The Story Behind a Novel of the Heart

May 21, 2016

 

It was a dark and stormy night. At least—that’s how my dream upwards of nine years ago began. Someone was caught in a horrible thunderstorm, in dense woods, and when lightning struck a dead tree limb, it fell—pinning the then-faceless victim to the ground and paralyzing her. And then I woke up.

 

Having always held a fascination for American history, enjoying the old TV show The Waltons and having stories from my great-grandmother deeply instilled in me all contributed to me choosing the Great Depression as the setting of my novel. I crafted a story world around that one dream, and the history that stories my mom shared from my great grandmother, old family photos and the countless books I paged through. All of this made the framework for the novel of my heart.

 

That last word there—heart? God’s work on my own was what got this novel finished. Correction: finished multiple times. Two drafts, one deep content edit, countless read-throughs and most recently—a thorough overhaul edit were all simply catalysts for Him to do a total heart-overhaul in me.

 

Many of the struggles and heartaches I put my characters through mirrored much of what I was wrestling with in those tender years between thirteen and twenty. Having hip dysplasia and resulting chronic pain to deal with as well as family members’ illnesses and new-normals abounding, writing God’s Will was my place to process.

 

Laughingly I often tell people that my novel’s semi-autobiographical because not only is it such a huge part of my heart, but it is filled with family memories and traditions or even little idiosyncrasies of family members woven into the fabric of the story.

 

 The father-daughter moments that got me all teary writing them? Me and my dad. The older sister and little brother relationship between Kathy and Danny Andrews—me and my (little at the time) brother Ronnie who has since passed me up in height. And Judy Marshall—stoic, faith-filled matriarch of the whole clan—is a cross between my mother and grandmother. And is incidentally named for my grandmother, who is one of my best friends. I will never forget the first time I handed my grandmother a copy of my book, and had her read the dedication. What’s so all-God amazing about this? I got to give my grandmother a new and improved copy of my novel just a few days ago when we got down to North Carolina for vacation.

 

A common catchphrase around the writer world—sometimes a cliché, sometimes a hard truth—is the age-old phrase, “Write what you know.” Deeper than simply writing from your experience, I believe this means to maintain a connection between your head and heart as you type away on whatever story you’re writing. It’s never good to compartmentalize-away what you’re struggling with as something completely separate from your writing—oftentimes it can show, and cause writer’s block. This is one reason there are supposed to be multiple drafts of a novel—the first of which is for getting it all out. Everything. Use life, struggles, heartaches, hopes fulfilled, hopes deferred, to fuel your writing and not only will it shine brighter—but God will grow you in the process. And after multiple drafts, multiple stages of refining away the dross, the process will only serve to bring more glory to God, the Author and Finisher of our work-in-progress faith and our written works-in-progress.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Meghan M. Gorecki is an author of inspirational fiction, a blogger, book reviewer and voracious reader. Taking her life a day at a time as God leads, she is pursuing a career in the publishing industry as an editor in training and as a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. A hopeless romantic, history and Marvel nut, she's also a redhead (thanks to a box), who knows way too much trivia about movie musicals and the Civil War. Find her on social media and at her blog, A Northern Belle (www.northernbellemeg.com)

 

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