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.
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.
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.)
Okay then, until next time...