by Andrea Renee Cox
This month is insanely busy for me, but I am remembering to take time to enjoy life and rest between my various projects. This weekend, I saw Murder on the Orient Express, which was a phenomenal story, one which I recommend studying to learn how to write complex plots that keep viewers guessing until the very end. I also saw a re-showing of Casablanca—a celebration of its 75th anniversary—an old classic I didn’t appreciate the first time I watched it. Cut me some slack, though. I was a teenager who understood nothing of politics back then. Even though I am still not a fan of politics, I understand more about them now, and I’ve learned a great deal about WWII since the last time I viewed that classic movie.
As for rest, I’m soaking in snippets of the Word of God. I’m finding it helpful to meditate on a single verse or small section of verses these days, since I am so busy. This still keeps my mind and heart focused on God and His Word, even as chaos is pinballing around me. I love writing these verses on the white board in my room as well as on 3-by-5-inch notecards to stick in my purse, keep at my desk, and prop up on my bookcase (which I visit often, as you can imagine, my being an avid reader). At other times, I like to flip open to a favorite section in the Bible and read a full chapter. While doing this, I pay extra-special attention to any passages that I had previously highlighted, underlined, or circled—and I often end up finding hope, encouragement, and a whisper of love from the God I serve. Those moments are the most precious of my day.
These days, I need all the encouragement I can get, because I’m nearing the middle of NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write at least 50,000 words toward a new book during the month of November. Believe it or not, I’m past 40k already. Still going strong too. I’m at that point now where I’m doubting the quality of my work and dreading the editing. Normally when I reach this point, I hit a slump in my writing. I don’t know if it’s a dip in my confidence or a gap in my timeline (or lack of a timeline altogether). This year I have most of a timeline, and my confidence is stronger than in NaNos past. Still, I find myself struggling to find words right when I sit down.
Since I’m talking about NaNoWriMo and the story I’m working on, how would you like to see a section of my very rough first draft? Sharing something so raw and unedited makes me nervous, but I appreciate you guys so much that I want to share this tidbit with you. Here goes…
*The following portion of Child of My Heart (working title) is copyrighted by Andrea Renee Cox, 2017. All rights are reserved by the author.
A Mother's Heartache
The gasp that ripped up Louisa’s throat was chased by a voice-altering sob. Swiftly, her hand covered her gaping mouth. It wouldn’t do to wake up her little boy on the bed in the room behind her.
“Are you sure?” Her husband, Mark, wrapped his arms protectively around her as if by doing so, he could shield her from the doctor’s well-aimed bullets. “There could have been a mistake, right? Even doctors like you make mistakes, don’t they?” His normally placid voice took on a husky—no, more of a gravelly intonation. The news was killing him as much as her.
That made her heart ache all the more.
The doctor lowered his head. Did he know how much his words pierced? Was he regretting breaking this news and shattering their lives? When he looked back up and met first her gaze, then Mark’s, the sheen glazing his eyes took Louisa by surprise even as it further decimated her hope. “I always check these types of things three times and have someone check my work. I’m sorry, but there isn’t a mistake.”
The wails wouldn’t be so easily contained now, so Louisa buried her face against Mark’s long-sleeve shirt as he squeezed her closer. Something throbbed erratically beneath her forehead and nose, but she couldn’t tell if it was her own pulse thrumming in that vein that, when she was upset, always flicked angrily against the few wrinkles her brow had gained over the years or if it was her husband’s heart pounding furiously in an attempt to keep up with the maelstrom of emotions that surely swirled within him. The moisture-wicking material of his shirt pinched her pinky as she tightened her fist, clutching the only thing in her reach. She couldn’t hear the doctor, if he was even still talking, but it didn’t matter. Her world was utterly and completely destroyed. There was no going back to normal, whatever that was. Somehow, she couldn’t remember.
A couple of small splashes hit her hair. She swallowed back her next sob and peeked up. The blue of Mark’s eyes took on a molten-sapphire quality as they usually did when he was sad or worked up about something, but the pain peering out from them now was worse than when he lost a couple of his men in that wildfire back in ’08. The firefighters he worked with were his brothers, but Micah was his son. Cavernous difference there. He was looking over her head, which meant he was still eyeing the doctor, if he stayed standing there, which she didn’t know.
She reached up and felt Mark’s smooth cheek, then gently aimed his face down toward hers. He reluctantly met her gaze, and his face crumpled, etching more creases into his face and shoving another wave of tears down them. Louisa rose up on her tiptoes and rested her forehead against his as he slumped and met her partway. They cried together for what seemed to be a long time. Eventually, she snaked her arms around his neck and leaned her face against his ear, allowing him to hide his face in her just-past-the-shoulders-length hair. Another stretch of time and they finally pulled apart, only far enough for her to snuggle up against his side. Not that he was letting her go; one of his strong arms remained anchored around her, but it was unclear if it was to support her or to find a dose of starch to hold himself up.
When they faced where the doctor had been standing, Louisa was shocked to find him still in the same spot. Even greater was the jolt that tears streamed down his face too. Had he never seen raw grief? Surely he had in his line of work. Why would he cry over Micah, a boy he barely knew, had just met a few hours ago? Or was it the soul-deep grief of the parents that rocked him?
“If you need me to go through the details again at a later time, have one of the nurses page me. I’ll be gl… I don’t mind explaining things again. Anytime you’re ready.” The doctor, whose name Louisa had lost somewhere between the wretched word for her son’s sickness and the buckets of moisture flowing from her eyes, squeezed Mark’s shoulder. “Is there anything you need right now?”
Mark opened his mouth, but Louisa spoke first, mostly because she was afraid of what her husband might say to this man who was only doing his job. “Time.” It was barely above a soft whisper. She didn’t clear her throat to make her voice regain normalcy. “If you find any more, please send it straight to our Micah.”
What are your favorite Bible verses when you’re feeling discouraged?
Do you like emotional books?
Which is your favorite and why?
What emotions did you feel when reading the snippet of my story?
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Want to join in on a reading marathon? On Wednesday of this week, we'll start our discussion of Katherine Reay's Lizzy and Jane, but we'll be getting to her other books soon. Be sure to check out this article for more information and to find out where the reading marathon will take place.
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What a fabulous job, Andrea! Love your excerpt, I could totally feel the characters' pain, shock, disbelief, and turmoil, as well as (perhaps) an underlying spot of hope. I so wanted to keep reading. Keep up the great work! :)
Caitlyn, thank you for your encouraging words. Hearing that you loved the peek into my novel makes me want to keep working really hard on it. God bless you!
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