First, Stories Dwell in the Lives of Others
Recently, with the published copy of Braking Points In my hands, I sat down and reread it. That may seem odd to some, but it refreshed me and it reminded me of the bits and pieces of others’ lives lived on those pages in the lives of Max and Lily, Amanda, Millie, Sophia. Why? Because in listening to the stories of friends and acquaintances over scores of years and sometimes even writing them down, I had a vast treasure trove that I barely tapped writing the novel. I woke up this morning filled with gratitude for the experiences of others that tap into my imagination and fuel my expression of those in words. I especially was thinking of my friend Judy, who has a gift for relating every day events in ways that never cease to make me laugh. In my early morning meandering a story, she told me over lunch last week, brought a smile to my face, then a chuckle and then diabolical as I am I started to think how I could use it in my current novel.
Second, Stories Dwell in the World Around, in the News, in Books
Beyond the political news or maybe sometimes even in the midst of that, there are stories that beg to be told. Writers tend to be observers. Not all are introverts who watch, listen, read and turn it all over in their heads. Some are extroverts who jump into every fray, expounding of every issue, gathering others around them, but it is in their approach to life that stories later to be transferred into words on a page or these days words on a screen are conceived. There are folks who scour news stories, magazine articles, and travel guides finding kernels of ideas, ‘what if’s’, that beg to be fleshed out and written. For me, even a turn of phrase in something I hear or read will set my writer’s wheels turning. I recently read the following quote in my morning quiet time from a devotion by Christine Caine:
“Our race would be easy if God kept us in the “strength zone” in our lives, but instead, he consistently pushes us into our “weakness zone,” because it is in our weakness that he is made strong” Christine Caine
What caught my attention was her use of the words, “weakness zone,” which started my thoughts rolling around in my head. With that as a starting point I began to create a story, with setting and two characters to start, a mother and a daughter–always a complex situation. Later that day, I read on Facebook about what a Rainbow Child was, the child born after a miscarriage, stillbirth or early demise of a sibling. And I began the construct of a story I wanted to jump into and write.
Third, Stories Dwell in Who I am, in My Faith, My Worldview, My Backstory
I read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, and usually it doesn’t take me long to get a feel for the author’s worldview. I learn a great deal that way, even from worldviews widely separate from mine. I find at the core we are all more alike than different. I find life stories similar to my own but told from a point 180 degrees out from my own. I seek to understand others by reading a divergent crop of material.
However, when I write, I cannot adopt another worldview and have words, thoughts, conversations flow onto the page. I do at times include characters with different worldviews. My reading and conversations with friends, family, random folk do, I hope, allow me to portray other views truthfully and with empathy of our shared humanity. Even then my faith in God and Jesus Christ guides me. Above all else to love. Want to know what books I discard quickly, books that bleed animosity and hatred onto the page, especially toward people groups.
Stories dwell everywhere. Stories that long to be told. In everyone there lies a true story of their life, and in everyone’s story there is also a novel to be written. I may have started later than others but I long to tell the stories that will capture even a few readers’ hearts. And I intend to read all the stories others write as well–at least as many as I can.