by Lynn Crandall
Lynn Crandall lives in the Midwest and writes in the company of her cat. She has been a reader and a writer all her life. Her background is in journalism, but whether writing a magazine or newspaper story or creating a romance, she loves the power stories hold to transport, inspire, and uplift. In her romances, she focuses on vulnerable, embraceable characters who don't back down. Welcome to the round Corral, Lynn!
Who do you think you are?
No, seriously. Who do “You” think you are?
This question was one I lived with as a child. Make a quip and I’d get The Question from my parents: “Who do you think you are, someone special?” The question was intended to put me back in my lowly place of silent, well-behaved child. I’m not ragging on my parents, but that question haunted me into adulthood. The implication being that I’m nobody. It had the effect of taking the wind out of my creativity. It has at times made me want to cower under the covers rather than sit at my computer and write, something I really wanted to do. After all, I’m nobody, so who would want to read what I’ve written? Self-doubt can be crippling.
But enough about that. My point today is even though self-doubt may have been planted as a child, I’m a grown-up now. Those people are not saying harmful things anymore. I decide who I am, hence, the emphasis on Who do “I” think I am? For that, I got a little direction from the wonderful author of Dojo Wisdom for Writers, Jennifer Lawler. In her book, she discusses doing the kind of writing important to you. In order to do that, she suggests taking a solid look inward to understand what is important to you.
“…Create a conscious strategy that coincides with your beliefs,” she writes in DoJo Wisdom for Writers.
She offers questions to help us understand ourselves better.
- What are your core beliefs?
- What message do you want to bring to the world as a writer?
- What kind of writing appeals to you?
- What do you think you could be successful doing?
To be forthright, when I spent some time on the questions, I wanted to find concise, foundational beliefs summed up in four to six phrases. It didn’t happen, not yet. The core beliefs I presently value list what I felt were incoherent, undefined thoughts.
1. Treat people with kindness
2. Be direct
3. Speak to the source (expert sources for writing and a person who has troubled me in some way, for example).
5. Open up
6. Live in the present.
My message had the same feeling of scattered thoughts.
1. Life is not what people think it is.
2. Pain has to be acknowledged and processed.
3. Family is what you make it.
Question three? I enjoy reading and writing paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and romantic suspense. I care about animals and the environment. My Fierce Hearts series gave me a way to work with my beliefs.
4. In answering number four for myself, I reaffirmed that the process of writing is what I enjoy. But underneath that is the desire to engage readers in my writing and introduce concepts in different ways. For instance, my Fierce Hearts series books feature characters who can shimmer into lynxes. But even with the paranormal attributes and abilities, they struggle with relationships and healing from past wounding – just as humans do. I may not be completely successful at doing these things, but I feel equipped with more clarity on how to become successful in a way that is meaningful to me.
So there you have it. Who do I think I am? I’m a writer. That is unquestionable. Even in my lowest times of self-doubt I know I’m a writer and I’m not going to let myself denigrate my ability by listening to the harmful-to-me messages in my head. I like to go deep and learn new things. I’m a curious and thoughtful person. I practice discernment and challenge the status quo in a quiet way. I face my inner problems in order to grow, and I want to encourage readers to do the same.
I want my stories to entertain and take readers on a great ride. I also want them to exert an emotional impact on readers. Looking yourself straight in the face and defining for yourself in a positive context who you are can help you breeze past the inner editor a bit faster each time it strikes you at your core, and help you identify your truth about yourself and your writing. From that informed vantage point, your creativity may flow more readily and you can know what your strategy for success should include.
I hope my writing models, at least a bit, a healthy way to engage with the world and in meaningful relationships. Here’s an excerpt from Unstoppable, Book Five in my Fierce Hearts series that features heroine Lara Monroe under extreme duress but able to process feelings of being trapped and tortured as it happens to her, while her hero, Booker Chase, looks on helplessly.
Lara tuned out whatever Marcus was saying as he inserted the blade inside her mouth. She closed her eyes, focusing tightly on soothing the terrified little girl inside her that had quietly endured so much pain. She recited the phrase she’d used to take her out of her body in the times her uncle had molested her. Thank you for the birds that sing. Thank you, God, for everything.
Her eyes flew open and searing pain hardened her grip on the sides of the bed as Marcus sliced into her gum tissue. The affirmative phrase left her thoughts as her mind screamed. Or was that her shrill shriek pouring out of her mouth?
“Stop it! Stop it!” Booker demanded, a low, menacing growl rolling from his throat. “I’m sorry, Lara. So sorry, babe.”
Marcus withdrew the scalpel, twirling it casually. Lara tasted blood on her tongue, oozing from the cut in her gums. Nausea swept through her.
Booker rocked in his chair. “Hang in there. Lara. I’m right here.”
Marcus snorted. “Not that you can help her. That is unless you tell me where I can find my son.” The tone of his voice was a sharp edge.
A steadying wave of Booker’s healing energy filled her. It calmed her frayed nerves enough that the panic robbing her breath lessened.
Marcus smirked again and bent over her, and another slice sent her mind thrashing for the words she’d memorized years ago. What is that damn phrase? Umm … Birdies sing, angels bring … oh hell. She glared at Marcus and hollered, long and loud.
I don’t have any magic formula for anything. Many writers have written about conquering the inner critic and creating a winning strategy. But for me, self-discovery has clarified a little more who I am and what I want: To be a writer known for creating accessible, wounded characters involved in difficult, sometimes painful, terrifying circumstances yet don’t back down.
Reeling from Project Powering, the recent battle between the evil Nexus Group and her colony of were-cats, were-lynx Lara Monroe is struggling with not only thwarting the group’s plans to take over the world and eliminate her colony, but also her own traumatic past and aching heart. Through her work as a veterinarian equipped with a special healing touch, she can help animals. Animals she can trust not to tear open her heart. As the colony’s unofficial go-to for help with emotional issues, Lara is eager to use her healing touch to help colony cat Booker Chase process grief and his PTSD. But as the focus of her unrequited love, Booker unknowingly beckons her to ask for more than friendship.
A formidable were-lynx and a physician, Booker nonetheless has his hands full helping patients who were seriously injured in Project Powering. Though his healing touch is powerful in healing physical injuries in his patients, it’s useless to help him heal from the loss of his wife or the retriggered PTSD he incurred while serving in Afghanistan. Now that his good friend Lara is standing by him in his emotional struggles, he is finding there is more to his connection with her than he realized. But dare he open his heart to her?
In the epic conclusion of the Fierce Hearts series, while the colony faces constant threats in attempting to end TNG, will Lara and Booker survive to take their second chance at love?
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lcrandall246 , @lcrandall246