Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For the first time in more than a decade, I stayed awake until midnight on New Year's Eve.

I wanted to see 2010 go away.

A year of strife. Family died, friends died. Cancers, brain tumors, strokes, heart attacks. Financial ruin for even the hardest workers. Jobs evaporated. What seemed like good marriages got struck down. Close relationships fractured, past drug addictions roared back to life.

There were days last year when I felt like I was tiptoeing through a field of tall grass embedded with land mines. More often than usual, my family huddled, forming a tight knot of human hope, praying for hearts and minds and help.

God is sovereign; everything flows into his larger plan, even the bad stuff. Especially the bad stuff. During his time on earth, God's own son repeated this truth over and again -- and then was mocked, scourged, nailed to a cross, and killed by religious people.

And I'm weary from one tough year?

I am human. Sometimes that walk from here to eternity feels like the longest path ever taken. But I'm also a writer and it seems as if writers -- those who choose to take up this difficult calling --- get issued a sort of dual citizenship. The worst circumstances in the world provide the best material for the imagination: It's the really rotten childhood that gives us Angela's Ashes. 

But only eventually.

Wordsworth said that poetry came from "emotion recalled in tranquility." I think most really good books come from writers who gaze into the rear view mirror and describe what they see, while still moving forward.

But every writer faces certain battles. The first battle is sitting down to work. And the biggest battle might be finding quiet time to think, to work through the land mine detonations in order to figure out what you're really trying to say.

"If you cannot express yourself on any subject, struggle until you can," writes the great Oswald Chambers. "The author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in you for utterance."

Writers conquer their particular battles in any number of ways; I've been helped by an army. Without my family, particularly my husband the Italian Stallion, none of it would happen. And in a previous post I mentioned my agent, Brian Peterson.

But I've also been blessed by my editor at Thomas Nelson publishing.

Amanda Bostic holds the stopwatch -- and cattle prod -- for all my deadlines. By the grace of God I've managed to make every deadline.

Until this year.

When it comes out in March, I know readers will enjoy "The Mountains Bow Down." And they'll enjoy the next book, coming in 2012, "The Stars Shine Bright." But they'll probably never realize what went on behind the scenes to get these books out on schedule, and still offer this writer time to wrestle with words, to struggle with what she really wants to say.

The constraints of publishing don't allow for such words to appear inside a book's cover, but I'd like to post a Public Service Announcement.

It goes like this:

"These novels are brought to you by a gracious and word-loving editor who adjusted her tight schedule so that you could read a better book. It's a thankless job."


Amanda Bostic, Thomas Nelson: Thank you for the time.


  1. Am glad to know that my year wasn't the only one full of such depth that my heart quivers a bit just to recall it all...somehow, it makes me feel more seen and loved as I remember that I am not alone.

    Praying this year is a year of replenishing for you and yours...and strength for the moments when it isn't.

    ...am sure you have blessed a few behind the scenes hearts with this post :o)

  2. Bina-Sabina-Bina -- did you write about your year? You must. Don't waste that material!