New Day Dawning
I didn't think there was any joy left in this world after Cliff left. In fact, the whole month of May - the anniversary of his death - I was in a real funk. This funk lasted into June.
Then in July in desperation I started to think of the coming winter to make plans. I worried about the end of November (the day Candace disappeared) which is always tough, so in the past I've always planned an art event - or something like that - for the last week in November.
Last year we launched Cliff's book, Chasing the Light, which filled me with deep satisfaction - perhaps not joy - but definitely all kinds of good feelings. Perhaps another book launch? But the book I am currently working on is another book on forgiveness and it won't be ready - my publisher tells me. So what to do?
My dear son reminded me that I do have a book that has been sitting in the wings for two decades - why not release it?
Actually I do have a book that I wrote a long time ago under a pseudonym but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to release it again. It was a romance - a failed romance.
Ever since grade school when I had borrowed a Christian romance, a Grace Livingstone Hill book, from our church library, I had wanted to write a romance book just like her. Actually all I ever wanted to be was a romance writer.
As a teen I remember writing them in a makeshift office in our old barn pounding them out on an ancient Underwriter typewriter. But I couldn’t write the kiss scene since I’d never been kissed – not for lack of opportunity - but I was so idealistic back then. I didn’t believe in kissing until they proposed marriage. I never did finish the manuscripts.
Then after I was married – I kept trying but never got very far.
Finally I decided to write a historical romance set in the Mennonite culture - so fun.
To prepare, I took a Mennonite history course at the U of W, went on a trip to Russia and interviewed my father who was a natural story teller. Our family stories were dramatic. We were Mennonites of British background with hints of blue blood.
Finally, two decades ago, I was able to finish my first romance novel. I then self published a few copies in secret - just to see if it would find readers looking for escapism. I was terribly disappointed that everyone who read it fell in love with the wrong character. I decided that even though I enjoyed the writing – I didn’t have have the skill it took to write a romance. (Besides the “forgiveness” theme seemed to follow me and demand attention so I very deliberately put it out of my mind and forgot about the failed attempt.)
Except my son, who had helped me plot the intrigue of the book, remembered it and wanted me to pull it out and revamp it.
To please him, I pulled it out and reread it. Even though the romance was lacking, I was surprised that I had captured some of the tension of a Mennonite girl growing up in a mayor’s home in the Kuban villages. It was actually quite good.
And now that Cliff is gone the lure of romance writing has new meaning.
So I took on the challenge and started to rewrite it. It’s called Lavish Mercy. I have to admit I found great joy in writing about love - the allure, the tensions and the beauty of that first kiss.
Perhaps after all these years I am actually a romance writer. Wow! What fun! I have found a new joy.
I'm already into the next.
“A writer - and, I believe, generally all persons - must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.” - Jorge Luis Borges