*Oil painting by Leah Kristin Dahlgren, “Silver Pitcher.”
I’ve been thinking of the writing process lately and what a mysterious things putting words on paper is. Where do these ideas come from anyway? How is it possible to create a character you know so well they seem to live and breathe? Why do I feel so smitten by my heroes ~ and they don’t even exist? Why do I find myself wanting to write rather than eat and sleep? Why do I often have to force myself to STOP writing and attend to other things?
When I was in Scotland May 2014 I wanted to take a break from writing. To be honest, I was exited to be there but worn out and weary. It had been a long winter with some unexpected twists and turns that I wasn’t weathering very well. I’d finished Ballantyne Book 3 and needed to let it rest so I could look at it, flaws and all, with fresh eyes once I returned home in June. My brother, who lives in Spain, met me in Glasgow. After arriving in a pouring rain he prayed for sun and the sun came out and stayed out the entire time. We hiked in the Hebrides and took trains and taxis and ferries all over, ate our hearts out (he’d brought a list of Scots foods he wanted to try :), and ended up in Edinburgh for more adventures. I began to feel full, inspired, enriched, overjoyed, overflowing. Green pastures and still waters, indeed.
I had brought a blank notebook and supply of pens thinking I wouldn’t use them. But somehow between all the hiking and walking and sightseeing and eating, I began scribbling a new story. I filled up one notebook and by the time I reached Spain I needed another. My pens had all run dry. By the time I left Spain I’d filled up another notebook. This was a story I’d been wanting to write for years and is set in my favorite century, the 18th. It didn’t matter where I was, or what I was doing, or if I was in a taxi or bus or whatever, I JUST HAD TO WRITE. It was wonderful to feel that overwhelming passion for words again. I’d nearly forgotten the JOY of it. It was God’s gift to me in a rocky place.
When I came home I transcribed all that scribbling I’d done on vacation to a Word file. Since I never count words (too much like counting calories!) I was amazed when the numbers showed 40,000. My books are normally 100,000 and it takes me a year or more to write just one. The Frontiersman’s Daughter happened over a ten year period. This time I’d written almost half a book in a 2 week time frame on that month long trip. This was, of course, a first draft, and needed work. But it’s truly a story of my heart and that’s what matters. And it shows that a very slow writer like myself, when inspired, can pour out a story of substance in a short time, all because I, in a desert place, met the River of Living Waters who never fails.
So there you have the story behind the story of The Mistress of Tall Acre.