At its best, the sensation of writing is that of any unmerited grace. It is handed to you but only if you look for it. You search. You break your heart, your back, your brain and then and only then it is handed to you. From the corner of your eye, you see motion. Something is moving through the air and headed your way on two white wings. It flies directly at you. You can read your name on it. If it were a baseball, you 'd hit it out of the park. It is that one pitch in a thousand you see in slow-motion.~Annie Dilliard
This week I've included an excerpt from the book I'm currently working on. My working title, The Intensity Of Romantic Gestures, On Writing and Marriage. I've realized that my writing life is interlaced with the marital pathway, divine rhythms echoing through both stories. This piece reflects the time in my history with Giovanni when we still bridged geographical distance in our relationship. I turned to the page as a way to better manage the distance. Art brings healing, breathes courage into one's life, no matter the form or genre.
This is from the chapter entitled Verdant Lizard.
He gave me a quizzical look, his head tilted toward me. I could see the delicate pleating in the folds of his neck, his breaths in and out pulsing from his abdomen. I'd stopped, bent down and peered at the brightly verdant body of the anole perched on the deck railing. I could hardly believe the brilliance of his countenance. These vibrant green lizards seemed to appear almost magically. And when they made their presence known, I did not want the captivating spell of their beauty to end. And yet they always left too quickly, their delicate tails leaving a flourish as they exited.
That morning after the creature scampered to hidden quarters, I thought about what he could mean to the characters forming in my mind for the novel I wanted to write. I'd not begun the writing process, yet I was learning that the story begins ahead of the words that eventually pour onto the page. One day I'd felt a prompting from God, a voice in my mind that I'd began to understand was His--always encouraging, always loving, pulling me forward, "Yes, that's it; that's the way; don't be afraid; I'm with you. If you don't write the story, no one will. Go ahead. I'll help you."
I was beginning to understand that while my marriage to Giovanni was intricately woven into my history and current life, there was a second life born on the page as well; my writing life breathed again. A double portion, come in the mystery of distance--a lizard green as newly sprouted grass there to remind me.
Like all good things seen glimmering in the distance, there is a pathway that must be taken step-by-step to reach one's destination. The Missing God project was no different. I had mixed reviews from early readers--some loving it, others pointedly critical. I wasn't sure what direction to take. I felt hurt by the criticism and buoyed by the praise. Was the answer somewhere in the middle? Usually it is. I felt tempted to throw the manuscript in the trash. Who was I kidding? Who was I to think I could actually writed a novel? Then I dreamed.
I'd always been a person who dreamed, and I'd recorded many of the more unforgettable ones over the years. This dream, though, wasn't so much filled with images, but rather with a phrase. I heard very distinctly, "Butterflies in winter often chase away the losses."
I startled awake. What did I hear? I shook my head and almost laid back down. No. The phrase was too unusual, too remarkable. I rose from the bed, went to my study and quickly wrote down what I'd heard in the dream. And as I did so, again I heard another voice, a still, small voice in my mind. "This is for your story; one of your characters will have this dream; it will be the dream that saves her life." I smiled. God's breath, radiating light on the path.
Note: I did finish writing Missing God, the dream a significant part of the story, a "verdant lizard" on the novel's cover. If you wish, go to the book section here at the site and read an excerpt. And as always, kind reader, never give up on your art, your voice uniquely created by God to bring healing to the world.