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Where Does Your Story Begin?

by Linda Brooks Davis

Ever wonder how far back the roots of your story extend?

With the recent release of my debut novel, “The Calling of Ella McFarland,” I find myself wondering when the story began.
Calling of Ella McFarland
Was it in 2014 when I opened Scrivener and typed CHAPTER 1? Or long before?

Perhaps it was 2005 when my first grandchild arrived in triplicate form. Or 2007 when I held the sixth grandchild and vowed to spend my remaining years leaving them a legacy of writing for Jesus.

Could it have begun in 1967 when Mama, my maternal grandmother, died, and I wondered how her legacy might be preserved?

Questioning how the ingredients came together to produce a novel bearing Mama’s name-Ella-opened my memory bank to the late 1940s when I sat on her lap for tales about Indian Territory prior to Oklahoma’s 1907 statehood. Why did it take seven decades to create Ella McFarland’s story? Perhaps the answer lies within a circle where desire and delight meet.
Linda Brooks Davis Cake
I learned as a 4-H farm girl that baking a cake I have no desire for is far from delightful. And adding uncalled-for ingredients-or in the wrong order- can result in a mess.

Decades beyond the farm, I’ve learned the same principle applies to writing. In teen and young adult years a desire emerged to put my thoughts and emotions on paper. In college I sent home descriptions of my activities, and visualized Mother’s and Daddy’s vicarious enjoyment. Such images reached into a secret place in my heart where delight in storytelling resided.

Somewhere in the midst of adult life with its mountaintops, valleys, green pastures, and bare wasteland I lost sight of both the delight and the desire. Instead I feasted on love of family, career and childrearing responsibilities, marital challenges, relocations, school changes, church membership, and … duty.

My writing pen remained in a drawer.

Grandparenthood unlocked the longing. Desire resurfaced.

Sharing my words bore different results. It took me into unfamiliar, even threatening, territories where other writers, critics, editors, and judges read my words. Hardly delightful. Desire battled for life.

By God’s providence I began a year in the Psalms where I hoped to learn from the Master Writer. It happened in the fourth verse of Psalm Thirty-Seven: Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (NIV)

Like a kaleidoscope shifting 180 degrees, I realized I had been delighting in my own words and had been desiring that others, even God, delight in them. But my paradigm was skewed, the recipe turned upside down.

Many are worthy to judge my words, but the Lord alone is worthy to judge my desire. If I delight in Him first and always, my desires will come from Him.

Desire and delight. A full circle. A recipe turned right side up. And, hopefully, a cake that won’t slide off the stand.

Keep my delight centered on You, O Lord, and plant what You desire in my heart. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Linda Brooks Davis JanLinda Brooks Davis is a Jerry B. Jenkins Operation First Novel recipient. Her novel, The Calling of Ella McFarland released in December from Mountainview Books. Linda and her husband, long-time members of San Antonio’s Oak Hills Church, delight in their veterinarian son and daughter and dote on six grandchildren. You can find Linda on her website at http://lindabrooksdavis.com/.

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4 Responses to Where Does Your Story Begin?

  1. You explained so well why some writers [like you and me] wait so long to “get started.” Yet we had started the process long before we knew it: collecting stories, memories, experience, ideas, and words. Cannot wait to get my hands on an autographed copy of The Calling of Ella McFarland!

  2. Thank you for sharing your path to publication. Your perspective on what delighting in our own words can lead to helped me reflect on why I, like you, have returned to a writing habit that fulills me. I have struggled lately to stick with it and questioned my motives more than my abilities. Thank you for this reminder to seek Him first, even in this. Congrats on the novel!

  3. I write Psalms 37:4 in every book I sign and then I put a comma and write 7. Wait patiently for the Lord to act…

    What an inspiring post!