Remember the famous slogan from the movie, Love Story? Love means never having to say you’re sorry. Since the movie’s over forty years old, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to tell you it’s about two star-crossed college-age students who fall in love, and one is dying from leukemia. I understand love is about being accepted for who and what we are and being forgiven whether or not we ask. Quite simply, it’s unconditional. But what about this never saying you’re sorry business? I don’t know about you, but that’s not how my world operates.
You must understand I’m a person who routinely apologizes for things over which I have no control, and mumbles “I’m sorry” to inanimate objects, doors or walls when I inadvertently bump against them (don’t worry; it doesn’t happen often). My mama taught me good manners, and I count it a blessing that all three of my children said “pease” and “tank you” [intentional misspellings there – they were barely toddlers, after all) before they could say much else. But “sowwy” ranks right up there among their first words, too. Learning to say those two words, “I’m sorry” is important.
Writers are an odd lot. I’m thankful my family and closest friends put up with me. It’s unconditional love at its best. Sure, I sometimes get the eye rolls, the arm taps and that glazed-over look. But these people are also my greatest supporters, source of encouragement, and they spare me from apologizing all the livelong day.
Think about it. Read through the list below and see how many of these sound familiar – perhaps we can call them the hazards of a writer’s life:
*Waking up in the middle of the night to scribble notes about something a character will do, has done or will have done to him/her
*Carrying on conversations with characters and plotting stories while in the car, the office or an elevator (pretty much any small, enclosed space)
*Asking total strangers random questions all in the name of research. I was in line at a convenience store behind an EMT awhile back. Knowing I only had a certain window of time to ask my question, I plunged in. “Excuse me, may I ask you a question?” It was great because the EMT confirmed exactly what I wrote in my story.
*Bursting into laughter because a character says or does something amusing in our imagination. I’m sure there are people who believe my characters of Sam Lewis and Lexa Clarke are living, breathing human beings. They sure are to me!
*Buying things because they’re symbolic of our characters and their stories – my working area is decorated in the “Lone Star” style, an homage to all things Texas. My daughter even found an armadillo purse on Ebay. It was ugly but quite an interesting novelty item (I didn’t buy it).
*Lighting up like a Christmas tree because someone says, “So, tell me about your book.” Aren’t those among the most beautiful words in the English language?
*Crying when events in real life mirror our fiction, sad or happy. I cried like a baby when the space shuttle, Endeavor, finally lifted off on its final journey to the ISS. I have such a healthy respect for our star sailors. Hopefully, you’ll know why in a few short years. It’s down the line in my series, but it’s my personal favorite.
*Sitting at events, meetings or appointments with notepad or electronic device in hand, ready to jot notes when inspiration strikes.
*Scouring the newspaper or the internet in search of stories with intriguing twists or interesting people and/or details.
*Throwing all my spare change into a jar marked, “Conference Bound.”
*Experimenting with recipes or regional dishes indigenous to the region/setting of our book.
*Willing to make a fool of myself all in the name of a good story or finding the answer to some burning question.
*Watching the dust bunnies grow because, “…just 1,000 more words.”
Why do we do it? Because, pure and simple, it's our passion. Sure, we’re a little crazy. We have to be or we wouldn’t be gluttons for punishment. It’s a unique calling, writing. Especially as a Christian writer. What a comfort it is to know I’m forgiven by my heavenly Father without asking when I'm sometimes a bumbling mess. Kind of like never having to say I’m sorry. But I know when I need to confess something, just as I'm sure you do. But, either way, what joy fills my heart knowing my heavenly Father is always there, listening, loving and forgiving.
Until next time, keep writing, keep learning, and bask in the glorious, unconditional love of the Father. But don't ever be afraid to say you're sorry. Matthew 5:16