My wife pointed something out to be the other day. Lately, on this blog, I’ve been writing a lot about my childhood, or at least that period of my life up until I graduated from college. I went back and looked at my blog posts for the past month, and there’s some truth to that, but not as much as she thought.
Talking with a friend yesterday, I mentioned that three things had been dominating my thinking and writing lately. (Confession to wife: one of the three has not been the current remodeling of the kitchen; when it comes to that project, I do what I’m told. My wife is the strategist.)
The first thing has been this fiction manuscript I’ve been working on. It has been in the works for almost a decade. For three years it existed entirely inside my head; I literally wrote the first draft of the novel in my head. Then it came pouring out, in a flood of words that threatened not to stop. That flood includes a second completed manuscript and six additional manuscripts ranging from 5,000-word summaries to 45,000 word narratives (that’s half a novel in length). And then there’s an additional 70,000-word manuscript for a completely different story. And even a story idea that keeps trying to bob up from below the surface and I have to keep pushing back down until there’s time to deal with it (but I am making notes).
A small, new publisher expressed interest in that first manuscript. I hired an editor to edit it, and he did exactly what I needed to have done. I’ve now signed a contract. I’m working with a designer on the cover. And developing a marketing plan. The publisher came back yesterday with initial comments and suggestions. I have about four or five hours of editing work left, and then I’m going to reread the whole thing. The e-book versions will likely make their appearance in December. I’m still amazed at what’s happened.
The second thing dominating my thinking lately has been my childhood.
I’m not exactly sure why, but I have been thinking and writing a lot about my childhood. The friend I was talking with asked, “Why do you think that is?” The honest answer is I don’t know. Part of it is my age. I want my children and grandchildren to know some of what shaped me and, by extension, shaped them. I have precious little information about my father’s childhood, and nothing about my grandfather’s. My mother was far more forthcoming about her childhood. And yet I know that what shaped my parents and grandparents indirectly shaped me as well.
The third thing has been poetry. I’ve been writing and reading a lot of it lately. When I told my friend about this, he said something that startled me. “You’re caring for your heart,” he said. “I think it’s how you care for your heart.” Poetry is how I care for my heart.
And it hit me. That’s what all of this has been about lately – heart. Not so much my own heart as God’s heart.
All of these things – manuscript, childhood memories, poetry – and others – family, grandson, grandchild on the way – have felt like a showering of grace. I don’t deserve a bit of it, but I have been blessed with so much, so very much. God’s heart has overflowed on top of me. But it’s not only the good things; it’s also been the trials and the difficulties. God’s grace has always been there. Everything has been about grace.
It’s all grace. It’s just taken me 60 years to figure that out.