Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When Fiction Meets Life

Sandra Orchard here, jumping in for Roxanne Rustand who is enjoying a cruise with her husband. Can you imagine? Choosing that over being here today?! ~grin~
Okay, she's not cruising Alaska, but I couldn't resist sharing a pic from the cruise I took this past summer, but I digress...

I've had a few discussions with people lately about reading fiction. Some say they don't bother because if they're going to take the time to read, they want to read something meatier, something they'll learn something from.

I personally find that I learn a lot through fiction. Sometimes I learn about a historical time period I'm unfamiliar with. Or I learn about an occupation. Or best of all, I gain a deeper understanding of the valleys some are walking through, or gain hope and inspiration to traverse my own valleys.

Of course, as a writer, I often find myself working through many of those things as the story I'm writing unfolds, but none so acutely as my current book, Critical Condition, which as you might guess from the title involves some life and death situations. Writing it helped me work through my grief over the loss of a dear friend.

But with its release, I've found myself challenged again and again by the same questions the heroine asks in the book.

Last month a young child in our church drowned. Last night a friend's teenage son died of head injuries after being hit by a car while walking. In both cases, others lived--both spiritually, in giving their hearts over to God, and physically, in being organ recipients--as a result of their deaths, but we still grieve deeply.

For me, seeing characters work through the kind of tragic situations we never want to experience often gives me insight and inspiration beyond any non-fiction book I'd pick up, save for God's word.

In Ezekial 15:8, God tells Ezekial with regard to the disasters that will come, "You will be consoled when you see their conduct and their actions, for you will know that I have done nothing in it without cause."

We can't see the big picture from our vantage point, but we trust in a God who loves us and is merciful and patient and who does not want to see anyone perish. Amen?

Your Turn: How have you learned or been inspired by a fiction book?


  1. Great thoughts here, Sandra.

    As silly as this may sound, my first inspiration from a fiction book was with my favorite book in first or second grade - Charlotte's Web.

    I found that it was important to have friends - friends you can trust, AND who can trust you. Friends who will put their life on the line for you, and you would do the same.

    "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." ~ John 15:13

  2. That such a beautiful example, thanks for sharing, Loree!

  3. Here in Arizona, child drownings make the news weekly. When we purchased our house, we chose not to have a pool. Then, I worried about the neighbors who had pools.

    I will add the teenager's family to my prayers.

    And, I'll hug my son extra times today.

  4. How scary, Pamela. This child actually died in a very shallow decorative pond. So sad.

  5. Sandra, thanks for filling in today with an insightful post.

    I always need time between the books I write to unwind from the struggle my characters have had to endure. I'm right there experiencing the angst with them so I need a break and a little sunshine before I dive in again. :)

    So sorry about the loss in your own community. Death is so hard to understand at times, especially when children are involved.

    I'm joining my prayers to Pamela's for the families that lost loved ones.

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  7. Sandra, thanks for the wonderful post. I used to teach elementary school, and I used to have my students read books that taught a valuable lessons. One of those books was The Hundred Dresses.

    Loree, your comment is exactly the reason why I read a lot of books to my students.

  8. Hi Lorree and all, Oh, I loved Charlotte's Web also. Wonderful lessions in that story about friendship and scrificial love.

  9. I learn so much through fiction books. It's a very fun way to learn. And I know I spend tons of time researching my books :)

  10. Sandra, I'm so sorry for the loss of these specal people in your life. It's hard to explain grief, but I believe we use our feelings to help tell our stories. A book I just turned in had nothing to do with some of the grief I've experienced, but I thought about those situations when I was writing it and I cried a lot of tears over it. Fiction has taught me lots of things--how to behave (okay, still working on that one), how to dress, how to cook, how to laugh at myself and mostly, how to learn about other lives and times and circumstances and how to overcome the worse in life. Great post!


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