I have been working on this book project for a couple of months now. It has taken more of my discipline and heart than any other writing I've done. I actually finished the outline. Handwritten. I wrote (by hand) character bios and detailed histories like I never have before. Somehow, doing all that with a pen and paper helped me process more thoroughly, which has made the actual writing of the story so much easier.
Imagine that. All those writing blogs I've read about the process have been right. Already, this story is demanding so much of my heart. I spent a couple of hours working on it today and felt so emotionally drained. My heart feels like it's been sent through the wringer.
Why is it so monumental? This is a project I felt God call me to back in December, the first project God has clearly put in my hands. In February, God asked me to put the brakes on everything else I was doing to focus on it alone. I could almost hear the classic record-stopping scratch sound.
It's a story about the refugee crisis. I don't know much about the refugee experience, and even less about the intricacies of the politics and wars behind the problem, but I'm learning. In December, Zack and I sat on our couch talking late into the night with our friend, Bethany, who's living in France to provide hospitality to the refugees there.
She was first in Greece for many months, living life with the refugees, and she quickly fell in love with a family there. When they were finally able to leave the grossly inadequate camps in Greece, they were scattered across Europe, so Bethany joined some of them in Brest, France. Since being in France, she has discovered many foreigners in the area who are having a hard time assimilating to life in that culture. Bethany works to make their experience easier, and provides community and fellowship in a place that isn't extremely welcoming to foreigners.
As we talked on our couch during her visit to Oregon, we realized that any of us could be refugees. This could happen anywhere in the world. The idea came to write an American refugee story. My bleeding heart opened wide as I imagined what the refugees must be going through on a daily basis, and what happens to the people left behind in those war-torn countries?
Then we asked ourselves, what would it look like if America was unsafe, if our homes and businesses were destroyed, along with our dreams and futures? Can Americans wrap their minds around this tragedy that is a reality for so many in the world today? We're so privileged and so secure in this country, but it's important to identify with the despair, loss, and poverty of the vast majority of the world.
That's what I hope to help us do through my story. I hope to open the eyes of America to the truth of the refugee experience. My story depicts a very typical, upper middle class American family, and follows their journey as their lives are destroyed and they're forced to flee the country. I've come some distance from that illuminating December night with Bethany, and I have learned of atrocities I couldn't have imagined before.
This is the story of my heart. This is God's dream for my writing career right now. I plan to self-publish it on Amazon, and I hope it blows up. You, my friends, can help spread the word. You can share my blog posts on your social media platforms and get more people to anticipate this book.
This project is so much bigger than me, and I would feel so inadequate and unqualified if I wasn't sure it was put on my heart by God. I have been scared to share this project with you all, but I see now that it's so important for you to be a part of the process. I hope you'll stick with me on this journey.
I would love to hear your insights on this topic, or read articles you've found interesting.