Getting Help

By Jennifer Slattery

A while back a Facebook friend suggested a story idea. I loved it! But decided to put it off–relegate it to third place on my “must-write” list. God had other plans and sparked a passion and a swirl of plot ideas. Knowing this would be a tough story to write, one that would take intensive research to do well, I prayed for confirmation. I received it, along with help. Extensive help, and on Wednesday I spent almost four hours picking the brain of a medical professional with the same job as my heroine.

While she began to share her story and experiences, I began to see why God wanted me to write this novel. If done well, it will be a powerful tale of grace during extreme suffering, of hope amidst despair, and of good brought out of evil.

If done poorly ….

A bit later, after watching a sitcom on a topic relevant to my story, pen in hand, spiral notebook quickly filling, I got frustrated. The phrase, “Write what you know,” wouldn’t leave me alone. What do I know about medicine and hospital rooms? Why dive into a story that could very well take over a year to research? One that could easily lead to failure if God doesn’t provide continual understanding and aid?

Because I believe God’s in it, and although He promises to lead us, I don’t believe the journey’s always easy.

But He ALWAYS provides people to help us along the way. That’s the part that continues to amaze me. In June I wrote a duel-setting story about a news anchor, an El Salvador orphan, and an El Salvador English teacher/translator. Three subjects I know very little about. Two chapters in, I considered dropping it. Too much research, and what if I got it wrong? But God was faithful. He connected me with a news anchor, with people living in El Salvador who could answer questions, with a critique partner knowledgeable on foreign settings, with another critique partner knowledgeable on medicine. (My hero’s father had a medical issue.) And He carried me through.

So now I’m embarking on another, and this one’s my hardest yet, but I’ve got the memory of God’s help with my past novel to spur me on. I’m also beginning to see sprinklings of help, of the body of Christ coming beside me to offer information, to do beta-reads, all those necessary things we writers hate to ask for but need to find. Which reminds me, even in a solitary career like writing, God still wants us connected, as a body. Interdependent, working together to make Him known.

I’m starting to see Proverbs 11:25 in action. “… he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” It’s a beautiful cycle only God could work out. One author helps another, who helps another, who helps another.

Where are you in the cycle? At any given moment, you should occupy two positions—that of helper and helpee. Are you letting God surround you with helpers? Who are you leaning on? Are you letting Him use you to bless someone else? Who are you helping? Writing must be a give-and-take, a community effort. Because the body extends beyond the walls of our church.

Join God’s circle, friend!
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Jennifer Slattery is a freelance writer, publicist, and the marketing manager of the literary website, Clash of the Titles. In 2009 she won the HACWN writing contest in the book category, and placed second in the 2010 Dixie Kane writing contest in the inspirational category. She placed fourth in the 2010 Golden Pen and third in the 2010 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest.
She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, The Christian Pulse, Internet Cafe Devotions, Jewels of Encouragement, and Samie Sisters, reviews for Novel Reviews, and functions as publicity assistant for Tiffany Colter, the Writing Career Coach. She also co-hosts Living by Grace, a modern-day “meet at the well” Facebook community. Visit her online at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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