I’ve packed my writing room with inspiration, like this photo on my desk.
It’s my grandparents’ camp that I went to every summer in Maine. It’s not so much a picture or a memory of a place as it is a teleporter. I see it and I’m there, breathing the scent of pine needles and hearing the call of loons on the pond. I’m in the woods with nothing on the agenda other than to wander. The cares I drove down the gravel road to this place are gone. I am here, and I am free.
This picture is inspiration in a snapshot, and my writing room has plenty of others, mostly of my boys. There’s also quotes and an abundance of bright yellow accents. Every item in here has a reason and a story. It’s a beautiful place.
But inspiration can come from dark places, too – so dark that when we were in them, we questioned whether we’d find the way out.
The inspiration for my book came from such a place. As I’ve shared on this blog before, I became a Christian when I started college, and as liberating a decision as that was, the years following were intensely lonely. I wasn’t raised a Christian, and I hadn’t ever run with a Christian crowd. I had no one to fall back on. And most of the Christian girls I met in college seemed too opposite from me to become my friends. I’ve blogged about this before, too – feeling like that girl and not knowing where I belonged.
So I went to the bookstore, which makes perfect sense if you grew up reading as much as I did. Stories were how I interpreted my world, and now that I believed in God, the genre of “inspirational fiction” was open to me (or more like I was open to it). I remember the anticipation of that first trip, hoping for a story to make sense of how to be this “new” me in my same old world. But what I saw were a lot of book covers with portraits of women in bonnets and high-necked, lacy collars. I read titles, like Faith and a Cowboy and Freely Runs the Grace Through Still Merciful Waters.
And I walked away – not from God, but from anything that looked or hinted or smelled like that. And I kept away by keeping to myself, wondering whether being a Christian woman meant losing myself entirely.
The answer is, yes. Following Jesus requires me to lose myself entirely … but not to be reborn as a pioneer woman who speaks in superlatives while waiting for a man in chaps to rescue her (though I’ve never minded the chaps imagery).
Enter my book. It’s a story about how a woman – not a perfect one in a bun or a baaaaaaaad one in a red dress – finds God. And not as a given, but as a tension because we doubt, right? This world encourages it, feeds off of our doubts about our looks, choices, affiliations, relationships, and beliefs. So when we’re presented with a free rescue from this whirlpool of striving and never attaining, well … We doubt that, too.
And so does Lu, my main character. Her story opens with her leaving a life that’s disappointed to head back to a life she doesn’t want in her hometown with her family. I’ve thrown in a couple of grandmas, a good friend, and even a boy or two. There’s some snappy dialogue, a few funnies, and even some page-turning plot twists that will keep you up past your bedtime.
But the book is about her – the story of one woman’s search.
Which is why I called it Lu.
*As soon as you make a decision, in come the haters.
“Mom, I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think your book is going to be a bestseller,” Jesse told me after seeing the cover for the first time.
“Why’s that, buddy?”
“I mean, no one is going to buy a book called Lu.”
“Would it help if I re-titled it Lu: The dragon?”
“That would take care of two-thirds of the problem.”