A few years ago I heard Luis Alberto Urrea speak at the Festival of Faith and Writing. Urrea is a Mexican American poet, journalist, and novelist. Now, before you run out and read his books, just know that, if you want to learn how to cuss in Spanish, you’ll learn by reading his work. Also, if you like to gag on the funk of humanity, his stories will do that.
He’s gritty. There’s no lace on his sleeve.
You know, just a few weeks ago I turned in the latest draft of A Cup of Dust to my publisher. I love the story, probably more than the other two (sorry, other novels). It’s gritty. Literally (yes, I’m using that word correctly). There is a fair amount of blood. Seething hate. Deception.
I felt badly punishing my protagonist (main character). But it was what I had to do so she would learn that God is the one who saves.
Now I’m researching for another project. I can’t tell you much about it. What I can say is…it’s different. I think in a good way. This one will also deal with difficult, gritty issues. The research is showing me a glimpse into the heart of darkness of which humans are capable.
It’s enough to snuff out hope if I’d let it.
But I’m not going to do that.
I think Luis Alberto Urrea was onto something. If we can see God through all the suffering in this world, through the dark times, the fear and agony people endure — if we can see God while we’re wallowing in the mud and muck, then we’ve got it.
That’s what I hope I do with my writing. Truly I do.