Finding the Story

Finding my next novel to sink my mind into has been a long journey. Since finishing Polarity, I have had been through countless ideas, but none of them hooked me enough to get them off the ground floor. Polarity was a suspense novel but a bit of whimsy in the world, and I was desperate to be capture by another idea in the same way.

I thought that maybe I should write what I enjoy reading the most: domestic thrillers. I had several very intriguing ideas, but none of them found focus, and I struggled to flesh them out beyond the initial “what if” question. I invested a lot of time into these ideas, exploring location and characters and plots, and one day, maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to repurpose the best pieces for another story.

Then, I thought that maybe I should watch what I enjoy watching: spooky ghost stories. I am obsessed with Harpers Ferry, WV, having tried to write several stories in this location in the past. My husband took me on a mini vacation to finally see and explore Harpers Ferry in person at the end of 2019, and I was even more obsessed afterwards. I set my mind on a ghost story, hoping to get sucked in completely to the idea.

Discipline and determination can only get you so far.

Just in the same way that a good book can hook you on the first page and then you can’t stop reading until it’s finished, I have to get hooked by my story. It has to pull me in and make me believe that there are endless possibilities and a strong throughline. And none of the ideas I had were capturing me.

On the side, of course, I am writing musicals with my husband, and there was one idea that we kept discussing but Jeremy (by hubster) was firm that the story was overdone, even if done in an inauthentic way every time we had seen it turned into a movie, play, or musical. Plus, he argued, we had so many other great, unique ideas that were fresh.

But that story idea kept coming back to me with a passion, because it was a story that I wanted to have told without the whitewashing and rose-colored glasses. When you strip away the beauty montages, the love story, the perfect faith, there is a much more relatable and inspiring story. That was the story I wanted to be told by someone but every time I felt let down.

So, after years of casually studying the story, the history, the context, I knew I wanted to tell this story. That was over a year ago. And I kept putting it off for one reason: I didn’t want to write a Bible story. And I didn’t want people to be shook because all the things they imposed on the story had disappeared, or at least shifted in a darker direction. This story wasn’t VeggieTales, after all, so I set out to figure out a way to take away those reconceptions and present this story as something fresh. Something people would find themselves sinking into and forgetting, even for a moment, the story they grew up hearing.

And then the pieces began to fall into place this past summer. I had that burst of inspiration that helped me to finally find the lens through which I wanted to tell this story.

It has been so refreshing to be hooked, to be pulled in, to sink deeper and deeper in understanding of the world, the characters, and the story. My hope is that this story will refresh you as it has refreshed me; that these simple words would be a call to courage, to faith, to righteousness for you as they have become for me:

“Perhaps you have been chosen for such a time as this.”

Two Birds, One Stone

Yesterday, I won NaNoWriMo. 50k in 19 days.

Today, I finished the rough draft for Colors to Stars, (which is going to need a real title soon), totally at 73,056 words.

It is bittersweet to finish a project, especially one that has had so much of my heart in it. But it has been a very good journey so far, and especially in these past couple of days of writing I’ve had a lot of great personal insights. Some encouraging, but mostly convicting.

I’ve realized there are things I have been holding on to, thinking that they might help heal so many wounds. I’ve discovered that these things, which I explore in this novel, some times give temporary relief, or satisfcation, but they always demand more. And the price they require is great, one I am not willing to pay.Read More »

Moving Forward, Letting Go

I just finished Act 1 of Colors to Stars and I’tm already in analyzing mode. There might not be enough words. Should it be longer? Hmm. I can add a scene here and here without slowing down the pacing too much. Might even help it build better.

The only problem is, I have experienced time and time again, and heard from others over and over, that the priority of a first draft is not word counts or the perfect outline or seamless pacing: it’s to finish. So I have to do the hard thing and not go back. I have to keep writing, moving foward.

The nice thing is that my outline, while complete and leads between plot points smoothly (I hope!), leaves plenty of room for discovery. In fact, almost every single scene I’ve plotted has evolved much differently than I originally pictured. The start and finish lines are the same, but how the characters move from one to the other is a whole new adventure.Read More »