//about acceso + writing the tough things

I’d wanted to do something light and fluffy on my blog today to make up for the emotional trainwreck of the last few days, but a chat with a friend this morning made me go ‘nah.’ (One of these days!) If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard me mention Acceso. It’s a WIP-novel of mine, currently undergoing its fourth (and hopefully final) draft. It has morphed so much since I first began it four years ago. Collectively I’ve probably written about 150,000 words in it, but each time the shape has changed and I’ve known it wasn’t ready yet. My last draft felt so very close, but not close enough. It was missing something. The characterization was right, the setting was right, but something was missing.

ACCESOcover

                A few months ago, someone posted an article from an anti-porn website called ‘Fight the New Drug.’ The article was the transcript of an email from a veteran porn producer to a newbie, giving him some ‘help.’ The author of the article posed the question – what is attractive about a porn ‘star’ curled up in the fetal position, sucking their thumb because they can’t wrap their mind around what they just did? The answer: nothing.

                That article made a heavy impression on me and it simmered in the back of my mind for several months, until I ran across another article from Fight the New Drug. It was a video by the most famous male porn star of all time (now ex-porn star) and the regrets he had. He shed light on what it was like to be in the industry, how easy it was to fall down the rabbit hole, and how hard it was to climb back out.

                I searched farther through the site (which is an incredibly eye-opening experience, done tactfully and with a Christian viewpoint – for anyone wondering). There were letters from porn stars describing the abuse they endured, the manipulation, the disease, the worthlessness. I kept that website and spent hours digging through it, growing more and more convicted.

                Still, I waited – I wasn’t sure. This was pretty heavy stuff, even for me (and I like to write heavy stuff). The very next day, my Mom posted a video on Facebook. It was the last interview with serial rapist and murderer, Ted Bundy, hours before his death. A handsome, ordinary-looking man with cultured speech and intelligence in his eyes told the interviewer the evils of porn. He said ask any man in any prison what started them on the path that led them there. It would be porn.

                I hadn’t felt a sign that large saying GO WRITE THIS since I wrote Monster four years ago. That was also a heavy subject – for a seventeen-year-old, tackling bioethics was daunting but felt very necessary. Whether the book was a hit or not, I think it touched the people it was supposed to touch – and I have letters and emails from people thanking me for it.

                While I cringe thinking of how much my writing has improved since then, I have always felt the most convicted when writing about heavier, darker subjects. And while I applaud Christian media for exposing the evils of porn consumption (i.e. Fireproof) I can’t think of a single Christian novel, movie, or even song that sheds light on the horrors of those trapped in the actual industry.

                Finally ready, I did some heavy praying and began to write the fourth draft of Acceso. The pieces fell together. While before it was about an exotic performer trapped in a slave contract, it went the last step and he became a porn ‘star’ trapped in an industry he hated. And for the first time, it felt completely right. It still feels completely write.

                It’s not easy, trying to write about something as graphic as the porn industry in a non-graphic way, but I’ve been told by the amazing team of readers I have that I’m doing a good job of it (and they’ll tell me if I’m not).

                When I sent out the first chapter, the reviews surprised me. Several people on my reading team told me that their responses would probably be short – because the novel was hitting close to home, bringing up emotional memories. I was told the novel was helping them tackle dark things in their past. That response was amazing, of course, but there was another kind of response – a response of shock.

                They weren’t shocked because I was writing about the porn industry (by this point, I’m fairly sure my readership is impossible to faze. ‘Oh, she’s writing about this now? Okie dokie!’) – they were shocked because they hadn’t known about anything that happened behind the scenes.

                “I always just thought they wanted to be there,” a good friend told me in surprise.

                The awful truth is that the percentage of porn ‘stars’ who want to be in the industry is tiny. Most Americans don’t realize this, because all we see are the famous porn stars, the ones who praise the industry and the money they make. The porn industry wants people to be ignorant of what goes on behind the scenes – of the drugs, rape, abuse, prostitution, disease, forced abortion, and other horrors that carry on. Because if everyone knew about that side of the coin (which just happens to be the much larger side) Americans would find porn much harder to stomach.

                It makes me angry. The fact that most Christians believe the most harm comes to those viewing porn, and not those acting it out, breaks my heart. It’s kept in the dark, and I wanted to write a novel that both exposed the industry while giving hope. I don’t like shying away from things, but I told the friend I was chatting with this morning, “I’ve probably only scratched the surface and I feel like I’m in deep.”

