Today is the day The Bridge to Home, my first novel, launches, or officially goes on sale on Amazon and other online outlets. It’s a big day for me, having spent the better part of the last four years gestating this project. It won’t be marked by parades or bells or a count-down at Cape Canaveral, but it feels like all of that.
It’s a solitary thing, writing a book. I spent all this time, hunched over my computer and notebooks, in a world that existed only in my head, with people that no one else in the world knew. I came to know them so well that they were like my inner circle of friends and family, except that my inner circle of friends and family didn’t know any of them existed.
For most of this time, they’ve lived their entire lives in my heart and mind. Last year my husband, Bob, met them for the first time. He liked them, but thought they should make a few changes. How rude! Then my editor Kathryn met them. She felt the same way. They were interesting and engaging, but could stand to make a few changes. Believe me, I was affronted, on their behalf and fought for them long and hard. Perhaps the hardest thing about writing is having to accept criticism of your beloveds. What if you gave birth to a baby and your friends said, “Well, he’s cute, but he’s a little slow and this freckle over here seems pointless. . .” Eventually though, I had to admit that my characters weren’t perfect. Who is, right? And that they might benefit from a few changes. Paraphrasing the oft proffered writing advice, Stephen King said, “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” I killed some off, changed a thing or two about others. Editing is hard and painful, but crucial.
Finally, the folks at Astute Communications in Nashville, who are mid-wifing The Bridge to Home into this world, read it. Then my daughters and a couple of trusted friends. They all seemed to feel about the inhabitants of Gideon, the same way I did, they loved them!
These characters have always been alive to me. From the first when Mai Zinni appeared to me in a dream, and Jane May and John manifested on the page and Sophie walked out of the mist in a vision. . . they have been completely alive for me. But each time someone else encounters them and engages with them, they take on even more life. They are being breathed into existence.
The writing process is a co-creation between writer and Muse. There is an outside force at work that can not be denied. I am a channel, of sorts. I bring my own voice, vocabulary, and skills to the table, but I don’t do this alone. Every time I sat down at the computer, I was surprised by something. Occasionally the surprises were huge and some of them I fought. One of the characters died and I didn’t want that. I didn’t plan it and I didn’t want it and I tried to write around it so that that character could live. But it was not to be. There is really no arguing with the Muse. I grieved when I wrote those scenes, though.
If writing is a co-creation between the writer and the Muse, reading is a co-creation between the reader and the writer. Each reader will bring something of themselves to the work, based upon their own experiences and their worldview. I’m ready for that now. I welcome it.
It is a privilege and an honor to add to the river of voices speaking now to our world in this time. It is my wish that this book should find its way into the hands of all who will resonate with it and that they would breathe more life into it, causing it to fully come into its own. To light up.
The book is no longer mine. It belongs to the world. It is my offering. May it have wings.