Friday, October 11, 2013

Writers “Go There”—Entering the Vulnerable

 Happy Friday ya'll. Remember, in our imaginations we're on a plane headed to Ireland! Check out yesterday's post if you're confused. Yeah, I blogged on Thursday.  I'd Rather Be... 

Because today, my friend, Wendy Paine Miller is in the house and she's talking about writing, birthing babies (I said that in the tone of Prissy from Gone with the Wind!) and her debut novella, The Disappearing Key. Wendy, take it away!

I can’t say when it was that I realized several of my novels depict scenes that revolve around labor. I know women care about such events and I write women’s fiction, but the process of including births in my work wasn’t intentional. It doesn’t work like that. At least not for me anyway.

I think these scenes kept showing up in my work because I was writing into the pain. As a writer, I was “going there.”

I have three daughters.

And I lost two babies in between my second and third.

What’s weird is I rarely ever bring this up. It’s still hard. Seven years later, speaking the word miscarriage still swells a sizeable knot in my throat and the backs of my eyes sting with tears.

So why, you might be thinking, why go there?

I don’t really have a clear cut answer except to say it’s what writers do. Whether it’s a part of the catharsis or a subconscious gut instinct that women could sit around a table all night sharing labor stories, these scenes keep finding a way into my work.

I also think it’s because we’re bonded by birth stories. They are our badges of courage, our completed marathons, our tour de force, our personal Mount Everest, our interlaced threads of womanhood stringing us all together through vulnerability—by honest life-surging events as heartbreaking or funny or remarkable as they come.

So I write about births, as I did in the first scene of my debut novella, THE DISAPPEARING KEY. I feel what my character’s feel, their loss becoming my loss, their joy—my joy. I may not always agree with their choices or understand their reasoning, but more than anything else as I writer I aim to experience with them vicariously, without judgment, unencumbered and fully engaged with them moment by moment.

I step away after writing these scenes with a heightened sense of empathy, a fueled curiosity, and a deepened sense of gratitude for the ways women bolster and enliven one another in conversations that involve childbirth.

Why do you think women are so bonded by stories of birth? Have you experienced this is the case in your experiences with women?

 Wendy lives with her husband, their three girls, and a skunk-dodging Samoyed. She feels
most alive when she’s laughing, speeding on a boat, reading, writing, refurbishing furniture or taking risks. She’s authored ten novels and is currently writing what she hopes will be your future book club pick.

Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and online sites. Wendy graduated with a BA in English from Wittenberg University, where she earned an Honor of Distinction for her accrued knowledge of literature.

She’s represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.

Visit  or connect with Wendy on Facebook or Twitter @wendypmiller


  1. Thanks for allowing me to get vulnerable here today, Jessica! Love this blog. Feels like a great venue to do so!
    ~ Wendy

  2. It's a common ground for many. It always comes up at some point in my conversation with other moms and it bonds us. An experience unlike any other. And I've been in your spot, both the happy and the sad moments. But God uses it all. Every single drop of it:)

    1. My own book club started talking about birth stories the other night & I wanted to point them to this post. It's just so natural & fun & bonding. I love your last point. Have lived that!

  3. I agree--birth is one of those life changers that women can't help but respond to. I'm sorry about the loss of your dear babies, though, Wendy.

    1. Thanks Jill. It rattled me good. But I came through. And yes, certainly a life changer!

  4. HI, Wendy! Yes, it is true, we women do have a bond when it comes to giving birth. I guess because it's something men can't relate to at all. And there really is no other feeling like it.

    1. Love some of the times I've laughed (and cried) with women about the stories of our births. So memorable!

  5. Wendy, I love that you've identified this so well. It's so true. It's as true as death stories that must be told. I'm a nurse practitioner and I have to say that when patients come in, no matter what they are there to see me for, if a loved one has recently passed, I give them time to tell their stories. It's so visceral. Birth and death are so near one another--they both take us to thin places.

    1. Visceral--great word and I also love how you mentioned the thin places! Thanks for commenting, Anne!


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