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May 06, 2008



Everyone has his place in the darkness. Born into it. You have earned the "right" to portray it as you've seen it, Mary, in all its stifling blackness. But, as you said, you've come out of the darkness into His light, the only place where it exists.
As with most novels, some cannot handle the stories which expose true darkness. Their light flickers when they read them because of the insecurity in their light, they're fragile and shaken by the threat of that darkness either emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually.
You must write the stories God has for you to communicate, allowing the Spirit to determine which lines you may cross to reveal His truth.

BJ Hamrick

This is beautiful, Mary. And so true.


I have heard this described recently (not in a writing context but I think it fits) as living in the "creative tension." I think it's human nature to swing one way or the other but where it happens is in the balance between the two. You put this so beautifully (as well your writing is an example)!

Mary E. DeMuth

Nicole, great points. And going to the Spirit to lead me to write is where I want to be.

BJ: Thanks so much.

Dianne: Love that, "creative tension."

J. Mark Bertrand

This reminds me, Mary, of something I read recently, where a musician lamented the fact that, with the disappearance of the psalter from worship, the church was losing sung access to a whole range of human emotional expression, from the heights to the depths, which was being replaced by something more abridged, a psychology derived from some place other than Scripture. I think a similar case could be made when it comes to the way that "tone" is moderated in evangelical art. To be honest, I'm worried more by the tone police than by the content restrictions, because there is a rich tradition of great art produced under similarly restricted circumstances to draw upon, but there is no history of great art produced with tonal constraints.

I'm not saying that every psalm has to end the way Psalm 137 does in order to be "authentic," just that we could never have a truly representative book of the heart if no psalm were allowed to end on such a note. Couldn't we say the same for books? Taken as a whole, we'd like to see a certain fulness on the evangelical bookshelf, but that doesn't mean it has to be packed into every title. You can have a Book of Job on the shelf because there's a Book of Ruth, too, and you can have a Psalm 137 because there's a Psalm 51 and a Psalm 150. Taken as a whole, they show the full picture, but no single one of them is expected to do it all -- and if it were, the result (paradoxically) would be not fullness but thinness.

Merrie Destefano

I have a tendency to "dance in the dark" a bit while I'm writing. I've come to the conclusion that not all people are going to like what I write. My stories will draw certain readers. I’m reminded of the scripture in Luke, where a certain debtor who had been forgiven much, loved much.

Most of the time, I’m writing to my fellow debtors, many of whom have not been forgiven yet.

So for me, darkness is part of that great debt, it’s the sin that lurks in the shadows. I also believe my writing is a way to rescue that one lost sheep. Alone on darkened hillside cliff. Scared and crying and longing for hope.

So, I guess I understand the dance in the dark. For me, it’s necessary.

Mary E. DeMuth

That's a fascinating view, Mark. I sometimes feel bad when someone says, "I read for escape, which is why I don't read your books." Perhaps that's part of America's tendency to live fully for that which is entertaining.

That's okay. Every reader is different.

But recently, I had an interaction that confirmed something for me. I spoke at a book club. The lady next to me said, with anger in her voice, "Why did you have to have Mara be molested? She had enough neglect. Why that too?"

But later in the evening, with a quiet voice, she said. "I was sexually abused. And I never told a soul. Which meant my sister was abused too. We still don't talk about it."

My "dark" fiction opened a door of honesty and potential healing for this woman. I could've been nicer to my character, not made her go through the hell she went through. But then this woman might not have ever shared her story, albeit hesitantly.

Mary E. DeMuth

Merrie, that's a beautiful way to put it. Thanks.

Kristi Holl

Terrific discussion here--and it sheds some light on comments I got in my critique group last week. "Your main character is depressed," someone said. Well, yeah, but she has a right, and she's struggling with telling the truth, and it's not easy, and she's certainly not being rewarded for it. I found out later that my main character had struck a chord with someone in the group who was also trying to "come out of hiding." Sometimes our truth gets too close to those still trying to keep up a front. I can't read escape fiction because it feels so "unreal" to me. I'm glad there's a market for everything!



I've often wondered the same thing. I echo your feelings. How in the world can I have balance? I sort of looked at it like telling a testimony- whether a real testimony or fictional- the light will certainly show itself in the right timing in the book. =) I'm sure readers will know that something AWESOME is bound to happen to totally redeem the character who seems to be "going thru". I understand completely how you feel.


Elizabeth M Thompson

Real life is messy and sometimes dark and frightening, but in it we discover a yearning for the light.

If our writing reflects only the light, it misses the need, the yearning, the motivation that keeps the reader moving toward the end of the book.

Keep writing real!

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