Do you know what a literary foil is? It’s an element in storytelling where two desires are at odds with each other. Sometimes I feel like my life is one massive foil. On one hand, I idealize a quaint home with fireplaces, a garden, hot beverages, and shelves of books. I am easily pleased and want to create beautiful, gold-embossed books that are a pleasure to own as well as to read.
On the other hand, I have a massive imagination, and ever since my 4th birthday when I raced through green streamers hanging from the ceiling, I have had one burning desire: to act out my own stories on film-even though I grew up without a television. If you opened my imaginary biography to any page, you would find elements of my pursuit of one or both of these things.
Along my way, there have been plenty of experiences I didn’t plan: a stint where I worked a variety of jobs both in and out of the story-telling world. Periods when I focused on building a business and starting a publishing imprint and others when I had to squeeze those efforts into morning hours before running off to a job. Auditions for plays and films: some that ended successfully and a few that joined my “why-did-I-do-that?” list. Gaining momentum and then a major setback when illnesses wiped out years of building up my health.
Having my heart shattered by religion and mended by God. My relationship with God has always been driven by a true desire to please him, but it took some time to sort out the differences between a Christian life motivated by guilt or transformed by grace. At one point I made a conscious choice to drop the concept of God from my novels altogether, yet He somehow always wove Himself back in and with every showing, I understood His true nature better. God is also a storyteller: when I began having panic attacks in church, he began to speak to me through my novels.
My two desires of publishing and film are still present in my life, and I live in the hope that one day they won’t be at odds with each other. Currently, God has led me to Ohio for an apprenticeship program where I can hone my skills both for screen and books. The extra expenses and lessened hours available for working have made living frugally and coming up with creative solutions more important than ever. And let’s face it: none of our lives are getting any cheaper.
But one of the constant threads in the various experiences and challenges in my life is my love for history, and my need to come up with creative solutions to live on an income where the majority of my paycheck is poured into building my business and publishing my stories. In turn, the real-life experiences help me write more realistically for characters that live without our modern conveniences.
Necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention. But sometimes necessity also invites us to look back to our mothers and grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers. Because their lives also gave them plenty of experiences they didn’t plan.
So, you are welcome, my friend, to walk along beside me. Here is a peek into my life.