Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Contemplations on Vulnerability and Writing by Sondra Kraak

About seven years ago, I endeavored to write a romance. Wanting to grow in craft, I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers association and submitted chapters for critique.

Cue the anxiety and negative self-talk.

Strangely, I don’t remember those first critiques. What lingers in my memory is the overwhelming sense of vulnerability at pulling back the curtain on something intimate and private, a romance. Five published books later, I’d like to say that I’ve grown as a person—and surely, I have—but the fact remains: romance-writing is a vulnerable endeavor.

Vulnerability: The What
A sense of exposure and defenseless. A state of being uncovered and revealed or open to attack.

Vulnerability: The Why
The first man and woman lived “naked and unashamed” in the Garden of Eden: a beautiful picture of exposure free from disgrace. But the picture changes when they pursue their own path to wisdom rather than trust the wisdom and truth of their Creator. Immediately, with eyes opened, they reached for covering.

Enter awareness of nakedness. Enter vulnerability. Enter shame and the fear that something is wrong with me.

Vulnerability and Intimacy
That fear, something is wrong with me, has potential to keep us from deep friendships because friendships are made of intimacy, and intimacy is born out of exposing who you are to someone and in return, finding belonging. You don’t get intimacy without vulnerability.

So it follows that you don’t get romance without extra doses of vulnerability. If we’re going to be honest and mature, the deepest act of intimacy between two lovers requires quite a bit of layer-peeling, all the way down until only skin-to-skin and breath-to-breath remains.

For those of us suffering from the human condition (hello, everyone!), allowing ourselves to be exposed for the sake of relationship is very difficult. We are shame-bearers who seek to hide in order to protect ourselves from rejection.

Vulnerability and Writing Romance
Writing romance is essentially writing the story of Adam and Eve in reverse. We start with “something is wrong with me, and I need to cover up,” and we end with, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” And in between is a lot of layer-peeling work (with snazzy dialogue, preferably).

Every time I tell a romance, I’m keenly aware of my own leaf-weaving tendencies. I relive the angst of falling in love.
Will he laugh at who I am?
What will he do when he sees my flaws and abnormalities?
Can I truly trust him?

Yet every time the hero falls for the heroine, tells her she’s beautiful and that he loves her as she is, I experience the healing of my love story all over again. Romance writing is, for me, deep, therapeutic work.

Vulnerability and The Defender
But vulnerability doesn’t stop when the writing of the romance is done. The releasing of it into the world provokes another round of reaching for leaves. When the book moves from computer to Kindle, it can feel like I’m marching around naked.
When the book I've written moves from computer to Kindle, it can feel like I’m marching around naked. @SondraKraak @MaryAFelkins #writing #vulnerability #SeriouslyWrite

Combating this exposure doesn’t happen by covering up with leaves of positive self-talk. It happens by hiding behind Someone strong and capable of warding off rejection and condemnation: our savior and defender, Jesus Christ. As artists of the word, we may feel exposed, but truth is, Jesus exposed himself for our sakes, and He is the one who takes the scorn and rejection, bearing it “in his body on the cross” (I Peter 2:24).

This is good news to our feeble hearts. The final word over us does not come from readers, authors, or publishers. It comes from our Heavenly Father who accepts the work of Jesus on our behalf and calls us His children.

The final word over us does not come from readers, authors, or publishers. It comes from our Heavenly Father who accepts the work of Jesus on our behalf and calls us His children.@SondraKraak @MaryAFelkins #writing #vulnerability #SeriouslyWrite

Sondra Kraak, a native of Washington State, grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, Instagramming about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women's Fiction Award. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook and join her newsletter for a free short story and information about special devotional series.

Connect with Sondra
Instagram www.instagram.com/sondrakraakauthor
Facebook www.facebook.com/SondraKraakAuthor
Website www.sondrakraak.com

Four Dreams of You

Unfulfilled dreams have left Grace Thomas vowing not to let her imagination roam wild again. Resigning herself to the realistic dream of owning a dress shop, she accepts a position as a housekeeper at Monaghan Lumber Camp in order to earn funds. The plan is simple, easy, and safe. But Torin Monaghan is not. The reclusive brother who seems indifferent to her presence is ironically the one stirring up her imagination once again.

Torin Monaghan will not be deterred from his passion to preserve the beauty of nature. Even if it appears as if he’s going against his family. Even if the quirky and wistful seamstress invading his space is proving a distraction. To his frustration, Grace Thomas is not easily dismissed, and neither are the ways she’s opening his eyes to a different sort of beauty.

When past threats bring new trouble to Pine Creek, Torin and Grace must become vulnerable—to each other and their community—and through risk, discover that reality is more fulfilling than their dreams.

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