Words Save Our Lives, Sometimes

-Neil Gaiman (title quote)

“Books have a funny way of finding you when you need them the most.”
-Jon Acuff (3 reasons to give someone a book this Christmas)

It never ceases to amaze me how, sometimes, you can find exactly the book you need at exactly the right time. Personally, I believe that has something to do with God speaking to me. But I have yet to meet a reader who hasn’t experienced this deep and astonishing connection to a pile of ink and paper.

One of my most recent encounters with this kind of situation was with Rainbow Rowell’s book Fangirl. I had heard so many things about that book, mostly good, and for a couple of months I wanted nothing more than to read it.

Well, I finally got it in August of 2014. And I read it. And I read it again within two weeks. And then I loaned it to a friend and obsessed over reading it again as soon as I got it back.

There was just something about Cath, about the story itself, that connected with me. Cath is like me in many ways. A writer. Somewhat lacking in self-confidence. Going through a time of great personal change and questioning. Learning how to be on her own. The story went through some major ups and downs, so much like my own life.

And in the end, Cath found her voice. She found what made her happy. She took a step out into the world as a new version of herself.

And I loved it so much that I am still obsessed with the book a year and a half later.

You see, Fangirl was exactly the story I needed at the time I read it. It pulled me in, heart and soul, it gave me anxiety, it made me cry, but, most importantly, it gave me hope about my own life, that things would be okay. It left me with that warm fuzzy feeling of well-being. So much so that merely holding the book was encouraging to me.

Now, isn’t that what every writer wants? To affect their readers in such dramatic ways that they can look and say, “Yes, that book saved my life. I read it right when I needed it most.”

I think that if we, as writers, focus on the things that matter to us, if we honestly use our experiences and voices to craft our stories, if we don’t run away and hide the demons lurking inside every human, then we can truly create those kinds of stories. Yes, it can be gut-wrenching and embarrassing to bare those parts of our souls. But without that, all we have is a flat piece of writing that someone will read and forget, if they even finish it. If they even pick it up in the first place.

So what about you? What books have truly impacted you in such a way? How do you use your own experiences in your writing to make an impact on the reader?

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