Susan K. Beatty
Let’s Talk about Courage
Let’s talk about the “c” word. No, not that Covid-19 “c” word. The more powerful “C” word.
I know we could discuss this all day. But while discussions may inform the head, they don’t usually touch the heart. On the other hand, stories—#BecauseFiction—well, that’s another story. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.)
That’s why I write true-to-life tales that exhibit courage found at the intersection of faith and grit, stories that hopefully will encourage and inspire others.
With the world events as they are today, the Lord knows we need inspiration and courage. (I’m not alone here, right?) But long after our current situation is resolved, we will continue to need courage, in both the big and small details of our lives, for as long as we live.
My Daughter is My Courage Inspiration
My inspiration to write about courage came because of what I saw in my daughter’s life as she has journeyed through three bouts of breast cancer with the second bout placing her in the metastatic breast cancer category. Her faith and her courage have grown exponentially over the past ten years. She models them to her husband, young son and step-daughter, and the communities she is involved with. To say nothing of the rest of our extended family—including me.
See why courage is at the heart of what I write?
I set out to write a novel about a woman facing many issues in her life, including breast cancer. As I worked on that novel, other stories were born.
The Novel Inspired Faces of Courage Series
My first published fiction, the novelette House of Courage is about a woman with metastatic breast cancer, although that isn’t the core of the story. The focus is on her finding her source of courage in the face of a family crisis. (EBook released September, 2019.)
My second novelette Isobel’s Mission of Courage tells the story of a missionary home on leave and her journey through breast cancer treatment. The outer journey is complicated by her inner struggle to discover the foundation of her motives to serve. (EBook to be released this summer.)
A future novelette, Carmen’s Journey of Courage, will show how a woman finds her courage to face her past mistakes and redeem herself in the eyes of her family whom she hurt.
The main characters in these three novelettes appear in that first novel, Faces of Courage. (To be released May, 2021.) In the story, Olivia, the main character, must find her many faces of courage as she deals with a host of major difficulties, an abusive marriage, her health, and a daunting ministry opportunity.
God Uses Trials for Good
The Lord is using my daughter’s trials for good. She is my expert consultant on all things breast cancer. While these stories reflect her courage, they are not her stories. Her experience was different, and she’ll share it one day.
So what is courage? Where does it come from? What does it look like?
I invite you to follow along as I explore the answers through story.
Gifts! Everyone likes gifts, so I want to give you “Legacy of Courage,” a short story from Faces of Courage, free to everyone who subscribes to my newsletter. But wait! There’s more. (Sounds like a TV commercial, right? But I really do have more for you.) I have another gift from my heart to yours in each issue: a flash fiction devotional about courage, something we all need in these difficult times.
Remember courage is the more powerful word, available to those who trust God.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV
I lack imagination. A bold confession for a writer, wouldn’t you say? It’s true. That’s why I don’t do fantasy—don’t write it, read it, or watch it.
“What do you mean you’ve never seen Lord of the Rings?” my husband asked me years ago. “But you’ve read the trilogy, right?”
Sorry to disappoint. But, no.
As a Christian writer, anything J.R. Tolkien’s written is a must read. But if I can’t imagine living it, I can’t bother to read it. This is one reason I find writers of fantasy fascinating. The way their minds must work to create vivid worlds that don’t exist is beyond me.
When I heard the advice write what you know, I took it seriously—which, for years, made me struggle with the dream God put on my heart. And I do believe it’s a gift from God. Or as Monk would say, “It’s a gift. And a curse.” Because I can’t not write. It’s infiltrated every part of my life since the age of twelve.
Aside from a lack of imagination, I’m very practical. Another black mark against me as a writer. Being practical, I pursued teaching as a career choice. At least teaching would bring in an income, and I could dabble with the writing on the side. During school breaks, I tried my hand at romance novels, but whatever I wrote seemed trite, bland and uninspiring.
Then sixteen years ago, everything changed.
I went through what I refer to as “my season.” We’ve all had them, and most likely we’ll have them again. It’s that period of time where God allows every conceivable fear to become a reality. I believe this happened in my life for various reasons, the first of which was to get me on my knees before Him and surrender my life (did I mention I was a control freak?) Then, of course, there’s the subsequent character development that comes from being stripped of everything I held dear.
Write what you know.
And after years of struggling with my writing purpose, I’d finally lived. It wasn’t pretty, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but God has a way of taking the ugliness of our lives and making something beautiful from it. And that’s when I knew. Although I’m a romantic at heart, I wasn’t meant to write romance novels.
I was to take the brokenness and pain of nearly losing my daughter in a car accident, my first husband’s abandonment after 23 years of marriage, my mother’s death from leukemia, my brother’s suicide…you get the picture. I stepped up to the podium at my brother’s funeral eleven years ago and heard God say, “This is your story.”
And by a twist of fate, (or by the hand of God) Providence, the first novel I wrote after that great revelation, will actually be the third published in the Apple Hill Series, not due to release until April of next year. Writing that novel was a cathartic exercise, as it was inspired by my brother’s suicide. The tone was somewhat dark and heavy, because I felt dark and heavy (spiritually speaking) at the time. I couldn’t align my brother’s faith with his actions—and neither could my main character make sense of her husband’s choice to end his life, leaving his family lost and broken.
My second novel, Illusions, was inspired by my daughter’s car accident, coma and struggle with traumatic brain injury, but it didn’t carry the same heaviness. I clearly saw that God’s hand in her life increased her faith in Jesus. And what momma doesn’t want that for her child? This novel is scheduled to release on April 28th, but it is now available for pre-order.
And then there’s my first novel, Surrendered, which was released last April. The idea for that book came while writing Providence, because Tess O’Shay had a minor role in that story. She was written out in the second draft, but the essence of her character remained with me, like someone you meet briefly and can’t get out of your head. I had a synopsis and a plan, yet as I started writing, I realized the tone of my writing had changed. It was snappy, light and fun.
I’ve since gone back and re-written Providence to better reflect the tone of my life. It was cloaked in wool, and the heaviness was too much for even me. I’ve come to trust that even in the darkest moments of our lives, God is working it for our good and His glory. The call to write isn’t about selling books, it’s about offering hope even when there seems to be none.
I have to wonder if it’s the same for other writers. I remember the day my daughter shared with me that her college English class had just read The Tell-Tale Heart. “The character in that story had issues,” she said. I’ve read the story numerous times, as it was in the eighth-grade anthology when I was teaching. “Poe had issues,” I responded. And I recalled how he died alone, penniless and seemingly unsuccessful. Didn’t the darkness of his writing reflect his own broken journey?
We live in perilous times and there is a sense of panic in those who have no relationship with Jesus Christ. Let’s be honest, even those who have a relationship can easily fall prey to fear. I like to reflect back to the dark times in my life and how God has redeemed every one of them. When we put our hope in the One who created us, we need not fear how our journey will end. I pray that sense of hope is reflected in everything I write.