If I had known…
If I had known all the arduous effort, attention to detail, and mind-and-heart-breaking labor my first literary work would take, I probably wouldn’t have started.
It has been a labor of love from the first day, but I had no idea what a degree in creative writing would involve—even though it’s only a home-schooled course. If I had known, I might have chosen a different field.
Fortunately, I didn’t know.
Even more fortunate, this school has a fabulous Teacher. He knows the end from the beginning. He views a thousand years as only one day and one as a thousand.
My teacher knows that in order to heal, one must go back to the point of pain and doing that takes time.
It takes experiencing the healing process in the now, even if one turns gray in the meantime. For me, it meant setting my work aside for about twelve years, but my Teacher didn’t give up. It’s been messy. It will continue to be messy, but he continues to teach.
His most recent lesson, the one that brought this blog concept to the forefront, involves Point of View.
Disclaimer: The following includes shop talk. I know from experience how tedious shop talk can be for those not interested in the shop. I’ll try to make this succinct.
I studied the craft of writing stories. I wrote and wrote and rewrote and rewrote. I shared my manuscript baby. I cut out complete scenes. I pitched to publishers. I entered contests. I applied the judges’ suggestions. I submitted to publishers. I involved editors. I even lived life beyond writing. I submitted again.
The latest answer? “Resubmit when it is in Deep Point of View.”
Resubmit, for those not in the shop, is a very encouraging word from a publisher. It’s another word for “Your manuscript has potential…but…are you a serious writer? Really? Are you willing to stretch yourself more than you ever dreamed possible? If so, resubmit.”
Evidently, I was still telling too much and not showing enough. Still? Yep. After all my long nights and early mornings and solitude and tucked-in-around-living writing-time…after all my gray hair…it was still too easy for the reader to get out of the character’s head.
I bought a different book on deep point of view. I read and reread.
My “telling” statements began to pop out like hands waving in a classroom. I began my umpteenth edit.
“Now, I’m done,” I said. “I’m ready to resubmit.”
“Uh, not so fast,” said my Teacher. “Take a look at that blog. Yeah, that one, right there, on your email feed that you were about to delete. The one for writers that you subscribed to. The one with the headline about point of view.”
I opened the blog and learned that having the character’s name too many times in a scene distracts the reader. Pronouns work better. It was a simple point. The kind I should have recognized myself. Did I really want to resubmit with reader-distraction words embedded in my scenes? Messy work, this.
My Teacher had caught me just in time.
I am so ready for graduation. I’m ready to move to the next level as I start a new project, but these instances with my Teacher are worth all my work.
There’s no guarantee for a publishing contract. I may have to submit far into the future, but it’s all good because…
My Teacher controls the calendar and that’s OK with me.
“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4
On the subject of God’s school…
I’m including a little bonus for those who have read down this far. It’s one of those scenes I just told you about, out of my book. At this point in the story, Rose-Marie, the main character, is fourteen and just graduated from eighth grade. This is how she formed her ideas about being in God’s school. Matthew is a sixteen-year-old she has deep feelings for. Enjoy!
Whew. What a night. She slid off her shoes. What would Matthew’s card say? The bathroom would be private enough to find out.
On the front was an owl wearing a graduation cap with the word, “Congratulations.” Inside was the single word, “Smarty!” She chuckled. That rascal. Such a tease.
Even what Matthew had said under the streetlight had been half teasing, but it had also been true. You will enjoy dating. She squirmed, remembering. What else had he written?
Dear Rose-Marie, I found this quote and thought about your graduation. Something to remember: ‘The highest education possible is learning God’s will and God’s way. Build upon principles that are eternal, not on the principles of this world.’ Yours truly, Matthew.
What a way of making her laugh while making her think—all with one simple card. She would hide it in her Bible.
She slipped off her A-line dress with three-quarter bell sleeves. Its filmy outer layer with a leafy pattern in aqua, slid between her fingers. Pretty, but not sweet. She had sewn it for graduation., but with her graduation gown covering the dress most of the evening, Matthew hadn’t even seen it. Oh, well.
The house was quiet with everyone else in bed. A warm bath for relaxation would be just the thing.
God’s education? She lowered herself into the tub. God’s education was different than graduating from elementary school, high school, or college. And more important. Eternal salvation depended on how well she learned God’s lessons. She rubbed the soap, with its sweet bouquet, over her bare arms. How would she do in God’s school?