Writing a book has been a life long dream of mine. I remember attempting to write books as a child, desiring to capture the ideal life any eight year old would dream to live, but would get frustrated when the story wouldn’t be as neatly narrated as my favourite chapter books. I would be further frustrated when the multi-coloured construction paper I chose for my book would tear or my hand would cramp from holding the crayon.
As years went on I never lost the desire to write a book but never really attempted it again. Writing a novel seemed too complicated and writing a book about my own experiences seemed out of the question as I felt my life was generally uninteresting and could never amount to a full book with chapters and all.
I had had many people from counsellors, friends, family members and even co-workers tell me I should write a book. Counsellors recommended the activity of writing out my story (not officially recommended in book form) as a way of processing what had happened over the last few years. Family members have been nagging me for years to write a book, but often told me I should write children’s books. As a side note, I did write a children’s book and even sent it off to a bunch of publishers. I received two rejection letters back and was elated! Just receiving a rejection letter confirmed for me that I had successfully stepped out of my comfort zone!
The counsellors recommendation of writing out my story is what stuck with me. It felt like a therapeutic task I needed to take on. Considering I already enjoyed writing I figured this would be a generally easy way for me to process and heal. When I first sat down to write Steady in the Storm I chose a book and chapter format as I needed to write as if I was telling my story to someone else as a way of capturing the vulnerability and ownership of telling my story. It didn’t really matter to me if someone actually read it in the end, but formatting it as a non-fiction chapter book made the most sense to me and gave me a grid of categorizing my thoughts.
The actual creative process of writing Steady in the Storm was inspired. Though the story, experiences and feelings of the book are all very true and personally lived the creative process of writing it was pure inspiration. I struggled with how this story would flow out and what the chapters would be called or how I would fill them. I felt a strong connection to God each time I sat down to write. I felt He would guide me in what I was to write next and even what it should sound like. I would clearly hear Him saying things like, “I want you to write about your fear.” and that was all. That was all I had to go on. I would sit down and think about my fear and what it had done to me, how it had held me back and how I had fostered a relationship with it all my life. Experiences or moments would come to mind where fear ruled the day and how that had transformed my experiences. I never took notes throughout the process to remember what I needed to jot down, nor did I draft up an outline, I would just sit down and write about my fear as instructed.
If God’s inspiration was on the chapter it would flow out seamlessly. Two hours would go by and a full chapter would been written before I knew it. Drawing from experiences in the past, creating parallels and points were effortlessly executed. Just as suddenly and effortlessly as the creative writing process poured out of me it would just as unexpectedly end and I would hear God say, “Ok, we can take a break now.” Often I wasn’t ready to take a break and would try to continue the narrative, but for the life of me could not get even one more sentence out. My mind would go blank and my ability to join words into coherent thoughts would dry up. There would be points mid-chapter or mid thought where God would ask me to pause and process what I had just written. This is usually when the healing process the counsellor referred to would bubble up and I would find myself in grief, bawling my eyes out. Sometimes I would just sit with the words and let them sink in, silently in pause, sometimes recalling the goodness of God would overwhelm me and I was filled with His kindness. It was a very healing process for me. This sort of inspiration lasted for the entire process of writing Steady in the Storm. God would tell me, “I want you to write how out of control you were”, or “Tell me about gratitude”. Usually when I heard these instructions I had no idea how to write a whole chapter about gratitude or being out of control, but I trusted the words would come when I sat down.
Just as God inspired me with the right words when I needed them he also kept me in line with conviction over what I was writing. It was very tempting to write about the traumas that had happened in order to play the victim and shame and blame others. I found myself starting down this road a few times in the book. Each time I felt a strong conviction and God reminding me this book was to be about me and him and that was all. If I could not get my point across by explaining my process it was not something I should be documenting. Easiest of all was the path down Rhett’s brokenness and his side of this story. I mention in the book it was very important to me to not paint Rhett in a negative light during the storm, equally so, it was vitally important that I maintained a stand of respect and honour for each person who played a role in our story. There were a couple paragraphs where I had gone down the road of victim and left them as part of the book for quite some time; however, God was adamant in his stance and I was adamant that this particular instance was justified in being mentioned. In the end God’s conviction won over my stubbornness and these portions of the book were deleted. I felt peace and confidence after that.
Now that Steady in the Storm is a published book my hope is it will inspire others to press through the difficult storms of life they are facing. I want people to know there is hope in the darkest of times. I want people to know that God is the most empathetic being you can connect with and He will provide you a way through, maybe not a way out, but a way through. I want people to know that God is inherently good, that He can work all things for His good. So many people believe God is purposefully taking them through dark things and they are being punished somehow. I don’t believe this at all. I believe we live in a fallen world and will be exposed to difficult times, but God’s goodness can supersede the darkness and craft it into something good. He will turn ALL things into good for those who love him. Nothing is unworkable to God, he can take anything in our lives and use it for His glory. That is my desire for this book, that he would take the darkness in my marriage and use it for His will, turn it into His goodness and claim back all the enemy has stolen. This is the hope of Jesus, nothing is beyond his restoration.