Josi Kilpack reviewed my manuscript for me recently. When I received back the edits, I had to sit on them for a while and figure out how to make the suggested changes. She wanted more depth.
“You love your characters too much,” she said. “You’re afraid to let them get hurt.”
I can’t argue with her. I *do* love my characters. They are funny, and charming. I would go to movies with them and invite them on vacations if they were real.
“You have to let them get hurt!” she continues later in the manuscript. “Burn them, Julie! Burn them!”
Let me clarify a few things about this particular manuscript: Anyone who knows me knows I like writing good conflict, but I wrote this book to be a candy bar book–empty calories that are fun to consume but have no real value. It’s a romantic comedy. In the need to write a whimsical book after several books that were emotionally draining, I ended up with this one–a light breezy romance in the same vein as Notting Hill with Hugh Grant. What kind of silly woman wants to burn a miraculous man find who looks like this:
But after much contemplation, I have dug a little deeper and found that there are some other ways I could strengthen the conflict without losing the whimsy of romantic comedy.
And as I’ve continued, I’ve realized that the characters have to be burned at some point. How will I ever know what they are capable of if I never give them the chance to damage themselves?
My daughter’s moving in less than a month. 28 days and I will no longer be there to keep her from getting hurt. And yet, how could she ever know how strong she is if she doesn’t ever get to flex her muscles? How will she know what she’s capable of if she never takes chances, fails, succeeds, lives?
I wonder if God shakes his head at us silly mortals as we shake our fists at him. As we curse him for our trials, does he say, “It’s for your own good! I promise you’ll thank me later! If you don’t hurt, how will you ever know what you’re capable of?” He has to let us get hurt for our own good, our own learning, our own expansion into a greater universe.
I feel suddenly more grateful for my challenges.
Just as I have to let Rae go, for her own good so she can know that she is strong–not because I told her she was strong, but because she stood on her own two feet and proved it.
Mr. Wright and I just passed our 17th wedding anniversary. It’s been 21 years since our first date. It’s hard to believe we’re that old. The man is a total punk. He teases, tickles, does butterfly kisses on the kids’ cheeks so they giggle in church when we’re supposed to be quiet. He is altogether infuriating. He is amazing.
It’s no secret the kids would choose him over me if given the choice. I don’t blame them. I’d choose him too. I think back to the person I was when he met me. I was wretchedly ugly–too skinny, too pale, no sense of how to present myself, and I had no confidence. In the time we dated he changed all that. Not that he changed how I looked, but how I saw myself. And by seeing myself through his eyes, I found I was someone worthwhile. And then he left for his mission for our church.
He told my grandmother before she died that he was going to treat me so good that while he was gone on his mission, no one else would be able to compare. And he fairly well did it. There were a few guys who ranked pretty high, but in the end, it all came back to Mr. Wright. It’s amazing what a girl can learn in two years.
- Some guys are physically deformed in a way that is not readily apparent. Though they appear to have only two hands–they really have four or more.
- Dating during poverty ridden college years could be viewed the same as going to a soup kitchen–the company might not be great but you got fed, so who can complain?
- One small argument with your boyfriend on a mission in a foreign country through mail takes months and is exhausting.
- Learning how to stand on your own is imperative if you ever want to stand with someone else by your side.
- Never give your phone number to people you don’t want calling you.
- A pretty face gets boring if nothing intelligent ever comes out of it.
- You can recover from tripping over love. Falling in love is forever.
- If someone asks you to marry them and the word, “NO!” screams inside your head, do not allow the word, “Yes.” to fall out of your mouth.
- Looks Nice and Nice Looking do not exactly mean the same thing. (see number one about the hands)
- The marriage decision is the one and only time where you have the right to make a totally selfish choice.
I’m glad I made a selfish choice in getting married to Mr. Wright. Even when he’s annoying, I’m grateful he’s annoying me rather than some other less deserving female. He puts up with a lot from me. And I’m glad to say that after 17 years, he’s still likes me for reasons I still don’t understand. So I guess we’ll keep each other.