                She said, “I can see why. It looks deep – but you’re doing an exceptional job with it.” She also said she felt inspired to write about tough subjects herself, but she wasn’t sure where she would start. One thing I’ve realized over years of writing is that my writing is the most inspired, the most convicting, and the most difficult when I’m spiritually where I’m supposed to be. When I’m in tune with the still small voice speaking to me as I write.

                And at the moment, the still, small voice is pretty loud.

What about you? Have you ever felt convicted to write about something you aren’t sure you’re ready for? Is there a Christian work on this subject that I’m missing, or not? Did any of this surprise you?

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34 thoughts on “//about acceso + writing the tough things

  1. You’re amazing and like I’ve said over and over these past few days: I’m proud of you. ^_^ I’m glad you’re tackling the darker issues because that’s something a lot of people don’t like to do. But it needs to be done. And I feel that you have the skill and conviction you need to tackle it. I really do.

    Have you ever been on Matt Fradd’s website? He’s all about fighting porn; he’s snarky; he’s honest; he backs up his claims with a lot of information; he’s to the point. I think you’d really like his style. Here’s a link if you’re interested: http://mattfradd.com/. (He is Catholic, but his porn articles are for everyone. He’s even coming out with a book on the problems of porn from a non-religious standpoint.)

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  2. Though not quite on the level you’re talking about, I’ve found myself needing to write in my Merlin books about the difficulty of getting a habitual sin out of your life once it’s settled in. There’s a character who commits an act of sorcery in the first book, and a large part of his struggle for the rest of the series hinges on his struggle not to fall into that again, because despite his intentions and the knowledge that what he did was wrong, the temptation crops up all the time, and it doesn’t always look like a bad thing in the moment.

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  3. In fiction, you’ve been beat by one of the best ;) Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and her newer one Bridge to Haven both revolve around that topic and the machine that abuses men and women.

    In Gods At War (Kyle Idleman) there’s an amazing story of a porn producer and how Christ redeemed and rescued him.

    I would offer these three observations:

    1.) the firestorm you walked through has the same root as the topic that you are writing about (shame, fear, secrets and sin) kinda interesting, no?

    2.) Whatever you’ve read about the topic, read twice as much about purity and holiness and the opposite of what you are researching (whatever is true, lovely, etc that command is there for a very good reason)

    3.) Pray. Pray more now than you have before. Double up on your Bible study. Avoid shows or books that have a level of promiscuity in them. Shun them. Get others to pray for you, and about this topic that you are handling. This is like tap-dancing in a mind field. Sometimes its necessary to do so–and you very well could be called to do so. But stick close to Christ and keep your guard up. Someone is not going to be happy about you working on this topic. And while they are defeated, they never play nice.

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    1. 1.) IT IS interesting. God really brought/is bringing this al together. 2.) That is an /amazing/ idea. 3) I AM. BELIEVE ME. <3 Now I want to listen to 'Dancing in the Minefields.' Also, REDEEMING LOVE! I /did/ read that, when I was sixteen. And while it's not the modern industry, it's definitely similar – huzzah!

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        1. :D I thought you were watching what you let into the gates but I have to catch myself and go WHAT ARE YOU LETTING INTO THE EYE GATES, WHAT SCRIBE WHAT, WHAT ARE YOU LETTING INTO THE EAR GATES WHAT SCRIBE WHAT (yes, I talk to myself in capitals, doesn’t everyone?)

          //also what it is with the sneak attacks recently in fiction where I’m reading along and all of a sudden the book jumps from PG to PG-13 Shadows is fantastic but I was like O_O and then I was like >.< can I keep reading and then I was like O_< and then I was like *whew* ._. //

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          1. I generally find that most books tend to dump the worst stuff right at the beginning, but not ALWAYS. It’s a funny thing. XD EYE GATES. YES. And I talk to myself in all caps or italics so. XD

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    2. I love the depth and insight of this comment! I love that Mirriam has friends like you who embrace the iron sharpening iron of Christianity! Keep encouraging her, and chastising when necessary! Spiritual depth is not a common thing, and seeing so much in Mirriam’s friends continues to bless me!! Thank you!

