In the month of October, I’m having another guest blogger take over my site. I got to know A.J. Adwen through the blogging world. We soon began to develop a friendship as we discovered we have a love for writing fiction. We both love emotional honesty in writing. We both believe that the only reason to write fiction is to heal—ourselves and others. I love her heart, and I love her personal story, which is one of tragedy and redemption. Please read Part I here before reading the conclusion in Part II.
Words of Courage & Healing:
How Writing Fiction Helped Me Learn to be Honest With God
by A.J. Adwen
Let’s jump to the summer of 2009.
I had just gotten out of an extremely destructive relationship in the spring and was still very damaged from it. He was the first person I’d really allowed myself to trust since my divorce from my porn-addicted ex-husband. He’d crushed that trust.
Ever heard the song Stupid Boy by Keith Urban? If not, have a listen. It could have been written to the men in my life.
She laid her heart and soul right in your hands,
And you stole her every dream and crushed her plans.
She never even knew she had a choice,
And that’s what happens when the only voice she hears,
Is telling her she can’t.
I was told “You can’t” over and over again. You can’t write, you can’t sing. You can’t, you can’t, you can’t. But what you can do is come to bed with me.
I came to a place where I believed that that was all I amounted to. I remember lying in bed with him, sobbing uncontrollably as I spoke of how much I missed trusting in God. I wanted this man to see that God was real, even though I hated Him myself. I think I wanted this because if he believed, I thought that maybe I could as well.
But he didn’t believe. This man didn’t care about my pain. He only cared about his. We were both very wounded people, and our relationship was bound to crumble. It did, eventually.
That’s when I flew to Los Angeles with one suitcase and my guitar, running into the arms of my best friend from childhood.
I had so many hopes for that new start in LA, but I didn’t fully reach for them because of fear. Fear of flying with wings that were still very much damaged from the storms I had weathered. I learned a lot there. I laughed a lot there. And even though I didn’t chase my dreams while I was there, I can honestly say that my healing had finally begun, even though I didn’t see it yet.
I flew back home when I became too overwhelmed. I felt like such a coward for giving up. I hated myself more than ever, even though a piece of my heart was ironically much more alive than before. It was as if the ice had begun to melt, and I was feeling the sun. That warmth burned. It was almost painful. It made every emotion feel that much more raw.
Eventually, I saw Los Angeles as a stepping stone. A moment of courage where I stepped away from abusive relationships and onto a new path. A stumbling, winding path towards God.
My best friend had talked in the past about moving to Oklahoma, and I wanted another chance to thrive. That was when a couple of my close friends in Oklahoma opened their arms to me like she had in LA, telling me they would let me stay with them for a while to get on my feet once I moved. It just felt right.
In less than a month, I got myself packed up, and once again embarked on a new journey.
This was in September of 2009.
I was a mess. I ruined friendships. I ran from everything.
It was a struggle to even get out of bed while in their home, and I stayed up until all hours of the night. I hugged my pillow and cried for hours at a time, sometimes even imagining that I was being held, because the pain of being single was overwhelming. I’d grown so dependent on having a man in my life that I didn’t know how to live without one.
But one night, I gave up my hopes and dreams in one single prayer, opening a crevice of my heart to receiving something from the God I’d run from. I told Him that I was finally going to allow Him to work in me. My way wasn’t working at all.
One week later, God brought me the man I now call my husband.
I was so scared. On our first date, I opened my heart and poured everything out, essentially saying, “This is me… take it or leave it.” He took it. He loved every part of me. He encouraged me to keep writing the book that I’d given up on years before.
My first draft was complete garbage. It was stolen anyway when my apartment was broken into. They took my computer and most of my files with it. It was for the best, because that first draft was all a lie.
I didn’t write again until the winter of 2012, but when I did, I wrote Othrinia’s Rain entirely in three months. Ask anyone. In December, I was still keeping my wings clamped to my sides. By March 2013, they were unfolding.
Othrinia’s Rain, the first installment of The Rain Trilogy, isn’t a Christian novel. In fact, I think a lot of Christians might be offended by some of the content. But the heart behind each word is one of a wounded soul seeking healing. The heart, like I said, is one of redemption. And I hope that in some way, readers can draw strength from the trilogy as I write it.
Othrinia’s Rain is a fantasy novel about a girl named Raenah who goes from the embodiment of light to the darkest pit she could possibly imagine. She finds out that her path isn’t at all what she’d been raised to believe it was. As new trials arise, she finds that her truth lies in what she’s always been taught is the worst of evil. She finds that living the way she’s been raised will shackle her to an identity that isn’t her own, and in that, will discover that who she truly is can be redeemed for good. (This may be a little cryptic as far as plot line goes, but I don’t want to give any of the twists of my story away!)
I found it impossible not to pour my heart and soul into Raenah. All of my pain, all of my small victories… they were hers, too. I can’t tell you how many times I cried while writing it. I can’t tell you how many times my husband urged me on, telling me, “You can do it! You can!”
I was so afraid of my secrets being revealed through Raenah. Of people shunning me for the things I wrote in all of their twisted, brutal ways.
I was finally beginning to put my trust in God again. What if people threw stones at me for my thoughts? For the way I expressed myself? What if they told me I wasn’t walking with the Lord, when I knew I finally was?
What if God was ashamed of me for what I wrote?
I know now more than ever that shame is the furthest thing from God’s heart, because each word I wrote was another word that I’d needed to say all along.
God wants our honesty. He wants our pain uninhibited so that He can heal us. I wasn’t willing to say these things to Him directly, but He gave me the faith to write them instead. Through writing a brutally honest story, I learned to be brutally honest with God.
The discovery I made through writing this book is that who I am, who I really am, is a flawed, wretched human being that doesn’t deserve the goodness that God offers. I am not the innocent little girl I used to be. I have experienced true darkness and pain. I have sinned and fallen in ways I never thought I could. Though forgiveness has washed me clean, I am still on this journey of redemption. A path of new growth.
Who I am now is who I am meant to be, pains and mistakes and all, because I can offer truth to those who have been wounded. This position is one I never wanted. It comes a great deal of responsibility. But I know this is God’s plan for me.
I’m not the person I used to be. I am not a perfect little church-going, evangelistic, bible-thumping believer. Before I ever knew the darkness, I accepted the polished, fairytale-like vision of Christ. I never understood why people with so many burdens wouldn’t accept it, too. I get it now. I get why.
Now I love God fiercely with new vigor and understanding. And so I have to infuse my own stories with truth, with honesty, with rawness. I have to tell a story of true pain and darkness that readers can relate to, which is Othrinia’s Rain. Then and only then I can write about redemption, which will be the next books in the series.
I’d like to tell you that I wrote this book and now I’m as good as new, but that would be a lie. I have a long, long road ahead of me. But that’s why I keep writing.
I write to find my wings again.
I write to heal.
And I write because I can.
A.J. Adwen is an Oregon native, born and raised in the mountains. She now resides in Oklahoma with her husband and three cats, where she devotes the majority of her time to writing and photography. You can purchase Othrinia’s Rain at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.