Tag Archives: old age

“Can I be two when I am only one?”

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“Can I be two when I am only one?”

Seems I’m just catching up with famous authors who influenced people like CS Lewis and R. J Tolkien.  I think the literary side of my brain took longer to develop. So here at 90  I’m discovering a new author–George Macdonald (don’t be shocked. I should have majored in English Lit at Wheaton College!)  I’ve never read his famous fantasy novel, Phantastes, which opened new doors for Lewis and influenced his return to Christianity. But on my way to 91,  I’ll put it on my Kindle to find out what impressed Lewis so.

I recently found a little book of Macdonald’s at my son’s home–Diary of an Old Soul. I certainly identified with the “old soul” part this morning as I moved deck furniture around and off—ready for a much-needed “power-washing.  I don’t identify with all of the 366 sonnets Macdonald wrote — but here’s one I heavily underlined:

Two things at once, thou know’st I cannot think.

When busy with the work thou givest me,

I cannot consciously think then of thee. 

Then why, when next thou lookest o’er the brink

Of my horizon, should my spirit shrink, 

Reproached and fearful, nor to greet thee run?

Can I be two when I am only one?

My problem exactly. Working at my desk, fashioning sentences, hunting for words, I am not consciously thinking of God’s direction.  But  even as He controls the universe, answers billions of prayers at once, sends His angels to protect and comfort His children, He remembers me. A thought too big to understand.

What a comfort to know that during the months– yes, years–I researched,wrote and rewrote Daughters of Deliverance,  and The Queen’s Daughters,  I felt God’s guidance and presence and encouragement when I  was too discouraged to go on. If you’ve read my books about Katharine Bushnell, perhaps you saw  godly insights or the development of Kate’s character  that reflected a touch of God– that for a moment said “yes” to Macdonald’s question.  “Can I be two when I am only one?”

 

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When Am I Too Old To Write?

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When Am I Too Old To Write?

In 1977 when my husband and I were home from South Africa for the summer, I took a fiction-writing class to complete my MA. My professor encouraged us to start outlining a novel from a newspaper article or an experience we’d had.  I found myself imagining a forbidden romance between a black girl and a white boy in South Africa under Apartheid.

When I handed in my outline I told the professor I had posted over my ‘typewriter’, LORD YOU WRITE- I’LL TYPE. He chided me to listen to God’s guidance, but that I had to do the writing.  I shouldn’t blame poor writing on God.

I had been picking up graduate classes here and there, even a few hours in Kenya , and at 51 years of age I walked down the aisle with  one of my undergraduate sons and two future grand-daughters-in-law.

The Writing Years

Fast forward almost thirty years during which I had published ten books– about missions, the role of women in the Bible and the church, biographies. And yes, that classroom assignment became my first novel, The Soweto Legacy. ( Amazon Kindle.)

Then a  friend challenged me, “Lorry you should write the story of Katharine Bushnell. Her life needs to be told.”

I wasn’t interested, but to please Mimi I began researching Bushnell, a medical doctor in the late nineteenth century. Bushnell was active in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and accepted Frances Willard’s invitation to work on the streets of Chicago with “fallen women.” My research at the Metropolitan University in London unearthed hand-written and carbon copies of reports of girls bought or coerced into the military brothels of the British Army–but no personal letters, journals, or stories of Katharine Bushnell’s life.  It would have been a dull biography at best.  A helpful literary agent suggested  I write her story as historical fiction..

As I was about to start writing, my husband, Al, was diagnosed with cancer during a frightening winter night in the ER. God please don’t take him.  We started the many trips for chemo. Thank you that he’s staying strong and feeling well. We sold our home and moved into a retirement home. Praise God. But in 2008 he peacefully left to be with Jesus. Can I come too?

Is this God’s will?

When I finally started to write again, I became discouraged. I’d never tackled as big a project as this. I needed a publisher, but none was interested. One suggested I hire an editor to bring the manuscript up to their requirements.  After a summer of rewriting, they turned me down. I was ready to give up.

One Sunday morning in December, 2013, I stayed in bed to do business with God.  I needed an answer.  Other responsibilities were challenging me in my community, yet I hesitated to take them on. God, do you want me to finish these books?  Are they really as important as ministering to people here in the retirement community? I need clear guidance if I’m to go on.

That morning Andy Stanley spoke about Nehemiah who had rebuilt Jerusalem’s wall. Sanballat and his cronies called him down for a chat, but Nehemiah knew they were planning to harm him.

He responded, “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come down.”

God’s Word spoke to me.  The “great work” was writing the story about His servant, Katharine Bushnell.  I “can’t come down” to stop my work until it is completed.  Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas accepted the manuscript.  They published Daughters of Deliverance   three years later And eight months after that–just five months before my 90th birthday—the sequel, The Queen’s Daughters saw the light.

Two books is like having twins in the birth canal

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Two weeks ago I received a contract for the second book in the series about Katharine Bushnell.  Kate, M.D. is a strong, resilient , courageous woman who encountered sex slavery in the nineteenth century and grappled with it as fiercely as a dog with a bone.

In my coming blogs I’ll talk more about Kate and the not-too-distant-in- the-future  publishing date.  But now I want to talk a little about the publishing process.Anyone who has offered a book to a publisher knows you wait — and wait– and wait.  You keep contacting your editor to see that he’s done everything that he can do.  He has.

But you can understand why I was anxious.  I’m 88 year old — even if you turn 88 around it’s still 88.  But like my brother who is 84, he could mistakenly type 48.  This is a great time of life for me. I’m healthy, no metal parts, and still love to write.  Besides that I don’t have to plan meals, cook them, clean the kitchen and flop on the couch too tired to do anything else. Like last night, I ate a light dinner (had a virtual feast in the Bistro at noon) and worked until ten-thirty.

But getting back to waiting.  Boundless (we’ll call book number one that) had been with another publisher for over a year.  In that process they asked would I please rewrite the book.  I did, and still waited– and then they said “no.”

But in the meantime my editor had found another publisher who was interested. So we managed to keep the two in hand– and when the first said no, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas said “yes.”

So after ten years in the process (far too long to use the birth canal idiom) I actually had a contract and an editor who knew how to gently pull the best out of me.  I’ll probably write about that sometime.

My title says “two books,” and yes book two, The Queen’s Daughters, was accepted two weeks ago. And the process begins all over again.

I don’t know many writers, so most people around me aren’t interested in hearing about the publishing process. Writing back cover copy, a synopsis of your book which took ten years in 35 words, how an endnote line has appeared at the top of the last 75 pages of the manuscript and you don’t know how to get rid of it–  maybe you’re interested.

If so, hang in there, and when I get back to writing my blog — sooner than four months like my last one — I’ll tell you more  of what it takes to publish a book.