By Kathy Harris
When you take time to get to know someone — to really know them — you may be surprised at what you learn. The battles they’ve fought and the triumphs they’ve won might very well inspire and humble you.
The same, of course, is true of Christian writers. In fact, our personal stories can be just as important as our novels. Readers want to know who we are, and why we write what we do. Just as a reader responds favorably to authentic characters, they respond favorably to real authors. Authors who allow themselves to be transparent.
Your personal bio can be one of the most difficult, but important, things you write. But the perquisite name-rank-serial number information is only the beginning of putting yourself out there as a writer. A famous line from The Purpose Driven Life comes to mind. “The very experiences that you have resented or regretted most in life — the ones you’ve wanted to hide and forget — are the experiences God wants to use to help others. They are your ministry!”
Your characters aren’t the only ones with a backstory. You and I have one too. Have you ever wondered why God called you to write the particular stories of your heart? Perhaps the answer lies more with your experiences and less with your talent as a writer.
When it came time to pen the ultimate book, the Bible, did our Creator search for the best writers He could find? Or did He select men and women who had great personal stories to share — experiences that would edify other believers, as well as non-believers, and allow them to see Him more clearly.
Devotion and short form author Linda Veath Cox recently poured her soul onto paper for an upcoming post on my blog with the hope that sharing her experiences will encourage others. Romance author Ruth Axtell readily shares her compelling spiritual journey in her website testimony. And author Christine Lindsay’s bio digs deep into the heart of who she is as a mother who had to make hard choices. It’s this kind of transparency that God uses to touch readers beyond our fictional works.
In a day and age when everyone is searching for a platform, you have one. It’s called your life. Your unique experiences. Your passions. Your mistakes, as well as your successes. You just have to be willing to talk about it to the extent that you are comfortable.
Many of us (holding my hand up high here) are not natural-born public speakers. But once we’ve overcome the fear of being seen authentically — with all of our faults and foibles — we can gain more confidence, even with speaking.
By definition, authors are often private people. You may find it difficult to put yourself out there, to believe it can make a difference. But there’s irony in being “transparent” — it just might keep you from being “invisible.” In today’s frenetic media world, that’s important.
Kathy Harris is an author by way of a “divine detour” into the Nashville entertainment business. Her debut novel, The Road to Mercy, was released by Abingdon Press in September. She regularly interviews literary and music guests on her blog at www.DivineDetour.com.