Monday, June 6, 2016

Aaron Moments: A Tribute to Friendship

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 Lesson

The 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

I'm close to the end of my fifth write-it-from-the-beginning draft of Half-Truths. Last week I was writing a scene in which Lillie really wants to be mad at Kate. But, according to my outline, this is Act IV when the two girls are now friends. Why would Lillie choose not to nurse her anger?

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:"

April, 2016

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"? 


Linda Phillips said...

Thank you, dear friend. You know it is all mutual! Whenever I meet a newbie writer I want to tell them how important it is to hook up with SCBWI and a critique group. And I would wish for all of them to find a buddy like you to walk this often lonely and scary journey in the writing world. And I, too, can't say enough great things about Joyce and Rebecca, who have also helped me along the way. One of the biggest blessings in this business is the fellowship and support we give one another. Thanks for sharing this post, Carol.

Carol Baldwin said...

I do know it's mutual, Linda. It's one of the reasons that our friendship is so special!

Vijaya said...

What a beautiful post. And we all need Aarons in our lives. Mine are in WA, but I have a couple of new Aarons right here in SC now :) So very thankful for them.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Vijaya! Our Aarons are so very important!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. You know I'm as excited as you to see HALF TRUTHS come into its own. It's been an honor to be part of journey!

sheri levy said...

Yes! Carol. I also know how fabulous it is to have Aarons. Without my critique group and other SCBWI friends, my story would have never developed. Their support and push kept me trying.

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks, Rebecca and Sheri. You both know the power of friendship among writers!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

You are doing just great! I have been amazed at your perseverance and enjoyed reading and watching it evolve. But truthfully I am ready to see the bigger picture. Enough of the early chapters already!

Thanks for the shout out!

Carol Baldwin said...

Your wish is my command, Joyce. Hoping to send more chapters soon!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
It's amazing to see your journey with Half-Truths and how you've met such great inspiring people on your journey! Thanks for sharing.

Congratulations to Joyce for winning the copy of the book in last week's blog post.

Ever Onward
Never Give Up

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Joan. You know how important our Aarons are in our publishing journeys!

Linda A. said...

The story of support from friends is so meaningful to all of us! Thanks for sharing your Aarons with us!

Carol Baldwin said...

I'm sure Aarons are important in your life too, LInda!

Clara Gillow Clark said...

What a special post. Thanks for sharing your Aaron moments, and thanks for your friendship, Carol!

Carol Baldwin said...

You are welcome, Clara. And thank you for your friendship too!

Young Authors Program said...

It's great to have friends who believe in you and your writing, every step of the way! That is priceless!

Carol Baldwin said...

You are absolutely right, Dorothy!

Sandra Warren said...

Beautiful tribute to your Aaron's, Carol.

I've had multiple Aaron's, first up in Ohio and most recently in NC. From Ohio native, Barbi Sargent, an internationally recognized artist who first told me, "you should be writing books," to my current SOUP critique group--SOUP does not refer soup, but has special meaning to our members--and many friends in between, I've been blessed with a bevy of individuals pushing and prodding me forward from project to project, slashing, dashing and hacking away at my manuscripts making them better and me a better writer.

And, I can't forget the MAN upstairs who has led me on this journey planting the seed in me as a small child who hated to write, the crazy idea that someday I'd write a book.

Carol, I look forward to reading your novel in print!

Debbie Allmand said...

Wonderful post honoring those who helped you on your journey! Hope to see Half-Truths published soon!

Eileen Heyes said...

Carol, this is beautiful! Yes, that support from friends who have worked through the same struggles means so much. And how many times have YOU been the Aaron for others? Too many to count, is my guess. Bravo, for all you do.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thank you Debbie, Sandra, and Eileen. Our SCBWI region is full of writing friends who encourage one another!

Rosi said...

You are a lucky lady to have found these friends along your path. Nice post.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Rosi! I am blessed!

Anonymous said...

Carol, what a wonderful post! You have some wonderful and talented Aaron's in your life! I know that you are one in mine :)

Carol Baldwin said...

I am honored, Kathleen!

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