Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Ink We Use by Joanna Davidson Politano

I had my little brother take my author picture. He did a fabulous job, but I cringed at several of the shots. I looked uncomfortable and fake at the beginning, until he had me smiling and laughing, forgetting he was capturing the moment on (digital) film. Self-forgetfulness feels most comfortable to me, and so does listening to someone’s story rather than sharing my own.

Yet that’s what we’re doing, aren’t we? Sure, our novels are led by a made-up hero, but they’re living out our internal battles, seeking answers to our questions, achieving things we dream about. Sometimes I forget that, in my desire toward self-forgetfulness. It’s easier to teach or comfort or guide our readers, rather than peel back that perfect author shot image and reveal our own heartaches and shame beneath—the everyday sin problems and lack of makeup. It’s easier to talk at people rather than discover for ourselves, and bleed vulnerably on the page for others to see our reality.

But if you want your writing to really grab people, to mean something to them, it has to mean something to you, first. It has to cost you something to create.

We all have wounds—we cannot exist in this world without sustaining at least a few—and that is the ink we need to use to write our novels. It hurts though, doesn’t it? Poking at those wounds that are still trying to scar over, reexamining the ugliness, facing what we’d rather forget—none of that sounds fun, especially if we’re planning on making it public by publishing the result, but I cannot begin to express to you the value of writing this way. Why? Because God can use that.

I’ll tell you something from hard-earned experience. Quit trying to be impressive in your writing, your research, your pithy word choices. Don’t show off your strengths, but humbly express your scars and those raw places you’d rather not show the world. Let them come alive in your story so that Jesus, the glorious one who’s begun healing those scars, can shine through. Writing friends, God cannot shine through your armor—only through the cracks. Don’t be afraid to create stories around them and in showing your weakness, let God display His strength.

God cannot shine through your armor—only through the cracks. via @politano_joanna #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Joanna Davidson Politano writes historical novels of mystery and romance, including her debut Lady Jayne Disappears. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and you can find her at