By Lenora Livingston
In my seventy-six years of living, never once in my wildest dreams did I ever envision myself writing a novel. No, not me, no way! In my school days, I always cringed at the very thought of rough drafts and rewriting themes and term papers. If I couldn’t write it right the first time forget it. It wasn’t worth writing. Besides my aversion to the technical side of writing, was my acceptance to the fact that writing novels was for creative people and being creative was definitely not my forte.
When I was a child, my father, who was a published writer, gave me some advice that stuck with me and enabled me to write Where’s Stephanie? almost seven decades later. He said that if I ever decided to write a book, I should write it at a level where the average person can read it without difficulty. He explained that most people don’t like to stop what they’re reading to consult a dictionary to figure out what is being said. He explained that keeping writing simple would attract more readers and sell more books. I’ve had readers tell me that one reason they were attracted to Where’s Stephanie? was because it was an easy read, making it the first book they had read in many years.
Oh, how I envy novelists. They can start with a blank page and create a whole novel by building characters and relationships, establishing settings, creating problems and solving solutions, and creating stories within stories. Their creative talent is such an incredibly wonderful gift from God. My writing background includes writing poetry, short stories, programs for schools, reporting school news to newspapers. I even wrote a history book. But none of this required the kind of creative genes that novelists have.
So, how did I write Where’s Stephanie? It’s simple. I didn’t write it, God did. He choreographed the entire story, presented it to me, and used me as His instrument to tell one of His countless stories as my own. Because Where’s Stephanie? is based on a true story, I knew what factual parts needed to be written. Researching and recording that information didn’t require being creative, so I wrote those parts without much difficulty. The problem was, there were many parts where I had to create dialogue, plus I had to create events in order to fill in gaps and more adequately tell the story. At first, a very frustrating case of “writer’s block” kicked in and it was awkward creating those parts.
I looked to God for help. I soon felt that a power much greater than me was in control of my story. It was as if my hand was being led across the paper, writing words that made much better sense than they would have if I had been in control of what was being written. What an awesome experience. I knew what was happening and stayed with it. When finished I thanked God.
I didn’t need to be creative. I only needed to “let go” of trying to write my story and “let God” take over writing His story through me. I have been so blessed.
Besides writing two books, Lenora Livingston has written short stories; school programs, including a Character Education Word of the Month program; numerous newspaper articles and community newsletters. She earned her BA and MAT from the University of South Carolina, plus continued post masters studies at The Citadel. Visit her webpage at http://lenoralivingston.com and FaceBook page.