Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Price Worth Paying - Fast-Vlaar

I've invited a few Canadian authors who aren't regular bloggers here to post a "guest" blog and talk about why they write. The first is Angelina Fast-Vlaar, who is the author of two books: The Valley of Cancer and Seven Angels for Seven Days.

While on chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer ten years ago, I began to receive a distinct impression that I needed to tell how God had supported me through some difficult journeys. This, to me, meant not only my cancer experience, but also to tell of another journey ten years prior to the cancer. This journey was recorded in several journals now safely tucked away in a box somewhere. I found the box and began to read about my husband’s death in the middle of the Australian outback. I didn’t get very far. The emotions overwhelmed me and I more or less said, “Sorry, Lord, but this is too difficult.” I tucked the box back into the attic.

But the nudging did not cease. I relented and decided that, yes, my children needed an account of their father’s last six week, the details surrounding our “trip of-a-lifetime” in Australia and the marvelous way God had sent strangers (angels?) to see me through the most difficult week I’ve ever experienced. Narrowing my audience to five, made it a little easier to proceed.

But, I was married again and the emotions were almost embarrassing. How does hubby number two feel about me sitting at the keyboard writing about hubby number one? I tried to explain. He fully agreed and understood. Bless him!

I began to carve out a few hours during the day reliving my heartbreak as I typed. Often I snapped the journals shut and said, “That’s it, I can’t do it.” One day I came across the line, “No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.” I began to understand the price I needed to pay in order to make the story live. I plugged along, realizing more and more how dependent I was on the Spirit to guide me. One night, the book divided itself into four parts. Another night I received titles for each chapter. Many a night I’d wake with a phrase, a sentence or just the right word on my mind. I learned it was best to keep pen and paper handy as in the morning the sentence would be gone.

Still, I wanted to give up. I have a friend who paints pictures of Jesus on stones she finds along the lakeshore. She had given me one depicting Jesus with a hand of blessing on a kneeling woman. I propped the little stone against my screen as a reminder that, basically, this was His work.

One day I read another good line, “God cannot use what we are not willing to share.” That clinched it. I forged ahead, finished the manuscript, printed six copies, and the children each received one for Christmas. They devoured it, thanked me, said it was the greatest gift I could have given them, and – told me I needed to share it with a wider audience.

Really? I walked around with that thought for several months. Then I came across The Word Guild’s ad asking for manuscripts for their yearly contest. I did another rewrite, this time leaving out some personal details. The children joked that now I had written a family version and a public version of the book. So be it.

Seven Angels for Seven Days won the Castle Quay Best New Canadian Author Award that year in 2004, was published the next year and now is called a “best-seller.”

Messages began to arrive. E-mails, written notes, cards, telephone calls, conversations. “You are the ‘angel’ who helped me through my (bottled-up) grief.” “Your book helped me to make peace with my parents.” “You helped me to acknowledge and honour my grief.” “You helped me to gain a new appreciation for my mate.” “I was more than an hour late for an appointment because I couldn’t put your book down.” Etc. etc.

And I began to realize that the price I had paid in reliving the heartbreak of my experiences was necessary in order to be a blessing, and as I look back, I realize that it was a price worth paying!

And that makes me wonder what else there may be in my heart (or maybe in your heart) that would be difficult to share, yet would result in someone gaining wisdom or receiving a blessing.

Click here for more information about Angelina's books and speaking topics.


Jane Harris said...

I feel very touched by this column and was in fact asking God whether it was worth writing about things that are difficult to remember. Thanks so much, Jane HZ

Marci said...

Thanks for this encouragement to be "bold and courageous," Angie.
Bless you. Marcia

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