Saturday, February 20, 2010

Be Still...

A couple of week ago I found myself in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, a little resort village in the heart of Door County. Some dear friends own a vacation home there and graciously allow me to set up shop when I need to get some writing done. I got a lot of rewriting done and a jump-start on my new novel. It was heavenly.

My pup, Murphy, was with me, a 13-week-old furry ball who is in training to be my writing companion. I have visions of him lying in my lap one day or at my feet all cozied up while I transfer profound words from my soul to the page. I imagine him encouraging me with a wag of the tail or a gentle lick to my face when I struggle over my prose. Right now though, all he really wants to do is chew on my toes.

Besides writing, I used my time there to wrestle a bit with God. You see I was feeling a distance from Him that wasn’t comfortable with. He hadn’t gone anywhere, but I seemed to have gone AWOL. I didn’t like how I’d been behaving lately. There was something about it that embarrassed me and puzzled me. I allowed things to come out of my mouth that shouldn’t. Harsh words. Thoughtless words. Uncaring words. They lingered in my mouth like raw eggs. Who is this person? I didn’t know her. And, I didn’t like her much.

Have you ever been surprised by your actions or words? Have you ever reacted or done something that seemed so out or character from who you believe yourself to be? You’re convince that your body has been taken over by someone as nauseous as that Cruella DeVil, the bad lady who wanted to slaughter all those lovely Dalmatian puppies to make herself a fur coat, Well, that would’ve be me. Nope, Murphy didn’t need to fear for his life. His little hide wouldn’t make much of a coat for a Barbie doll, much less some one as big as me. However, I’d lost my way just as sure as Ms. DeVil did when she ordered the deaths of those 101 precious Dalmatians.

God loves me. He’s forgiven me. But He wants me to be better than this. I needed Him to show me the way back. So, that week as I wrote, I also took some time out to listen. I was still and awaited. And, when I felt His hand on my shoulder, I felt the DeVil in me sling away under His holy touch. It was a good week.

“Be still and know that I am God…”

Monday, February 1, 2010

Putting The Book To Bed

Last week I had a little ceremony to participate in. It was a quiet ceremony attended by only me.
I finished writing, MAN FROM MACEDONIA, MY LIFE OF SERVICE, STRUGGLE, FAITH & HOPE at the end of the summer. The book is at the printers and hopefully by the end of the month, I will be holding the finished product in my hand, yet in my office, I still had my files out and my ‘storyboard’ up on the wall.

With all the editing that had to be done from manuscript to galley, I kept the storyboard up and my files at the ready—just in case. And I’m glad I did, because during the editing process, I needed to go back several times and check a fact or two. When you write a book that spans several decades, let me tell, you have lots of notes and files and photos and interviews and timelines and… the list goes on. And, when your story intertwines with historical events that are very well documented, you need to have your resources on hand, at all times.

But, that’s all done now. So, the very last act for me, as the writer of this project was to pack it all away. It was the putting the horse out to pasture, or the putting the baby to bed ceremony. With the packing and labeling of storage boxes and the taking down of my Post-it Note storyboard, this project came to an official end.

Tears flowed a bit as I looked over my wall. The section headings, once only vague ideas that, three-years ago, were only written in my head, are now forever recorded on the pages of the book. File folders with marker scratchings all over them and stuffed with news clippings, photos, and timelines are now bedded down in two storage boxes taped shut.

My wall is once again empty and needs a fresh coat of paint, by the way. But my file drawer is not. Already about, five or six folders are laying on the bottom, as research has begun on the new book., a novel this time. In fact, eight chapters are already written. I even woke in the middle of the night last night trying to figure out a plot twist. And so it begins.

MAN should be out and available by the end of February. I hope you buy a copy and enjoy meeting a remarkable man. I certainly enjoyed introducing him to you. But now, I have a mystery to solve and a new character to flesh out. And, I’m sure it won’t be long before my wall will be covered in Post its once again. How else will I figure out how a police dog ends up in a graveyard by himself one spooky night? Gotta go, I’ve a new package of bright blue sticky notes to crack open.