12 NIV


*[Public Domain] Laura Ingalls Wilder, circa 1885
Unknown photographer – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2511787
File:Laura Ingalls Wilder cropped sepia2.jpg
Created: circa 1885

2 thoughts on “Writing Hurts

  1. You are so right, Linda! The first book I wrote [Party of One — yet unpublished] was a fictionalization of my life as a widow. Good times made for good stories, but tough times makes them richer.

    1. Because of the dark valley you walked, Clarice, you can write reality into a story and make it richer. Thank you for sharing that with us. I hope you’ll publish it.


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The Oil of Tears

She washed His feet with her tears.

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume [perfumed oil]. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[c] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
Luke 7:36-48 (NIV)

My favorite passage of Scripture is Luke 7:36-48. (Tweet That!) 

I’m that woman. I’m that in need of Jesus. I’m that grateful.

Mother’s little oil tin.

When my brothers and I were growing up and something broke or stopped working, we could always count on one response from our mother: “All it needs is a dab of oil.” (Tweet That!)

We’d groan and continue tinkering with whatever was broken, determined not to give credence to her comment. How silly to think a dab of oil would fix anything. 

Looking back I couldn’t count the times Mother was exactly right. There was the bicycle chain. The frozen doorknob. The castoff pair of pliers. And, most memorable of all, the 16mm movie projector that stopped mid-movie. 

Daddy tried to get it going. Brothers added their two bits.

“All it needs is a dab of oil,” Mother insisted.

We all groaned while the men tried their hands at the frozen parts–again.

Meanwhile, Mother found her trusty little can of oil and returned. “Try this.”

Our responses? Tsks. Rolled eyes. Hands raised in surrender. 

Mother dipped the tip of the can into the projector’s innards. Squeezed. And stepped back. “Try it again.”

A collective sigh and groan. But a push of a button later …

The film advanced. The projector projected. Lo and behold … there on the screen … the movie continued.

Mother slipped from the room, muttering, “Told you all you needed was a dab of oil.”

Decades later I often think of that little can of oil. I think of it when I’m reading Luke 7 also. (Tweet That!) 

alabaster-jarThe sinful woman was broken. She couldn’t go on. So she crumbled at Jesus’ feet. She pulled out her version of Mother’s little oil tin–an alabaster jar of perfume and anointed His feet with the costly oil. 

Something tells me the sweetest aroma came from her tears. And even now He feels them on His feet. (Tweet That!)

According to the Savior, her story of gratitude for the burden of sin Jesus lifted would be told for years to come.

And so it is.

Lord Jesus, we bow at Your feet broken by sin but
put back together by Your righteousness.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


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