Today’s post is by author Laura L. Smith. Please enjoy!
I walked into the first day of my freshman year of high school with an armload of notebooks covered in stickers of my favorite bands like New Order and U2. I wore a new pair of jeans and an Esprit top I got back-to-school shopping with my mom, my best friend, Jamie, and her mom. I was full of excitement, like the bright designs on my crisp shirt. I was full of expectation like the blank notebooks ready to have ideas and histories written in them, problems solved in them and daydreams doodled in their margins.
By the time I graduated, most of my friends were no longer virgins. My parents were separated. I’d been to countless parties with kegs and kids spilling over kitchen floors. I watched friends get hospitalized for eating disorders and mental breakdowns while other friends were tossed in jail for shoplifting, trespassing or possession.
Being a Christian did not make me immune to reality.
I grew up in a Christian household. We went to church on Sundays recited, “God is great, God is good …” before dinner and “Now I lay me down to sleep…” before bed. I memorized the books of the Bible, the Ten Commandments and the Twenty-Third Psalm. But over the dinner table we never talked about our faith, about trusting Christ, about His glorious forgiveness or enduring love, about seeking Him always in all things.
And I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t armed to be brave and strong in the scenarios my teen years threw at me. I panicked. Sometimes I caved. I wish I could say I made good choices. Sometimes I did. But I made plenty of bad choices too. I let myself, my friends, my family and worst of all, God, down.
Things haven’t changed in high schools today. Teens wear Sperrys and Minnetonka moccasins, leggings and riding boots, just like I did years ago. I know, I know, there are cell phones now and social media and Netflix, but the highs and lows of high school remain the same. The struggles with relationships, pressures to get good grades and perform well in sports, the overwhelming emotions and desires to be accepted, to fit in, all while trying to have fun and maneuver family life still resonate.
And so, I write real stories for real girls. There are no fairy godmothers or magic wands. Magical beasts don’t fill my pages nor do Prince Charmings. Instead I write about people like me, about characters who are multiple shades of people I know. I write about tough issues that no one wants to talk about. Things that stop a conversation at a dinner party in its tracks, or really heat it up. I write about eating disorders and sex and divorce and death and rape. I write about things that so many people deal with in the dark, in their personal “closets”, alone. I write to give them a voice, a sounding board, a place to start.
Christ forgave me for the mistakes I made in high school. He pulled me out of my most shameful moments. I’m stronger now—better equipped to face tragedy and trials when they come my way. More comfortable in my own skin, so I’m less prone to needing to prove myself or impress, but it’s been a journey. A journey of faith. If any of my books can help someone get back on track, remember they are loved, see a ray of hope in the midst of their darkness, or arm them for what’s in store, then I have done my job.
I’ve always been able to relate to fiction, to put myself in the shoes of characters. Sometimes it’s easier to pick up a book about a character with an eating disorder than to admit you need help with your own eating disorder. We all have personal struggles. I write what I write to let young women know they are not alone. And that no matter what, no matter what alley of life they’ve gone down, no matter what tragedy or trauma has hit them over their heads, Christ is with them, every step of the way.
Laura L. Smith lives in the college town of Oxford, Ohio with her husband and four children. She writes real stories for real girls including; Skinny, Hot, Angry, It’s Complicated and It’s Over. You can find her at www.laurasmithauthor.com
Her latest novel, It’s Addicting, the third installment of the Status Updates series finds four college sophomore roommates finally getting comfy with the routines of dorm life. But Kat, Claire, Palmer, and Hannah soon begin to feel the nagging ache of innocent little addictions pulling them away from their true selves. Hang out with these four roomies to see if they can—or even want to—ditch these sneaky little hang-ups before they take over their lives. It’s Addicting releases July 14!