In my early days as a writer, I struggled to find my niche. A longtime fan of historical romance, I was determined to write my own book about castles and bluebloods, certain they’d rock the literary world.
Unfortunately an enthusiastic reader does not an author make, especially when I didn’t do much research beforehand.
Instead, I foolishly ignored constructive suggestions and submitted manuscripts to agents who probably didn’t read past the first paragraph.
The result was a flurry of rejections. After awhile the sight of mail trucks made me nauseous.
I envied my grandmother’s gift for storytelling, which it seemed I didn’t inherit.
Grandma was a living journal of family lore. Raised on an Indiana farm, she was surrounded by kin who swapped historical tales and humorous yarns while young ears absorbed their words like a sponge. Every fact, memory, and triviality was tucked away for safe keeping.
When I was little, Grandma began sharing her memories with me. She quickly realized that I too was an enchanted disciple hanging on every syllable, just as she had been.
Her words took me back to when our ancestors claimed a raw, wild frontier with little more than faith and primitive tools.
“It's important to know who you came from, so you know what you’re made of” Grandma declared.
Like a loom, she wove vibrant tapestries of long ago; with ladies in post-Victorian dresses and enormous feathered hats, mustached men with gold pocket watches, girls in large hair bows, and pinafores, boys in knickers with bullfrogs in their pockets. Barn dances, pet pigs, and homemade toys magically sprang to life.
When my daughter was born, I asked Grandma to record her memories so her words would always be with us.
However once I received the tape, I put it away. It wasn't needed yet.
Two years later the Lord took Grandma home after a long illness. The grief was overwhelming. At first I resisted playing the tape, afraid of opening an emotional floodgate that might never close.
Months later when life resumed a more normal rhythm, I heard the Lord whisper "listen now."
It was time.
As Grandma’s voice washed over me, sadness turned to tears of joy. She had returned to me; in her stories.
I suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to write about what I loved and knew a great deal about; my colorful, courageous family. The resulting manuscript was miraculously published.
So many blessings were realized from one little tape. The Lord eased my sorrow, pumped new life into a writer’s shattered dream, which in turn gave others an opportunity to delight in the beauty of Grandma’s world.
Michelle Close Mills ©
I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.
Thank you Father for bringing me through the depths of mourning, for reviving broken dreams and for blessings I could never repay. Amen.