Congratulations to Joyce Hostetter who won the autographed copy of "The Great Call of China" on last week's post. Trust me, her winning was independent of this post!
A Bible LessonThe ancient Israelites had a problem. In a battle with their enemies the Amalekites, Moses and Aaron noticed that whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed. But his hands got heavy and when he let them down, Amalek prevailed.
Exodus 17:12 says, "But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron (his brother) and Hur (his companion) held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun."
Apparently this intervention worked because the next verse records how the Israelites were victorious. This is a superb example of two friends coming alongside a great leader and giving him the help he needed.
Since this blog deals more with writing than Biblical history, you might be wondering where I'm going with this post.
Half-Truths and Aaron Moments
Light bulb moment. By remembering a time when Kate believed in her when other people didn't.
In my mind, I dubbed this previous incident in the story an "Aaron moment." A time when Lillie was ready to give up and give in. But Kate's encouragement kept her going--despite her fears and doubts.
Meet my "Aaron's"
Like Moses and Lillie, I've had my moments when I was ready to quit. Thankfully, I've had three friends who have believed in me and helped me fight my panic and doubts. You've met these friends in blog posts, but here's a little more backstory about how each one has helped me with my story.
In chronological order, here are my three "Aarons:"
Seventeen years ago, Fran Davis, the Regional Advisor for SCBW (there was no "I" back then) called me, and then called Linda Phillips. She had decided the two of us should co-chair the 1999 regional conference in Charlotte. We each agreed although there was one problem--we had never met. After much email correspondence, phone calls, and meetings, Linda and I pulled it off.
In the process, we became critique partners, praying friends, and walking buddies. We continue to lift each other up when the other person is overwhelmed by doubts and fears. We give each other marketing advice, pep talks, and a different perspective on ourselves and our writing. Most of all, we're always there for each other as the voice of encouragement when the other person wants to abandon her work.
In 2007, I met Joyce Hostetter at the Mid-South Reading and Writing Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. I went to her workshop on writing historical fiction and had her autograph a copy of BLUE. Thus started a friendship which led to us co-teaching writing workshops at NCCAT and publishing our online newsletter, Talking Story.
In 2008 Joyce challenged me to stop talking about writing a novel and to plunge into NaNoWriMo. She encouraged me to spend a week at a Highlights Foundation Workshop for which I'll always be grateful. She's read and critiqued numerous synopsis and first pages. She's now (finally!) reading this draft and giving feedback on everything from sentence order to killing my darling similes. When I bewail how long it's taken to write my first novel she offers understanding but no excuses.
I attended the 2011 SCBWI-Carolinas conference with a revised first draft and great confidence that I was on my way to publication. Mary Kate Castellani, my critiquer, changed all that. She rocked my world and changed my novel by calmly suggesting that my book would reach a wider audience if I wrote it from both Kate's and Lillie's POV.
My mind whirled as I walked through the revolving doors at the conference hotel. I had just finished writing the entire book from Kate's POV. How could I possibly write a story from a black girl's POV? How could I start all over again? (little did I know...)
The first person I saw on the other side of the door was Rebecca Petruck.
She not only told me I could and should write Half-Truths from both POV's, she has helped me with the humongous task of plotting a book from two points of view. I've appreciated Rebecca's ability to see what Half-Truths was trying to be and to bring me back from the many bunny trails which my imagination led me on.
These friends have believed in me as a writer and in Half-Truths as a story. They have been my "Aarons" figuratively holding up my arms when my battles were rough. Thank you, Linda, Joyce, Rebecca, Kate, and Lillie. You each have showed me how powerful friendship can be.
How about you? Who are your "Aarons"?