About two novels ago, I concluded there was nothing left of me, my own heart, for my characters.
Nothing left to pour "of myself" onto the pages.
You do realize every protagonist is a little bit biographical, in some small way, right? Some experience or emotion of the author plays a role in the character journey.
After nine years of writing full time, I figured my characters wren't very much like me at all.
I'd written all of my insights, revelation and experiences.
But God was about to show me I had a long way to go in mining the depth of my own heart and even further to understand and access the depth of His.
Two days ago while working on the third Royal Wedding novel, "How To Catch A Prince," (a paralyzing premise novel -- more on that later -- or simply email Jim Rubart for an explanation) I pondered the heroine's emotional journey as I walked my little dog around the neighborhood circle.
You see, her twin brother died in Afghanistan. And with his death, the heroine's entire way of life was destroyed.
"You know," she said to the hero, Prince Stephen. "In the end, I just want to know if I loved him well. Did I? I don't know?"
Tears smarted in my eyes as I pondered this scene. Have I loved well?
I thought of my older brother whom I love dearly. But have I loved him well? Meaning, have I given him all I could or just what was convenient for me?
What about my mom, or my other siblings?
Years back I heard the testimony of a man who'd died and stood before the Lord. The Lord asked him, "Did you learn to love?"
The answer, "No," earned the man a trip back to life. Literally.
The story stuck with me over the years but it wasn't until I pondered my heroine's heart that the notion of "Did I love well?" came alive in my heart.
God was teaching me something through my story! Through a fictional character to boot.
A divine grace hit my heart. Grace to understand a wee bit of the love that surpasses knowledge. To "Love well!"
What does it matter what's done to me? What others may have that I don't? Or what injustice may have come my way in life...
Have I loved well?
As I rounded the circle with the little dog in tow, I had a growing desire to love others more than myself, more than promoting myself or seeking favor from men.
It didn't seem to matter if I did more chores around the house than my husband. Or if I gave everyone I loved a present but they didn't so much as say "Thank you."
I had a glimpse into the truth of the dead man's testimony. "Did you learn to love?"
Writing this book has taken me to a new place in my own heart. I want to love well. When I'm called home to glory one day, wouldn't it be grand if the testimony of those who knew me was, "She loved well."
I'm blown away by God's grace in teaching me as I write novels.
Recently I listened to an interview with Bono of U2 fame on Focus on the Family. He said, "I pray all the time for God to bless my work. Then a pastor challenged me. 'Find what God is doing and do that because it's already blessed.'"
So I found God writing novels and I did that... and now I'm blessed.
Not only did I learn something new about God's grace in the arena of love while writing this book, but I was, am, challenged to grow in love.
Paul prays in Ephesians 3:19 "...nd to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God..."
This is incredible. Paul is asking God to let us know the width, length, height and depth of a love immeasurable. His love. A love that surpasses knowledge.
This past week, tapped into that revelation just a little-bitty bit. A love that my head doesn't always understand but one my heart yearns to know.
This is how it should be when we are doing what God is doing, when we are in His will. We gain understanding into the depths of who He is. This is GRACE.
Have I loved well? I don't know but I will make it a life pursuit.
And I learned this while writing a novel.
What lessons or insight have you gained while writing? Or reading?
On sale now, just in time for Christmas, "Once Upon A Prince." $1.99 at your favorite retailer! e-reatiler!
Visit http://rachelhauck.com/books/ for purchase links. :)
With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novels.
She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship for their annual conference. At the fall conference in Indianapolis, she was named ACFW 2013 Mentor of the Year.
She is also the Book Therapist for My Book Therapy.
She lives in Florida, where she is also a worship leader, with her husband and mini schnauzer.
Her novel, The Wedding Dress, was named Romantic Times Inspirational Novel of the Year. Her latest release, Once Upon A Prince, earned starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher's Weekly.
Visit her at www.rachelhauck.com