Friday, November 5, 2010

You Are More

I've spent the last eight months living with this novel I tentatively named PRODIGAL, and it took an appalling amount of time for me to really connect with the main character. When I wrapped up revisions last week, though, I cried writing the last scene, and I realized that somewhere along the way, I'd fallen in love with her. She became real in a way that I was sad when she was sad, and joyful when she triumphed.

She is the kind of character that changes. Those are my favorite to write, and while I knew this is what I was setting out to do, it was an entirely different thing to watch it unfold as it did. She starts out wounded, a victim of childhood abuse and neglect, betrayed by everyone she dares to love or trust, until she runs away to find a new life. In her new life, she makes herself what she wants it to be.

And in writing, I think initially I thought this was her rebirth. She left, and she made a new life for herself. But as the story developed I realized this isn't at all what happened. She left, and this new life was just a cover, a way to ignore the things of the past. She ran away from not only her home, but herself.

And in coming back home, she finds herself again. She grapples with the choices made by others that scarred her, and the choices she made herself that nearly destroyed her. She finds herself with new choices, harder ones, ones that require her to redefine what love is, and what family is, and what home is... and who she is.

This week I heard this song, and it immediately made me think of her. Here are some of the lyrics:

"There's a girl in the corner With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered And the shame she can't hide

She says, "How did I get here? I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear That I've fallen too far to love"

But don't you know who you are, What's been done for you?
Yeah don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade."

Watch the chalkboard. It's incredible. And see if you don't see yourself in there somewhere too.


  1. I LOVE that song! I crank it up in the car every time it comes on. I can't wait to read your new book!

  2. Whoa. What a great song. Isn't it great when a song captures something about our stories or characters?

  3. That's a great video. Thanks for sharing. I esp love the end when all of it washes away.

  4. And I'm realizing how important the whole getting-to-know-your-character thing is. :)

  5. What a great song, video, and message.

  6. I didn't realize the boys of this band were so young! Beautiful song. I look forward to reading your new book.

  7. I love Tenth Avenue North! I almost went to see them in concert last week but the tickets sold out just before we could get them. Anyway, I love getting to know my characters and really feeling for them. It's a good sign that readers will feel sympathy for them as well, and really connect.

  8. Wow, Heidi, this is so powerful--both your message and that amazing song. Made me cry. Jerry is here this morning and was so taken with the song he came in to check it out.

    Can't wait to read the book! By the way, I love the word "Prodigal" for the novel. Suggest you keep it.

  9. Wow, that was powerful! Both the emotion in your post, the music and the words on the chalkboard...

  10. Thanks, Marsh. I'm glad you liked the video. It touched such a chord with me.

    For the time being, I'm keeping Prodigal as the title, although mostly because I can't think of anything better. I don't think it's brilliant, but I think it fits well. The problem with working titles is that you come to be attached to them. :)

  11. I haven't heard that song before but I REALLY like it, Heidi. I was just talking with another mom tonight about an incredibly tough parenting period she's going through, and I was making some of the very points sung about in that song. We are MORE than the mistakes, problems and choices we've made! Excellent post (as always!).

  12. I tried to watch the chalk video..but it would let me.

  13. Cyndi - I'm not sure why that particular video disappeared off YouTube. There are others with the same song, but without the chalkboard, which is the best part.

    Here is a link you can watch it on Facebook:!/video/video.php?v=572611031081&oid=7932537452&comments