Why Worthy

Today’s post by Marybeth Whalen | @MarybethWhalen

One of the questions we asked at our #Read event recently was, “Why this book?” And what we meant by that was, of all the ideas you’ve had and all the directions your writing could go, why did you choose to write this particular book at this particular time? It’s a valid question, and one I think all writers should be able to answer about the book they’re working on. Because I think that, of course I make sure I can answer it myself.

So why this book? Why did I write When We Were Worthy?

I have teenagers. And as the parent of teenagers I understand the duality of this role. On one side you’re their parent, and you want to shield them from life with every fiber of your being. On the other, you remember being a teenager, and therefore you understand where they’re coming from. You remember the emotions, the exhilaration, the anticipation of that stage of life. And so you spend much of your parenting caught between these two realities– of shielding and letting go. You say things you wish you didn’t and you feel things you never knew possible and somehow you navigate it all. And when you fail– because you will– you learn to say I’m sorry.  I have three mothers of teens– Marglyn, Darcy, and Leah’s mom– in this novel, and they’re all just winging it. I thought that was an important message to share. I wanted to show the struggle within this role, and the ultimate satisfaction that comes from just hanging in there and doing the best you can.

I wanted to write about women who feel marginalized, victimized, and are trying to figure out how to move on. They are strong, but they have forgotten it. Both on the larger stage and in my own personal life, I see this far too often. And I wanted to write about fighting to get back on top of your life no matter how knocked down you are. I wanted to depict women who, yes, bad things happen to. But who don’t stay there. I wanted to show them figuring things out, standing up for themselves. The epigraph at the beginning of the novel is “I am not what has happened to me. I am who I choose to become.” (Carl Jung) That pretty much sums it up. I want to inspire women to live that way.

Every writer has a theme they circle back to again and again. For me that theme is secrets– and how damaging they can be. If you ever spend any time with me you find out that I’m sometimes brutally honest. I’m not sure that’s the best way to be but it’s my approach simply because I hate secrets so much. They are toxic, and their poison leeches into everything. As a writer, I like to depict that through stories. And in this story there are plenty of secrets! Not only do I like to talk about how damaging secrets can be, I also know that discovering just what those secrets are will have readers turning pages. Which is what every writer wants when they sit down at the computer each day.

So that’s a brief look at why I was compelled to tell this story at this time. I hope you will read it. I hope you will find it satisfying. And I hope it will inspire you.

9 Responses to Why Worthy

  1. Lynn September 25, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    This emotional story is a rollercoaster read filled with secrets, lies, tragedy, guilt, sadness, loyalty, and forgiveness. The choices made, whether good or bad certainly had consequences for the people of Worthy.

    I thought the title of the book was very apt for the story that was told and the cover was captivating. This was a great page turning read
    and I loved the book.

  2. Jill Hannah Anderson September 25, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    Your book sounds very interesting! I really enjoyed The Things We Wish Were True, and yes, secrets are such an important part in plot twists. None of us are perfect and we all have secrets from at some point in our life. Well, maybe not you. 😉

    I talk about this at my book events because when I ask the people in the audience if any of them can raise their hand and say they’ve never done anything they regretted, nobody raises their hand. While what we regret may not be a secret, it is usually something we’d rather not have people know about us.

    And I love what you wrote about teenagers. I used to tell my teens I wanted them to have fun but I also wanted them safe. We all remember what it was like to be that age and the tough choices they face.
    This sounds like a fantastic read!

  3. marybeth September 25, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    Lynn– thank you for your kind words! And Jill thank you for sharing WORTHY on your blog!

  4. Anita September 26, 2017 at 10:17 pm #

    I have just started this in audio, and I love having this backstory Marybeth. Thank you so much.

  5. Heather Bell Adams October 16, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    Marybeth, I loved this book and what you share about it here – I was especially glad to be reminded of the lovely–and very appropriate–epigraph.

  6. Misty Barnes December 11, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    I can not put this book down!! It is the best book I’ve read in a long time. I had such high hopes of getting through that never-ending Christmas list this weekend, but I kept sneaking away to read your book. It is so sad but so honest. Life can change so quickly when we are distracted. I’m going to finish it today, if I don’t get caught reading on the job, haha!!!

  7. Marybeth Whalen January 8, 2018 at 10:17 pm #

    Misty– thank you so much for letting me know you liked the book. I got sick in mid December and it seems I am just now looking up! But I do SO appreciate you taking the time to let me know. Hope you didn’t get in trouble for reading on the job!

  8. Misty barnes January 9, 2018 at 10:17 am #

    I work at a public library. We can slip in a little “proof-reading” every now and again. I finished it quickly. Loved how it ends. I have 12 and 10 year old girls. Scares me so to think of what ifs like this.

  9. Marybeth Whslen January 9, 2018 at 10:17 am #

    You work at a library? That falls in dream job category around here!! 🙂

    As for having daughters and a story scaring you– I wrote the story while my middle daughter was exactly the age of the girls I was writing about. It darn near made me crazy, as you can imagine.

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