The story that challenges you is worth writing – Steena Holmes

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By Steena Holmes

One thing I have learned in my writing journey is this: some books come easy and some tear your soul.♥

Up until The Word Game, every story I’d written, while difficult and heart wrenching, were easy stories for me. I fell in love with the characters and the plot, I knew what was going to happen and I couldn’t wait to take my readers with me on the journey. The characters were life size in my mind and were as real to me as my own family. I had no problem meeting my word goals each day and in fact, would often surpass that goal and complete the novels within months of starting.

The Word Game was a whole new ballgame for me.

It’s a story that tore my soul. Quite possibly the hardest one I’ve ever had to write and everything I’d mentioned above was opposite. I struggled daily to meet my word goals. I had no idea how the story was going to end, only how it began and I have seven complete and very different drafts sitting within my files.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love the story. Quite the opposite, I love the way it turned out with a passion I didn’t experience with the others. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

I learned a lot about my process as a writer and the lesson of letting a story happen the way it needs to from the seven drafts I agonized through. Each of those drafts, while solid, weren’t right, they were missing something, something crucial to what the story needed.

My soul.

I am an emotional writer. It’s what I love to write and what I’m known for. I write stories that come straight from the fears within my heart – the fears that most mothers or parents pray they never have to experience. I write these emotional issue-driven stories because I know that as women, we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for and while the novel I write might not always end the way you would expect, you are able to recognize that strength that is there within you.

The Word Game demanded my heart, along with the tears and the emotional intensity I love to write. But it didn’t stop there. This story required my soul, it tore it apart and made me face so many things within myself I was afraid to face. There is a level of truth in this story that hit too close to home and that scared me. For the first time during my writing process I wasn’t sure if I could handle where the story was leading me. Which scared me, because if I couldn’t handle it, could my readers? How could I ask you to take this journey with me if I wasn’t willing to go myself?

The Word Game is a story that touches on so many things in our lives – our relationships with family members and friends, the words that we say, the way we allow fear to dictate our lives … but it’s more than that as well. It shines a light into a topic we’re sometimes too afraid to look at – protecting our children’s innocence. Innocence comes in so many forms, from their tender hearts and emotions, to their bodies and even when it comes to relationships. We have this deep-seeded need to protect our children from the moment of conception to even after they have their own families and I think as parents, we deem ourselves as failures if this innocence isn’t maintained.

Writing The Word Game made me take a really hard look at myself and face a lot of fears I’ve kept at bay, fears that perhaps have inhibited my children in ways I never imagined. No other book I’ve written has done that to me on such a personal level.

Some books come easy and leave an impression never to be forgotten. Some books tear you apart and challenge you in ways you’ll never forget. Every author has that one book they loved to write, that one book they fought to write and that one book that challenged them to write.

I can’t imagine what my next story will be like but I do know this … having my soul torn apart has made me a better storyteller, a better person and a better mother. Can you say the same of a story you’ve written? If not, then let me challenge you today to write it. I promise you will not regret it.

Steena Holmes is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author known for The Finding Emma series, The Memory Child, Stillwater Rising and most recently, The Word Game.

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