Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Revisions...Revisited.

          I originally wrote this post over a year ago. Today, I'm still revising. 
          A published author once told me that her first novel was the hardest and took a very long time. She said that she learned so much during that first novel, the others flowed much more easily from the first. That's encouraging, but for now I struggle to get the first one right. 
          Writing a novel is a test of will. I will do this. I will, I will, I will...
              I was talking to a friend about the message of my novel.  The story has many messages I suppose, but perhaps the most important one is the message of grace.  I want to share the truth that no one of us is better than another; that we are flawed and imperfect and perfectly redeemable.  
            I filled my story with imperfect people making mistakes and doing harm.  One character, though, remained less tainted than the rest.  Claire—my main character.  She was a little anxious, but otherwise filled with faith and good will.  Bless her.  What a gem. 
            My beta readers weren’t as impressed with Claire as I was.  They said she was boring.  They said she lacked excitement.  They said she was too safe.  She was. She is the stay-at-home mom married to the cop who always had a wonderful attitude about life’s challenges.  A Pollyanna.  Yawn.  The thing is, I’m writing what I know, Claire was a cleaned-up version of what I hoped I could be. 
            I am not as wonderful as Claire.  My attitude stinks.  I’ve entertained angry, unkind thoughts about my husband and sometimes I judge people unfairly and I am selfish.  My house is often messy and I waste more time than I’d like to admit and I’ve withheld forgiveness more times than I can count. 
            Claire was fiction at its finest.
            So, I got to work on her.  If my life was the inspiration for Claire, she was going to have to gain some flaws, angst and ugliness.  I was going to have to let her fail.  Allow her to be stupid and selfish and wrong.  She was going to have to suffer shame.  
            Why?
            Because if I’m going to write about grace, I have to give grace a dark place to go, so the light of grace can shine brightly.
            I showered Claire with flaws and angst and ugliness so that my readers will care and relate and possibly see themselves in her story.  It hurt to do it because I share some of her flaws—what if people think I’ve done those things?  And there it is.  A truth.  People don’t relate to perfect Christians who have it all together and can show us how to have it all together too.  They relate to real, broken, messed up people who had to scrape and scratch their way to God's grace.  What if people think I’m just like Claire (because the resemblances are pretty stunning)?  Well, maybe they’ll relate and feel a sisterhood and realize they can find sweet grace too.  

            I celebrate with Claire as she overcomes the bondage of sin and anger.  I celebrate with her as her eyes open to the joy found in giving and receiving grace.  I have grown along with Claire as I’ve helped her find her way.  
          As the revisions continue, I am thankful for the opportunity to improve my manuscript. I’m even more thankful that in real life, we can revise our story too.  There’s plenty of grace to go around.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Wisdom of Old Photos

I love to buy old photos, one at a time or in great big lots.
I've accumulated a huge collection of other people's memories.
If you think about it, photos are finite.
Sure, we're taking more photos today than at any time in the past, but...
They're digital.
You don't hold them in your hand unless you're holding your phone.
Paper, covered with an image, a snapshot of the past, is a thing of the past.
That's why I collect them.
I want to learn about and, more importantly, learn from a time long past.
Which brings me to this photo.
I picked it up on a vacation somewhere.
I was drawn to the image of a funeral but more than that, all the flowers.
That's a ridiculous amount of flowers.
You don't see that many arrangements at funerals these days.
I don't know who this person is, likely just a Joe or Joan Average.
I almost didn't buy this photo, but before I threw it back into the pile, I turned it over.
"Again I say - Say it, write it, but please let someone know."
I'm not sure what the writer meant.
Did they mean to tell your family you love them?
Did they want to convey the importance of telling your stories?
Your secrets?
Confessing wrongdoing?
Making amends?
An interesting caption for a heartbreaking photo.

I recently lost my dad.
I took the time to write him a letter before he passed.
I told him how thankful I am that he was my father.
What his influence meant to me in my life.
How precious his relationships with my husband and children were to me...and to them.
How my life was made better because of his presence in it.
And it was good.
He was blessed.
I was comforted to know he knew.
And when he passed, there were no unsaid words.
No unexpressed gratitude.
No regrets.
We don't always know when someone will die, though.

This photo reminds me how important words are...Say it, write it...Please let someone know.