Writing To Heal
Writing can fulfill many purposes. Obviously, people create fictional stories and relay facts in books but that only shows you the end product. It’s what goes on “behind the scenes” during the writing process that can truly be fascinating. “The pen is mightier than the sword” has a degree of truth to it. Writing can be a weapon, if one chooses to use it that way. Or it can heal the deepest wounds.
I was born with amblyopia, a medical condition better known as “lazy eye.” Left untreated, it can lead to blindness. My parents had me undergo multiple corrective surgeries and physical therapy from shortly after birth through the age of twelve to strengthen that eye. Until that was remedied, I had poor depth perception, which made me terrible at sports. I experienced a lot of bullying from other kids, especially boys, particularly when I made any attempt to play sports.
Not wanting to be insulted or hurt, I isolated myself from most kids. I even taught myself not to react emotionally. My parents had taught me that fighting was bad and not to fight. So instead, I controlled my emotions as best I could. Between the ages of six to perhaps ten, I would come home from school and watch cartoons like most kids but I challenged myself to not laugh or get excited. Even with Saturday morning cartoons, which I really enjoyed, I made myself not react. I showed my emotions with my family and closest friends; otherwise, I was quiet, usually just observing situations. I wasn’t even aware that I had become a quiet student. No one prompted me to do any of this. I instigated it myself, probably to protect myself from even potentially being hurt.
Not surprisingly, I developed a lifelong disdain for sports of any kind (with a mild exception being soccer). Time and the Lord have lessened this feeling but I have no illusions about ever becoming a sports enthusiast.
Back on topic, I started reading and enjoying superhero comic books when I was eight years old. By the time I was ten, I had actually become something of a critic, knowing what I liked and disliked. One friend remarked “if you don’t like them, why don’t you make your own comics?” And at that time, in my little kid brain, I decided that was a great idea! I wrote and drew a comic book with original characters that formed a superhero team and fought supervillains. Then they began having relationships. In time, they even got married and started having kids.
In a unique way, I started living vicariously through my comic book characters and their experiences -- their triumphs, their tragedies and everything in-between. I started calling my comics my “therapy.” And in a sense, it was. By the same principle, if I was going through something challenging in my own life, some version of it would often find its way into my comics.
When I gave my life to Christ in January 1996, I had been married for a little under a year and was a new father. It gave me a new perspective. By 2007, my wife and I put together the “Due East” Christian webcomic about a multi-racial family trying to come back together and heal after a separation and divorce. While I had never experienced divorce, I knew plenty of friends and even a few family members who had. I understood some sense of how damaging it was, especially to the children. Because of the sensitive nature of the story, my wife and I had to lean on the Lord through prayer to tackle such a topic. We also sought His help with how to share our faith through a webcomic.
In 2013, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and make my first 50,000 word rough draft in less than a month. Through prayer and persistence, I took many of the characters from my first superhero team comic and some of the early stories and re-tooled them to work together to create Mindfire (coming Summer 2019 from Ambassador International). Along the way, a lot of elements of my personality and even my life ended up in that novel. It was exciting, terrifying and cathartic, all at the same time.
I think this is true in everything I write. Whether intentional or not, I imbue each novel with bits of myself. And in doing so, it is also a healing and release, opening my words up to intrigue as well as criticism.
But now, I don’t write just for myself. I try to reach people with a message of hope in the salvation and deliverance that Christ freely offers. I want to share the Healing only He can bring. I know what the Lord has done in my life. Now I want to pass it forward.
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About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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