"But it really happened."
Sigh. "Do you know what we editors call it when a character is faced with that many compounded disasters?"
I flipped through my mental glossary of writer terms. None seemed to fit. "No. What?"
"The Die Hard Series Syndrome."
The editor smiled. "We also call it ridiculous."
"I thought so, too, when I was going through it."
Maybe the series of disastrous family events that started a year ago won't make it into one novel. I may have to spread them out. And I am. A speaking event or two or three. A collection of devotional thoughts. This blog post. Anecdotes for a non-fiction book.
In the September 2011 issue of "The Writer" magazine, Luke Reynolds proposed that it's becoming harder and harder not to see pain as a necessity for creating truth with words--even in writing fiction. He quoted author John Gardner (On Becoming a Novelist) as saying, "Art begins in a wound."
At twelve years old, Gardner accidentally ran over his younger brother with a tractor on their family farm. The younger boy died from the injuries. Gardner battled guilt and depression, but grew to write with a depth of empathy the untouched fail to reach.
"A writer must be able to translate pain--his own or another's--into compassion," writes Reynolds. "As soon as compassion begins, so can creation."
Turning pain into art is what God does every day with the soul that looks to Him. We couch it in different words--words like redeem, reclaim, repurpose...
When we look for the epicenter of pain in great books, we'll find it, there within the art. What seemed coarse or harsh or piercing is rearranged to make beauty.
The tatters, the noxious weeds, the broken pieces, the disappointments of life are the Artist's tools.
I applaud Mr. Reynolds's conclusion to his observations. It is a conclusion that gets to the core of the role of pain or distress in equipping us to write authentically and with meaning. He said, "While Gardner is right that art begins with a wound, we might add that it ends with a way forward--a crack where hope seeps in."
QUESTION FOR YOU: God is in the process of sculpting beauty from shards and difficulty in our lives. How far into the process is He with your story? Do you see the art yet? Is your experiencing being redeemed to impact someone else's story?