By Chandra Smith
In March I shared about a dream one of my ancestors had that inspired one of my manuscripts. I encouraged you to dream your stories. Anyone who has been writing for a while understands when discouragement comes, it is easy to give up and go sit in the corner of insecurity.
I am a professional dog trainer. Naturally, my manuscripts have canine characters. My current manuscript has three unique canine characters, each inspired by a real dog I either owned or trained. The German Shepherd in the story is based on a rescue I trained several years ago. We’ll call her ‘Gretta’ since that is her name in the story.
Gretta’s first day with me was traumatic. She cowered in the corner and refused to move. When I even spoke to her she growled and trembled. I could not get her to come to the gate for me to leash her and take her outside. I finally did something I would never recommend anyone do. I closed myself inside the kennel with her, sat on the opposite floor and talked to her. I didn’t touch her or look at her. I had a one-sided conversation with her. A few more minutes passed and she laid down facing me. Then she scooted towards me. Some.
I don’t really know how much time passed, it felt like hours, but it was more than just a few minutes. Little by little, Gretta scooted towards me until she was lying beside me. She was close enough I could easily touch her, but I didn’t. I waited longer. Gretta looked up at me with her big brown eyes, sighed heavily and then placed her head on my lap. I gently rubbed her head, massaged her ears, and when she rolled over and gave me her belly I scratched it. I clipped the leash on her collar and we went outside for a wonderful walk.
With patience and perseverance Gretta came out of her fearful-corner into life as a beloved family pet. She is a major character in my current work-in-progress. I think Gretta can teach all of us something about our writing.
If you have a story to tell, tell it. You can sit in the corner afraid of another rejection red-marked critique, or bad contest score. You can tremble and be afraid to step out of your corner. Or you can listen to the calm voice talking to you about your writing and your stories and relax a little. Scoot a little closer to the voice of the One who gives your stories as He encourages you to write. Lean against Him and allow His mercy and grace to rush into your heart. Then rise and write.
My challenge today is to be ‘Gretta.’ Come on out of your corner and write your story. Trust the Maker of the Stories. He’s given you something to write and knows where He wants it to go. I look forward to reading it one day.
Chandra Smith has been a member of ACFW since 2006. She is a 2016 Genesis Semi-Finalist, 2015 Genesis Winner, 2013 and 2014 Genesis semi-finalist, and a 2014 bronze medalist in the MBT Frasier contest. Chandra is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owns Best Friend Dog Training. She writes the column Letters From the Dog House for The Evening Sun. She lives on a small farm in South Central Pennsylvania with her husband, four sons, and four dogs. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary fiction. Her stories are filled with faith, forgiveness, and lovable canine characters.