about writing and life and God

And now, maybe, for something different?

on June 25, 2013

Tuesday is my busy day. First, meeting friends for coffee and chat aka fellowship, then Study Group in the afternoon. This morning, one of our number was telling us about her visit to Ely Cathedral’s flower festival.

Arbour at Peter Beales Rose Nursery

Arbour at Peter Beales Rose Nursery

And right in the middle of her account she said something perfectly innocuous which triggered that writer’s response: “I want to use that. I want to write something about that.” All unbeknownst, she had given me the title for a crime novel.

A few years ago, I wrote a crime novel with a Christian lay preacher sleuth. It was planned as the first in a series and I had made a start on a couple of plots. Neither of which worked. Till I realised I needed to go back and lay the foundations for my protagonist’s sleuthing activities. This was the one I completed in 2006.

It sailed through the synopsis-and-sample-chapters stage and I really began to hope when the publisher requested the complete manuscript. Only to have my hopes dashed when it came home with a standard/form rejection letter.

Then my husband was diagnosed with dementia and my writing life had to take a back seat.

I have always read crime novels. The only other fiction I read is the chocolate-box Regency romance type and I have to be very low and in need of the reading equivalent of comfort eating for that! I have read mystery novels since before I could pronounce the word. (I called it “my stery”  as in “my story” and got thoroughly mocked by the bigger girls!) I give talks to WIs and Women’s Fellowships on women crime writers and the Golden Age of the Crime Novel.

And I enjoyed plotting and writing my crime novel.

It wasn’t right though. I wanted a Christian protagonist but I ducked all the issues of her faith and so her Christianity appeared a very dilute and lukewarm add-on: a little Bible reading and a pitiful amount of prayer!

I think I’ve moved on. The six years of my husband’s illness has driven me to a much deeper relationship with God. I know my preaching has changed. I’ve became much bolder, more evangelical, more openly passionate. And I know it has fed through into my writing. The current work-in-progress, the novel about the Fishermen’s Revival, is soaked in faith and the way people search for or turn their backs on God.

So I think maybe – just maybe – it’s time, when I’ve completed this one, to pull out the crime novel and see if it’s rescuable. I think it will need a complete rewrite from beginning to end. But that’s all right. I think I’d really like to do it.  And then maybe try it out again on the big wide world of publishing, but this time aim it fair and square at the Christian market. Which means getting to grips with my protagonist’s faith and doubts and what God might be doing in (and with?) that story.

I used to be a Heathrow type of writer: ideas popped up on the screen of my mind and needed to be stacked and handled by a kind of story traffic control system. The stresses of the past few years has all but wiped the screen so I am delighted to find a new idea appearing on the radar. I’m looking forward to getting out those ping-pong bats and bringing it in to land!


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