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    3. This comment was a helpful reminder to me – particularly point #2

      I’m “forced,” in a way, to write about tough issues a lot (though I don’t publish much of it). I work to end abortion, so I’m faced with real-life stories constantly, and in order to process them, I write (a mixture of fact, fiction, and poetry).

      Balancing (maybe I should say outweighing, after Scarletdippedscribe’s reminder) the evil I face with the lovely and true is so important. That’s why I hold babies any chance I can get and have stepped out of my comfort zone to worship through dance at Synagogue (me? dancing? who’d have thought??).

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  4. That was kinda the feeling I got from Accesso the last time you sent it to me. Something about the last version I read was just a little off, but I had a feeling it might go in that direction. (Weren’t we discussing something about my supposed psychic abilities the other day?) And the fact that it is in fact what you’re going to do with this story makes me even more intrigued. You know it’s one of my favorites of yours ;)

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  5. I like writing about broken families, but more importantly the healing that has to go on, but I have this unjustified, (but crippling) fear that people will look at me weird when they read my writing, written by this Christian teenager from a wonderful family who likes to write about the broken families.

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    1. It’s like the story of the English teacher who pulled out all the deep meaning from a line in a poem stating ‘the curtains were blue.’ When in reality, all the author meant was ‘I like the color blue. So, the curtains were blue.’ XD

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  6. Okay, everyone — Acceso is a book that even in its unfinished state has helped me immeasureably. The porn industry is a terrible, terrible thing, and I am SO proud of Mirriam for jumping head-long into talking about it. We as human beings need to know what we’re up against.
    And I’m also here to say that I was a porn addict myself. Not as bad as many have it, but I was addicted. But I’ve changed. If anyone here struggles with porn, there IS hope. If you pray and rely on Christ and do your /best/ to focus on the good and turn away from the bad, you will be blessed and you will feel a higher level of joy and peace than ever before. Guilt is a terrible thing, and when you let go of porn those feelings wash away. It gets easier. It’s hard to let go of, just like any sin, but the rewards are /so, so, so/ much greater in the end. You won’t regret it.
    We got this, guys. <3

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  7. Like Cat above, Acceso hits me very deeply and at some times it’s hard for me to read certain scenes. But I’ve told Mirriam so many times about so many different subjects: I trust her. I know she doesn’t take anything like this lightly; she knows how serious an issue it is, and she’s writing to help and give hope to those struggling with every aspect of this issue. For someone who has experienced sexual abuse, I can testify that she’s doing a wonderful job of bringing the ugly truth to the page in the most loving and gentle way anyone ever could.

    I love you, Mirri.

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  8. I haven’t commented here yet, but I have long appreciated your writing, art, and person. Your posts of the last few days have resonated with me, and this was the “last straw” in the sense that here I am, commenting.

    I absolutely love this. I cannot explain in words how much I approve of this step. I applaud you for taking it and writing the hard things. Thank you.

    You go girl.

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  9. “One thing I’ve realized over years of writing is that my writing is the most inspired, the most convicting, and the most difficult when I’m spiritually where I’m supposed to be. When I’m in tune with the still small voice speaking to me as I write. And at the moment, the still, small voice is pretty loud.”

    DEAR MIRRIAM…. THIS is the key.

    I am so proud of you for writing as the Lord leads, and for waiting for Him to allow things to fall into place so it will be the work it was meant to be. Isn’t that how our own lives work? We get so impatient with the work and growth we do or do not see, but it is God’s perfect timing? Now I am even more anxious to read ACCESSO. I was already asking you about it. God knows why he allows lives to intersect; why He allows ideas to sprout, flourish grow; why He puts some of us in certain paths. It is not always easy to face the nitty gritty of life, but I am so grateful for you putting your talent to good use to shine Light on darkness, Hope in distress, Clarity to misunderstanding and odd notions. May God bless and keep you on this journey on which He also has you. May He use your writing and art for HIS glory, to do just as He says, “To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke…” (Isaiah 58: 6) In Jesus’ name and power I pray, AMEN! <3

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  10. Wow I have to read this new version. I loved the concept of Acceso from the very beginning and watching it progress to something real and raw like this, its going to be amazing. Porn is such a massive problem, that no one wants to talk about or knowledge. God is using your writing Mir. :D
    Oh, and can I beta Acceso?

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