“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
My dad always used to say that as a writer you have to scream onto the page so the reader can hear a whisper. That is how strong the emotion you put into your writing needs to be. And emotion can only be that strong if it’s real and vulnerable. It has to be honest, a snapshot of reality, connectable. In fact, some would argue raw emotion is the driving force of any great story.
What is story without truth?
When I first started writing I was young, barely a preteen, discovering the world through the lens of fiction. Everything I read influenced the way I wrote. I was simply copying down what I was observing because I didn’t have anything else to say yet. I hadn’t acquired a stock of life experiences to draw from.
As I grew and life began to throw lightning bolts at me, I started to understand what bleeding on the page really was. And the more lightning I received, the scarier bleeding on the page felt. What if people reject my truth? What if they laugh at me, toss me aside? What if what I believe truth to be is a joke?
Because the problem with putting yourself in a novel, with being authentic to your truth, with bleeding on the page, is that you then have to hand those pages to the world. It basically feels like giving them a part of your soul while saying, “Here world, read this, judge, and let me know what you think . . . about my soul.”
It’s terrifying, and from speaking to seasoned writers—and transforming into one myself—it never gets easier. So then, maybe the sensible thing is to avoid bleeding on the page at all? I’ve tried this route too. It takes me to a place with dry, repurposed plots and characters no one can relate to. In essence, it reads like the magic of fiction is missing.
Because the authors (and maybe that’s some of you) are the magic of fiction. Remove yourself to protect against the criticism, and you take out what makes story so powerful. What takes a reader from comfortable to the edge of their seats, from skimming to engrossed, from emotionless to bawling their eyes out.
The vulnerability of the author and the experiences they bring to the pages set the story ablaze. They scream against the pages, throwing themselves into each sentence, and the reader hears the whispers and is moved. As Stephen King said, “You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”
As a writer I am constantly challenging myself to be more transparent with my work. I take myself into my dark places, the ones I am afraid to show people, and I write about them openly in hopes that someone reading will feel it. That is the harder road to take, but it’s a road that ends with reward. Because anytime you are authentic, you channel magic. Story magic.
And all we are is story. Each of us with a past, present, and future; beliefs, hopes, dreams, fears. We are living, breathing stories, unique and waiting to be told. That’s why we connect with authenticity—because we are the same. We can relate to fear, to pain, to joy. Stories connect us to one another. They often make us feel less alone and more understood. They can show us something new, remind us of something we had forgotten, challenge us to change.
They can be like a portal, allowing us to connect to strangers we never would have encountered otherwise. It’s one of the many reasons I love telling stories. As you read what I’ve written, you are feeling what I’ve felt, seeing my world. The story is impacting you, and it has most definitely impacted me. It connects us. It becomes real-life magic.
I try to place a part of myself in everything I write. To leave emotions there, so that the reader feels them when they are holding one of my books in their hands. Otherwise, why write at all?
About Rachelle Dekker
The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair.
Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”—one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.
But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned—a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.