Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Grace-filled Tuesdays (Book Club "Meeting" #28): Writing...about Writing

When I go too long without doing it, I really miss writing.
In the new office in our house in VA that I share with my husband:
a vintage typewriter, bought at a consignment shop in NH for $65.
It was something I thought a writer ought to have.
That's not to say that I believe I'm a particularly good writer; it's just that I have a burning need to write.  It's an exercise that feeds my soul.  I love words.  I love figuring out how to arrange them best so that they say just what it is I want them to say.  Not that I'm always successful, mind you; but the process of messing around with them is just so. much. FUN.

I suppose that's why blogging has been such a good outlet for me for the past six years--and why I keep coming back to it, even when I think I've got nothing interesting to say anymore.

I became a writer relatively late in life, after decades of being a stay-at-home-mom.  When I started working on what I was sure would be my one and only novel in 2007, I was 49, my oldest son was a year out of college and a newly-minted officer in the Army, my youngest son was a freshman in high school, and the three sons in between were away at college.  Unless it was summertime or the college-aged boys were home on a holiday break, I was often alone in the house during those writing days, down in my basement "office."  I might still be in my bathrobe at 2:30 in the afternoon, if it was a particularly productive session (with my first cup of coffee on the desk, long forgotten and cold--an almost unheard of scenario for me, if you know how much coffee I usually drink, and proof that writing completely took over my thoughts and energies).  Even though I never really believed that all those painstakingly created pages would actually be published or read by anyone outside of my inner circle of friends and family, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing for its own sake.

During the almost five years that I spent writing and re-writing--and for the umpteenth time, re-writing!--Finding Grace (with plenty of breaks, of course, when I had to close up shop for days or weeks at a time to attend to the needs of my husband and my boys), I was so happy.  Sometimes when I was working on the dialogue between Grace and Tom, or Grace and Jimmy, in a scene that really tickled me,  I'd realize that I had a silly grin on my face as I tapped away on the keys of my laptop.  "Yes, that's it!"  I would think, often saying it out loud.  "That's just what he would say in that situation!"  What an indescribable joy that was, spending those years getting to know that cast of characters who became like friends to me.  I miss spending that time with them, I really do.

Some days, though, I would ask myself why in the world I was dedicating countless hours to a fictional story that few people (if anyone) would ever read; my generous and ridiculously supportive husband, however, would tell me that if it made me happy to write, that was enough.  But I couldn't help but wonder: does someone deserve to devote so much time to an activity merely because it makes her happy to do so?  That seemed rather frivolous and self-indulgent to me, and I worried that perhaps my days would have been better spent doing more tangible good in the world.

What I must remind myself on an almost daily basis is that God has not given us all the same talents and skill sets.  Some of His children have personalities and abilities that make them suited for very big and visible ways of making a difference in the world; and some of them are more introverted and shy, and must do their work in quieter ways, behind the scenes.  I become tongue-tied in most situations where face-to-face, I am asked to explain or defend my Faith.  But I can sit at my keyboard and pour out my beliefs through the written word.  I have let my books' characters speak for me at times, and pray that God will appreciate the effort I've made to use them for His greater glory and not my own.

I have an idea for another novel, a work of historical fiction that would be a sort of sequel to Erin's Ring (in that it would involve the same young girls, now a few years older and learning about another fascinating and little-known historical event in the Catholic Church).  So far, however, I have not been able to get disciplined enough to get past the first two chapters.  I would need to do quite a bit of research, and I'm daunted by that prospect.  Pray for me, will you?  Because there is a beautiful story about Mary's intercession, about an event that happened right here in our country and about which most people probably know very little, that I truly believe needs to be told.  I want so badly to write it--not for myself, because I think it will lead to commercial success or professional recognition, but for the greater glory of God and His Blessed Mother.
You know, I just realized that it's Tuesday, so this little post filled with book talk has officially become the latest installment of the Grace-filled Tuesdays Book Club.  I hope you've been enjoying your coffee while you followed along.  As for me, there's a half-drunk mug of cold coffee on my desk that needs warming up.  And I can assure you, there will be a second cup!

Before we adjourn, though, I have one question for you.  If you read Finding Grace, did you find the end satisfying?  Did you think Grace ended up with the right boy?  Were you "Team Tom" or "Team Jimmy"?  (I guess that's technically three questions.)
I'm not sure why I felt the need to add that image.  It doesn't remind me of my Grace Kelly and the two young men in her life in the least.  But it's obviously supposed to depict a couple of sweet kids on prom night, a night which plays an important part in the book.  (And the bottom line is that I've just always been a big fan of Norman Rockwell's all-American artwork.)

Okay then, until next time...

12 comments:

  1. Yes! Write it!! :-) We'll be praying for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gulp. Maybe I actually will write it one day.

      Delete
  2. Definitely write it. I think when it's time, it will come. Research is my favorite. (That is the scholar in me. I would stay in school forever if that was a career.) I will pray for you. And I think the ending to Finding Grace was just right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for your comments, Madeline. I like the research process; but I also get a little stressed about making sure I get the details right, and figuring out how to whittle it all down and deciding which bits and pieces of info I need to inject into the story (and the ones I don't have to include). I could never write non-fiction history books. That would totally intimidate me!

      Delete
  3. Yes! Praying for you to write a sequel, intrigued as to this little known historical event, will always get me.
    As for the ending of Grace, totally happy with her choice but....as I've shared/encouraged you before, I feel some of the other characters have a story to tell. I want to know their story, and Grace could remake appearances :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erin, I would love nothing more than to write a sequel to Finding Grace, because I absolutely fell in love with those characters (some of whom were initially inspired by real people in my life, but by the end of the book had become whole new people who didn't really resemble anyone I knew). But when I was writing it, I had the definite idea that THIS WAS IT, this was the only book I would ever write. And when I was finished, I couldn't imagine revisiting those characters. But I do miss them. So who knows? <3

      This historical event is so amazing, and I can't believe I knew nothing about it until my daughter-in-law's parents mentioned it to me and said it would make a great backdrop for an historical novel. I would love to write one; but I'm still in the "I'm too intimidated about doing the event justice" phase. I shall pray for the courage to get it done--and thank you for praying for me, too.

      Delete
  4. I'll look forward to reading your new novel when you write it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I ever write it, Patrice, I might ask you to be a beta-reader. But that's a big if, at this point...
      :)

      Delete
  5. If this is what we think you have in mind, this project definitely needs to be done. We will keep praying for you. Like, Fr. Flanagan of Boy's Town once said, "the work will continue because it is God's work..." Pray that it be his and it will get done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's what you think. And If I ever have the guts to do it, I will have you to thank for the inspiration.

      Thanks for your prayers. I know that if God means for me to do it, I will.

      Delete
  6. Please write It! We need more fiction books that explain/defend the Faith

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your encouragement means so much to me. I will pray about it!

      Delete