Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Someone to Hold

Someone to Hold

Featured Song: “America” by Neil Diamond

First of all, I did not choose this title. I don’t even remember what my working title was, but I remember they nixed it and came up with this and I didn’t even know what they were going to call it until it had gone to press. After this had happened a few other times (and some of the titles they picked I hated) I appropriately told them I needed to at least be consulted in title changes. They’ve been great about that since, but they still change titles. Just a little trivia: authors have little to no control over titles.

My deadline to turn in this book was the end of September, 2001. I worked on it in bits and pieces through the summer, but it was slow and lacking momentum. The setup for this story was something I had considered doing for years, and it was at this time it finally felt right. Years earlier I had been active in some writer’s groups (before I was published) and I submitted a short, short story (not my forte) to a local contest and it had won. The story was called “The Game” and it was in essence a shorter version of Christy driving home in a blizzard, picking up a stranger, and then finding out he was the same wealthy and powerful man she’d been criticizing earlier over his strange philanthropy methods. This part of the book and some other key scenes (maybe 1/4 of the book, total) were written before our family went out of town for Labor Day weekend. When we got back and I had caught up the laundry from a family camping for five days, I set to work on finishing the book. I had written a little further when my sister called one morning to tell me that the World Trade Center had just been attacked by terrorists. Instead of writing, I spent the day (and much of the following days) in front of the TV, horrified and crying. While I wasn’t getting any work done and the deadline was looming closer, I started to imagine my characters facing this event. I thought it might just be my own way of dealing with it. But the scenes became so vivid that I decided to write them, thinking I could just throw them out later. They were so good that I was stunned. I was further stunned to realize how well they fit into the story I’d already written before September 11th. I had already established that Cameron went to New York City frequently on business, and that his sister lived there. It was as if the holes in the story I’d started writing were filled perfectly with this scenario of current events. The story was also about healing from pain and grief. Christy’s ugly divorce and Cameron’s own losses were a perfect setup to have their faith tested in facing this turn of events when it hits them too close to home. Once I accepted that the concepts were integrated, the story took off. I absolutely knew that it (like every story I write) had been inspired. But this time I had more evidence. I know that Heavenly Father had known this horrible thing would happen, and that he had given me the means to write a story that might help people cope with this life-altering event.

I turned in the book September 27th, which is further proof of my inspiration. It was a miracle! The book came out in January, and I only got one mean letter, telling me I shouldn’t have written about such a horrible thing. I don’t think she was ready to deal with it yet. But it’s been my hope that this story would help readers make sense of something that is so hard to make sense of. My own feelings as I wrote it centered in my gratitude to have the gospel and the understanding it gives us. I wondered how I would talk to my children about such an event without the gospel perspective. Oh, and that song by Neil Diamond just says it all, if not in the lyrics, in the spirit of the way he sings them.

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