I must warn you before I begin that there will be brutal honesty running amok in this post.
I must also tell you that whenever I hear the phrase “running amok” I flash back to my college days when my friends and I would pile into one dorm room to watch “Animaniacs.” Yakko, Wakko, and Dot would often run around chanting, “Amok! Amok! Amok!” Sorry… I just had to share that.
Back in October, I typed the last word (pause for me to go roll on the floor in hysterical laughter) of my first novel. A little editing, a little tweaking, and I figured it was showtime! Let’s get this baby into the hands of some waiting publishers! Well, that’s what’s called ignorance. Ignorance on the part of the new novelist. I’m raising my hand, because I’m guilty. For some reason (and I really do know better) I just assumed that my edited rough draft would be enough. Uh, no, darlin’. That’s just an edited rough draft. Now the revision comes along.
Revision is a little bit like finding out that your baby novel needs a whole lot of amputations and transplants. Too many pages. Not enough conflict. The list goes on. I’ve spent about two months asking God what to do. Shorten or lengthen? Add or subract? New characters or old? I’ve never doubted that I’ve got the right story, but the telling has just never set well with me.
Well, Friday night a week ago, I woke up at straight-up midnight (how’s THAT for some symbolism?) with a scene in my head. I didn’t want Samantha to drag me out of bed to write her a scene, but I let her. And that led to a whole new round of praying: what is that particular scene all about? Because, I’ll tell you… it changes everything.
Or does it? I was reading/working through Jeff Gerke’s How to Find Your Story when God opened up the heavens and dropped TRUTH right onto the pages of my neon green notebook. This book that I’ve written? Ah, Jodie… that’s book two. Samantha’s story is much deeper, much harder, and it has to start before the first line of what you’ve written. See, Sam’s started to figure it all out by the time the finished book opens. Poor girl, she’s got to get dragged through the mud and to face some serious demons (in herself and in one other person) before she can even begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The reason I could never figure out what to do with the third third of the finished book is because it had nothing to do with what God wanted me to say. I just refused to hear Him tell me that the first six hundred times He tried. I wanted to do it my way (aka “the easy way”).
So why’d God let me write book two first? Because Sam’s story is personal to me. And He knew that–nine months ago–I would have dug in my feet and never, ever written what He is now asking me to write. I would have never set myself down in front of the computer and written one word. I’d have been as rebellious as they come, screaming at him that I wll absolutely not go there! My God is a smart God… He led me to this place gradually and when He knew I’d be willing.
So, now I know where I’m going. The signs are posted. And I’m excited again. I debated erasing all of my earlier waffling back-and-forth posts, but then I decided not to. I’m going to be as honest as possible about the writing process, even when it highlights my own arrogance, ignorance, and indecision. One thing God has taught me is that somewhere, somebody else is feeling the same way. It’s nice to know you’re not alone…