By Suzanne Bratcher
Most of the writers I know personally are, like me, newly published. Almost all of us write in spite of daunting life challenges. One friend home schools her four small children. Another one works forty hours a week. A third friend provides full-time care for a grandmother suffering from dementia. My life challenge is medical: I live with Multiple Sclerosis. MS isn’t a common disease, but it isn’t rare either. You may know someone who has MS, or you may have it yourself. But if you’re not familiar with this neurological disease, its symptoms vary widely, depending on which nerves are affected. Two characteristics, however, seem universal: unpredictable relapses and bouts of overwhelming, non-negotiable fatigue.
My second book, a mystery titled The Silver Lode, goes on pre-order today and releases Friday. I was about halfway through the first draft when I realized I wasn’t going to meet my publisher’s deadline. For one thing, the story required three points of view, something I’d never attempted. For another, my MS fatigue was on a collision course with my writing schedule. Like every writer I know in ACFW, I feel called to write the stories God gives me. Therefore, I reasoned, God would supply me the energy I needed. I would be able to write four hours a day instead of two. But as C.S. Lewis makes clear in the Chronicles of Narnia, God is not a tame lion. God’s ways are not our ways, and God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we expect. I didn’t get extra energy or extra hours of writing done each week. The days sped by, and I got farther and farther behind schedule.
As I wrote my way into Act Three, Paul Russell, the protagonist, is searching for his kidnapped son against a ticking clock. When he is about to panic, he suddenly remembers Philippians 4:13 and says aloud, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, even find Scott before…” I stopped mid-paragraph. The focus scripture for The Silver Lode is the Jeremiah story about the spoiled vessel. I hadn’t planned to use Philippians! That’s when I realized the Holy Spirit gave me that verse. From then on whenever I sat down to write, I said aloud, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, even finish this scene before I crash.”
Fast forward to the end of that writing journey. Did I meet my deadline? No, but my publisher extended grace by giving me three extra weeks. Did I turn in a polished manuscript? No, but the first editor reminded me about the pesky adverbs that creep into my writing when I’m not vigilant. As I searched for and eliminated adverbs, I found awkward sentences to rewrite and paragraphs to cut. The revised manuscript that went to the line editor was in much better shape, and the final manuscript that went to the publisher may be the best writing I’ve done yet.
So, yes, friends, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us if we trust God with each story and with each day we are given to write.We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us--even finish writing a book.@AuthorBratcher #ACFWBlogs #writetip #writing Click To Tweet
A mystery fan since her first encounter with Nancy Drew, Suzanne J. Bratcher writes mysteries and romantic suspense set in the Southwest. The Silver Lode follows The Copper Box in her Jerome, Arizona, mystery trilogy. Visit her webpage at www.suzannebratcher.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @AuthorBratcher.