I will teach you hidden lessons from our past. Psalm 78:2 (NLT)
Thick into the research for Caroline’s Story, I am constantly amazed at what God reveals as I correlate the life of my character with the current events of her time. The timeline for Caroline’s Story will be easy to produce as I uncover so much information not only about her but about what was happening around her. Caroline was the daughter-in-law of Eliza Fogarty and the setting for the story is from the 1890s until the late 1910s. Bradenton had a newspaper at that time. While the community was much smaller than it is today, social events were numerous and the newspaper reported on them in detail. Intricate descriptions of weddings and parties fill the pages along with school programs and church activities. Travel outside of the community made headlines as did the arrival of visitors and new residents. Birth records and obituaries summarize life’s bookends while advertisements tell what was available in the stores and the latest fashions. In addition to newspapers, my story is hung upon government documents such as probate files, deed books, marriage licenses and court records. Photography also is more common in this time period so I can actually see my characters facial expressions and mannerisms. There is even an oral history interview with Caroline when she was in her nineties. While I have a few colleagues to share my excitement over my finds and the inspiration that they give for the storyline, soon, I will enter the lonelier phase of writing, sitting at the computer night after night putting the story onto the page. That’s the time you start to wonder at your sanity as you rise from your bed in the middle of the night to get your ideas onto paper or find yourself rehearsing dialogue while in the shower. My new phone with its ability to take “dictation” is a treasure when the spark of creativity strikes while I am driving down the road. I can put some cryptic notes onto my phone, enough to remember the direction I would like to take, all without taking my hands off the steering wheel. But, sometimes, I would like someone other than the phone to talk to. That’s why I went to my first meeting of a Christian writer’s group tonight. It was an interesting mix of people but we had two things in common. The longing to express our thoughts through words and the desire to glorify God in all we say and do. I enjoyed hearing about everyone’s projects and we talked about places we are stuck in our writing or techniques that we employ. Mostly, I just liked knowing that I am not alone even though I spend so much time face to the computer screen, fingers on the keyboard, blocking out the world around me as I let the feelings and emotions of imaginary characters flow through me. It’s comforting to know I am not the only storyteller in our community. Even more encouraging to know I am not insane.