Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Why I Write by Heather Gray

Writing is a funny thing, isn’t it? Every writer has a deeply personal relationship with writing, but no two writer-writing relationships are identical.

Why do I write?

I write because I breathe.

I write because I don’t know how not to write.

God speaks to me through my characters, the ways they deal with life, and the fears they hide from one another.

I had a character a few years ago who had to face the possibility of permanent disability, and he struggled to find his footing with God in the midst it. I finished writing a heartfelt scene where Holden explained his complex emotions about God, and as soon as I tapped the last period into place, something I’d been wrestling with finally made sense. Everything fell into place, and I heard that still, small voice.

Ah. Now you understand.

Writing is a lot like looking into a mirror. We write powerful scenes for our characters because we harbor powerful emotions. We can make readers cry because we’ve shed tears. We all have stuff going on inside of us that we don’t completely understand. By God’s grace, I often find myself accidentally writing that stuff into the lives of my characters. It’s through writing that I’m able to gaze into the mirror and see the truths within my own heart.

In the case of that scene I mentioned earlier, I had struggled with my feelings toward God following the death of my daughter. I wasn’t angry at Him, but I was…something. Finding a way to articulate that character’s emotions — even though our situations were completely different — showed me the feelings I’d been unable to voice about my loss and about God.

As writers, we often say that God is going to use a story He’s given us to touch the heart and soul of someone specific. We can also, though, lose sight of the fact that sometimes, one of the people whose life God is going to change through a story is the writer.

When we write the stories that God has given us, we walk in obedience and faith. We trust that God knows what He’s doing with the story, and we follow Him as the story unfolds. It’s in that special place that the magic happens. The story comes together better than we ever imagined. The characters are real, the scenes come alive, and the ending is strong and satisfying. Both we and the readers are better for having experienced the story.

As a writer, is there a better feeling out there?

I write because I breathe. I write because I don’t know how not to write.

I write because, through writing, God works on my heart and in my life. He holds up the mirror so I can see the things about myself that I’d rather avoid, and He helps me understand what working out my own salvation (Phil 2:12) looks like. That’s not something I ever want to give up.

What about you? Why do you write?


Heather Gray loves coffee, God, her family, and laughter – not necessarily in that order! She writes approachable characters who, through the highs and lows of life, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.  And, yeah, her books almost always have someone who's a coffee addict.  Some things just can't be helped.

Despite their different lives and situations, Heather’s characters have something in common. They're all flawed...but loved anyway.