One of the most heart-wrenching parts of my writing is discovering just how much my characters are apart of me. Every time I read back through a manuscript, I manage to find that one of my character's biggest struggles was mine... at some time or another.
Astrid (Into Astrid's Heart) struggles with rejection and acceptance. Astrid has this terrible blemish and she makes more of it than it is. She believes deep down that no one can accept her because of it. This fear worms its way into her personality. She becomes haughty and rude. She puts others up on a pedestal - holds them to higher standards - because supposedly, they can reach the heights that she believes she can't. It ruins many of her relationships. It takes the love of Gabriel to prove to her that God loves her the way she is, and others too.
Lucia (Lucia's Story) too struggles with rejection - but in a different form. Lucia fears that she'll say the wrong thing when she's around others, and that fear haunts her. It becomes so terrifying for her that she clams up and fears to speak a word to anyone - in a sense, she is mute. Her first love, Wynn proves that he wants to hear whatever she has to say, but when he's gone, and as Christopher Brandin finds a place in her heart, she faces the fear once more. She fears that she'll offend someone who isn't alive to be offended. It takes Chris's persistence and God's work on her heart to show her that she is loved and accepted - not necessarily by everyone, but by those who really matter in her life.
Vilmar Hansson (His Sweet Christin), whom I have yet to introduce, struggles with anger. He puts his faith in Christin to help him control his temper. When Christin leaves Spring Valley, Vilmar finds anger ragging within him, and he gives in to it, letting it take control of him. When Christin returns to Spring Valley, he finds himself calming, but he refuses to consult God concerning everything in his life - even his courtship. His anger has to destroy everything he's tried to attain on his own to show him that God has a part in his life that he never wanted to acknowledge. It takes Christin to show him that a perfect life is one founded in a relationship with Christ, who can defeat even the worst of habits.
Rebecka (Rebecka's Fragile Heart), you might have met her in Into Astrid's Heart, has been named "the Spring Valley Princess." She's the goody two shoes of her cousins. But as people began to point out what a good girl she is, and what a role model she is, the rebellion in Rebecka's heart begins to grow. She wants to defy everything that people expect of her. But her heart is put to the test when her rebellion gets her in trouble. Rebecka has to realize that who she is is who God made her to be, and the only way to find contentment is to thrive where God has put her, instead of trying to change.
I have to laugh, my newest character, Allison (Beyond the Water's Flow - working title) also struggles with rejection and acceptance. Allison left he home in Boston because of rumors that caused her disgrace. Now in North Bloomfield, California, she tries to make a fresh start and become a new person. In Bloomfield, she has no past that others can hold against her - she is new, whole and pure in reputation. It's not an easy task however, to keep who she was out of the new image. It keeps coming back to bite her. Allison has to learn that who she is in God's eyes is all that matters. If she keeps his commandments, then whatever others think of her doesn't matter, because God approves.
Maybe writing is how I deal with the issues in my life. Maybe as the characters, work throught their dilemnas, I find healing as well - I'm not sure. All I know, is that I have a BIG God, and he uses all different kinds of methods to teach me the things he has in store for me. Sometimes I have to learn the hard way... the messy bits of my life rising to the surface for all to see. Other times, he gently guides me to the truth.
But from what I've been told... the best writing, with the best emotions explained, comes from personal experience.