During mid-June, I had the privilege of watching four baby Chihuahua ravens fledge from a nest that balanced a foot beneath active rails set atop a 20-foot train trestle.
It was a treat to watch the baby ravens test their new, unsteady wings and to see their progress as the weeks passed. During my morning exercise, I’d see them with beaks bent at obtuse angles, squawking at mom and dad for food.
All very endearing … until I saw the parents fly by with breakfast in their talons. One, a rat. The other, tiny floppy legs and a white cotton-puff tail. A baby bunny.
At times like these, I have to remind myself, “This is the circle of life. For one to survive in the wild, another must die.” But, admittedly, it doesn’t make it any easier.
For Writers: Sometimes we see things that are difficult to understand and just as often, hard to witness. These ‘difficult’ events offer valuable life lessons, despite their unpleasantness. Novels should be no different, offering insight and understanding about those tough topics.
As author Valerie Laken (Dream House) says in The Writer Magazine, “It is a writer’s job to write what is difficult to write, to say the things others are afraid to say. We should take on projects that frighten others.”
Author Teri Coyne (The Last Bridge) agrees. “One of the most frustrating aspects of writing is the way many agents (and editors) are not open to books that deal with difficult subject matter,” she says. “While I am lucky to have an agent that appreciated my story, the process of trying to sell the book was filled with rejections and comments like, ‘I don’t represent books about abuse.’”
Coyne, who feels there is a need for REAL stories about women’s lives, suggests that we, as writers, embrace the rejection and move on. “It’s painful, but in the end you really don’t want anyone to be involved with your story who does not get it or love it. There is too much at stake for you as the writer, both professionally and emotionally.”
Compelling voice and strong story, she says, help make the “difficult” subject matter go down a bit easier. And, given that my novel topics fall into the ‘difficult’ category, I’m encouraged by Coyne’s suggestions. I have some tough stories to tell. Stories that must be told. So, despite the ‘difficult’ label, I’m going to tell them.