See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Song of Solomon 2:11
Believe it or not, a good book does not always flow from a writer’s mind to paper like a gushing spring. Sometimes, it is a barely visible trickle deep underground that has to be released with lots of digging and struggle. On occasion, I wake up in the morning with the story already visualized in my head. The characters have been speaking to me in my dreams, but unfortunately, that is rare. Most often, I have to prepare myself to write by clearing my head and to do list, closing my mind to any other distractions and with intense focus, force the story alive, like a bulb stored in the refrigerator all year only to be placed in the winter sunshine. The process of writing can be more discouraging than exhilarating. Recently, God, through Amazon in a modern day miracle, presented me a wonderful gift, a book written by the author I hope to imitate, Eugenia Price. If you have heard me speak, you know that her books were a turning point in my young life. Comprehending that she wrote about real characters in historical times, I decided I wanted to be like her when I grew up. My career goal has always been to present history in creative ways. Now, almost fifty years later, I am blessed to follow in her footsteps inspiring others just as she uplifted me. This book, The Diary of a Novel: The Story of Writing Margaret’s Story, details Price’s writing and research process. It describes her struggles and her joys in ways that exactly illustrate my own. The book, suggested by Amazon and purchased with “one click”, arrived during a particularly difficult writing season when I wrestled with an extremely nasty character (of my own invention). Even I didn’t want to be around him. How could I make him appealing to a reader? Price’s encouragement prepared me for the match. The final bell rang on that story, and I am now onto a new one. I am very grateful that Price recorded her own journey as a writer so that I would not feel alone in mine. Particularly helpful was Price’s list of goals for her books, what she called the reasons that she writes. Summarized, the four objectives are:
- Tell a good story and provide an escape from our hectic, troubled and monotonous lives.
- Share examples from the past to give perspective and courage for the present and future.
- Show God’s divine intervention and involvement with human life.
- Affirm hope and beauty.
If I had written a list of my goals, they would be exactly the same. So, on the days when I try to clear the muck from my mind to reach deep for a good story, I remember Price’s understanding which is also my own and dig a little deeper. It is what she did. It is what I do. Because underneath the mess of life and history, is a great story, where “the past becomes present.”