Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Lessons I Learned from Writing a Character Just Like Me by Carla Laureano

Every character I write has some bit of myself in him or her. Many times, when I’m writing someone who is utterly unlike myself, I give them a few of my own characteristics, just so I can relate to the character better. But this time around, Analyn Sanchez—the heroine of The Solid Grounds Coffee Company—has more than just a few similarities to me: she’s the cautionary-tale version of myself.

At the beginning of the story, Ana is a high-powered crisis publicist, dealing with clients who are various degrees of unsavory to repair their tarnished reputations. Every element of her life is scheduled from morning to night, all planned to give her the most efficient, perfect day possible. Of course, if you’re familiar with how these stories go, you know that doesn’t last long . . . and it’s the crumbling of her seemingly perfect life that helps launch her into the story (and, of course, into the hero’s arms).

It was easy to write Ana because I knew those temptations all too well. I, too, had worked in a corporate discipline that was long on appearance but short on balance. I took that same mind-set into my writing career, packing more into a single day than was actually possible or healthy, especially considering I had small humans at home to keep alive. But over the last several years, I’d gotten that tendency under control. I was taking more time for myself. I was working less, spending more time with family, and focusing on my health. I was on the other side of those issues, which meant that I had the perfect vantage point to write the character.

Or so I thought.

The funny thing about being a writer, especially a Christian writer, is that you start a book thinking it’s for other people, and by the time you’re done, you realize it was mostly for yourself. As I brought the story to a close, I realized that like Ana, I might have eliminated much of the hustle from my daily schedule, but I hadn’t completely dealt with the reasons behind that need for hustle: the quest for excellence that really just represented the desire for control of my own life, the buried belief that my worth was mostly tied up in my accomplishments, the prideful lie that people around me were counting on me to be perfect. Oddly enough, it’s not the first time I’ve written this theme in a book, and yet somehow I still find myself surprised that it applies to me.

I’m praying that this time, the lessons that I learned through writing The Solid Grounds Coffee Company will stick. But I think I finally understand, as Ana comes to in the end, that there’s no shame in being a work in progress.


"...you start a book thinking it’s for other people, and by the time you’re done, you realize it was mostly for yourself." via @CarlaLaureano #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting

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Carla Laureano is the two-time RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye, London Tides, and the Saturday Night Supper Club series. She is also the author of the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

10 comments:

  1. Me, too! "The funny thing about being a writer, especially a Christian writer, is that you start a book thinking it’s for other people, and by the time you’re done, you realize it was mostly for yourself." Oh, yes. I'm always surprised. My current WIP is about my heroine as a newlywed, and I tried to work in some struggles I had with my flaws during those first few years of marriage, thinking I had conquered them. But when I showed a scene to a writing coach, she was able to see the deeper issues behind those flaws that I still struggle with. I'm beginning to think that writing is another avenue of sanctification for the Holy Spirit to use. :)

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    1. I absolutely agree with you there! I've really been enjoying what Madeline L'Engle says about writing as a spiritual discipline. I think it's so true!

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  2. Amazing how our own life seeps into stories. :-)

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    1. Right? I'm writing my 12th book for publication right now... you'd think it would cease to surprise me.

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  3. "The funny thing about being a writer, especially a Christian writer, is that you start a book thinking it’s for other people, and by the time you’re done, you realize it was mostly for yourself."

    Oh, my ... yes! There is a large part of me in every heroine I write. Including my struggles - past and present!

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  4. Interesting! Looking at my writing, I see the themes reflect how I see myself and my faith. I’m not sure my vision is accurate, but how I want to express my beliefs. Thank you, Carla!

    I’m looking forward to reading The Solid Grounds Coffee Company. Having lived in Denver at various times, it was fun to visit the familiar virtual places you included in the first two books of the series. Of course I now want to be a chef and a baker opening my own establishments. Fun books!

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  5. Confession: When I read my devotional, it's not uncommon for me to say, "My hero/heroine really needs to hear this." LOL! Great article, Carla :) Transformation is what I believe God is after in His authors.

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  6. You're a brave woman! I try to leave myself out of my books. lol

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