Friday, February 1, 2013

GUEST BLOGGER {Shelly Hickman}: Writing from Experience

Author Shelly Hickman is here today talking about writing from personal experiences and how it affects both authors and readers.

As a writer, one often draws from personal experience when putting pen to paper, (or more likely, fingers to keyboard). But when writing a piece that is wholly centered on something that took place in your life, well, that can be a little unnerving.

Writing autobiographically, even when presented as fiction, is kind of scary. You believe there’s value in sharing your story, and hope that readers will gain something from what you’ve been through, even if it’s simply a better understanding of some small aspect of life. And when readers connect with your story, it’s fantastic. But of course, there’s the other side of the coin, when a reader doesn’t get or like what you’ve written. That’s a hard pill to swallow under any circumstances, but when the writing comes from a deep, personal place . . . ouch. It smarts a little bit more than if you had written entirely from your imagination.

Your experience, your message, is what compelled you to share from the start, and at the very least, writing from that place is often therapeutic, cathartic. The best you can do is stay true to your message, no matter what it may be, and expect that there will be those who will like it, those who won’t, and those who just won’t understand. All you can do is take joy in the praise, if you’re fortunate enough to receive it, and choose to learn and grow from the criticisms.
When approaching life's problems, Sophie sees in black and white. That is, when they're someone else's problems. So when it comes to her sister, Sophie is sure she has all the answers, and offers them without hesitation. If only her sister would listen.

Then, through a series of chance encounters, she meets Sam, who is witty, kind, and downright unflappable. Sophie has the overwhelming sense that she's known him before, and as a relationship builds between them, odd visions invade her mind. Though she tries to dismiss them, their persistence will not allow it.

As someone who is quick to judge others, she is intrigued by Sam's ability to accept people as they are. She begins to see him as a role model, but try as she may, his accepting nature is difficult to emulate.

Will Sophie ever be able to put her hasty judgments aside and realize not every problem has a simple solution?
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Believe. A message that still taunts her years after the passing of her daughter. In the days of her daughter's illness, she considered herself a seeker, open to the possibilities of prayer and faith. Now cynical and guarded, she is forced to reexamine her beliefs and relive her past when an old love resurfaces, with a sick child of his own. Believe is a story that examines fractures to our foundations in the face of tragedy. It is a story that asks if prayers are always answered, but often in ways we do not see.