Ian MacAllister Laird of Clan MacAllister
It’s very early here at Sea Glass Cottage. I’ve been out on one of our decks watching the water. I’ve called my elderly mother, a thing I do every morning just to tell her I love her. She will be moving down here to the beach too in just a couple of weeks. There’s a lovely Senior Village apartment with lots of Uno playing opportunities with her name on it:).
Today will be a low key stay-at-home day for me because I have a little ailment that keeps me from getting out and about this morning. With that said, I’ve had more than the usual hour I allot myself each morning to read the Bible and journal. So I got to thinking about how I began my love affair with words. I’d like to share some of that journey with you.
As a child I had a hard time learning to read. A really hard time. After repeating the second grade, the concept of phonics was still an auditory form of Egyptian Hieroglyphics as far I was concerned. But my breakthrough came in the third grade when I spent two weeks in the hospital. Now in those days hospitals were often quiet and grim places- no TV’s, no radios. That left reading.
Thankfully many of my family and friends brought me comic books. All of the sudden there was a picture that went with all those funny scribbles I’d never been able to translate into anything meaningful. Now I had a visual guide to the words! Almost like a miracle I learned to read during those momentous two weeks. And I’ve never looked back. In fact I became one of those really awkward children who read the dictionary or a handy encyclopedia when I ran out of library books.
Soon the library books, dictionaries, & encyclopedias weren’t enough and I began writing, just to fill the void. Let me tell you, I’m so glad some of my earliest efforts have been lost to the trash heap of time. Especially some really angsty poetry I wrote as a heartbroken teen and one particular Christmas play I wrote for church. It included this memorable line from Mary, “Joseph if we don’t find an inn soon, the Son of God will be born on the back of this donkey!” *Sigh*
Then there was the truly awful, never to see the light of day, romance novel I worked on with my college roommate. I’m really sorry you got stuck with all the typing on that one Porkchop [that was her nickname} And no, I never summoned up the courage to ask exactly why she was named Porkchop. Rumor around the dorm said it had to do with a particularly nasty pork-chop served to her in the college cafeteria. One that sent her to the infirmary.
I don’t want to forget the musical my husband and I began one summer’s afternoon by a South Georgia pond. We were having a romantic picnic. This work was to be based on a modern day retelling of the ‘Keystone Cops’ silent films. But alas we were young and in the first flush of our love for each other. We spent more time gazing soulfully into each other’s eyes than blocking out a play. 37 years later I still love to gaze into that man’s eyes :).
In the following years I began writing in earnest and learned more about myself and about the power of words. I wrote a spiritual advice column for a now defunct Christian magazine, ‘Making it Home’. I still have those clippings and I cringe when I read them. I was so sure I knew everything about being a Godly woman in those days. Now I’m older and wiser. Now I try to keep my mouth closed and pray for others instead of offering easy platitudes.
I was blessed to write for other magazines and newspapers. And I soon learned not everybody remembers the past the way I do. Case in point, my mom’s reaction upon reading an account I wrote of an especially hard Christmas we had when I was a kid. Her response was, “It wasn’t really like that.”
I was sorry to see her embarrassed. Even though she was represented in a positive fashion in the story. In defense, my memories are very different from her own. And I did win a journalism contest for that bittersweet retelling of a not so merry Christmas.
I’ve written many screenplays. Lots of them languish even now in a random producer’s slush pile. But some of them became shorts, pilots, award winning cable shows [Angel in the Aisles], and one even became a movie – “For a Time Like This’.
Writing screenplays taught me of my truest love in writing, dialogue. My epiphany came during the table read for one of the earliest pilots produced from one of my screenplays. It was called, ‘The Side Roads’.
It was so very exciting just to have a screenplay picked up to be produced. I got a little lightheaded and even saw dancing stars in my peripheral vision the same way I did the first time an editor called to speak with me about buying one of my magazine articles LOL. And I was overwhelmed to just be invited to sit at the conference table and listen to the professional actors bring the characters to life. I got so involved with their art that I failed to realize several of them were crying during a particularly poignant scene. The director stopped the table read so they could take a breath, get a sip of water, and get back in character.
That’s when I knew, knew, knew I loved writing dialogue. Dialogue, with God’s help, can impact folks in a powerful and uniquely positive way. It can reveal to them truths, again with God’s help, that they’d never considered before. It can help them understand they’re not alone in their struggles.
I’ve often been inspired to change my life by reading another author’s dialogue, especially dialogue written by one of my favorite Inspirational Fiction authors, Gilbert Morris. His novels have been a tool God has used in my own Christian pilgrimage many times. I pray every day that the Lord would use my poor efforts in the same way to help others.
So…sitting on the deck this morning watching the glassy bay, my mind was firmly planted in Medieval Scotland endlessly revising a bit of dialogue in ‘Faith’s Keys’, The ChristKeepers novel to be released in July. It’s a fault of mine to over think scenes, even after the manuscript is out of my hands. A beautiful blue heron flew right past my rocking chair earlier, but I was deep in a wintery swirl of snow and calamity amid clashing knights and spunky fair maidens. So I almost missed the heron’s graceful flight.
Speaking of The ChristKeepers, I’m posting an image I found the other day when I was hunting for book trailer material. It captures Ian MacAllister, the hero of ‘Faith’s Key’s’ perfectly. He’s so strong, yet so very broken. A Scottish lord with a horrid past and he’s a new Christian…makes for great chemistry with the equally strong heroine of this novel!
I pray your Father’s Day is wonderful, especially if you’re blessed to have a father still in your life here on Earth. Mine has been gone for many years now, but I always smile when I think of him. Happy Father’s Day Daddy, I sure hope there’s plenty of good fishing up there in Heaven for you today!
Love Never Fails, Grace