Monday, April 15, 2013
The Little Things
I have written almost 15,000 words of a manuscript for a mystery/comedy novel set in 1953. I realized a few weeks ago that I had come to a vital part of the plot and needed to plan out carefully what was going to happen next, so I sat down and wrote a general outline of the rest of the story, and then wrote character profiles detailing the desires, difficulties, and ultimate outcomes of each of my main characters.
As I went back over the manuscript making sure all the details fit the plot I now had in mind, I found one small thing that needed some thought. One of the characters receives a letter talking about something of his aunt's which has gone missing, would he come find it, etc.; what I needed was for the letter to in fact talk about the "belfry" (the bells have gone missing) but be misread by the recipient as something else.
Hm. What rhymes with belfry? Nothing I could think of, and nothing that a rhyming dictionary came up with either. Not even near rhymes. Well, I thought, it doesn't have to be a rhyme; it just has to look similar enough that you could believe someone would confuse the two if written sloppily.
But I kept coming up empty. Finally, I took a look back at my manuscript and found what I had written before: the letter appears to be talking about "crockery." Crockery! Perfect! Similar ending, similar word length. This will do well for my purposes. I even wrote both words out and found that I can easily morph "belfry" into "crockery." The misreading as "crockery" even led to the setup of a joke that was already accidentally in the text, though I had not seen in before.
Then I thought, you know what this means? This means that before I'd planned out my plot and decided upon the belfry as the point of contention between Charles Barnaby and Keaton Pendry, God had already known the plot and been sowing little helps and jokes into the text ahead of me as I wrote. Unknowingly, innocently, my text was coming together.
It's a small reassurance, but it gives me surprising joy. I have always felt when I'm writing that I'm not alone when I'm doing it. My mind is expanded beyond it's own capacity like I'm creating this story with someone else, sharing suggestions and building off each other. I think that when we're creative, we are in some ways communicating very directly with God, the ultimate creator and artist. And I know my craft is his, not just in the process, but in its dissemination If and when my manuscript is successfully published is up to him. It's quite a relief from the stress most authors face.
These little graces are what give me joy throughout my day. The little things are what change my perspective on events in my life and help me see the silver lining. Even when the positive isn't visible yet, simple joys are what give me the strength to imagine what the good will be when it is revealed. Because there's always a good side. Nothing is on accident. Nothing is lost or forgotten, no matter how small.
By Liz Mallory