We sat around the table at the house where my critique group met. Each of us took our turn, reading our precious words and waiting for responses from the other writers.
I knew my group liked my main character – Reverend G, that feisty little minister who struggles to find her purpose within the shadows of Alzheimer’s. But what about the writing itself? What about the content, the plots and the dialogue? Did I do it well enough to intrigue my readers?
I truly wanted to know how to make the book the best it could be. Caregivers needed it to be credible and practical yet also entertaining. The readers who followed the story during Book One deserved a Book Two that would interest them, draw out humor and pathos — a belief in the story.
I wanted my readers to believe that a fictional tale might be real.
So I waited for the critique of my words with anticipation. The man of the house, who is also a writer, suddenly appeared from another room and started to climb the stairs. As if he echoed instruction from the divine source, he said, “Make the Alzheimer’s a character.”
It was one of those moments in life when you know God has sent a prophetic message through another traveler. When you not only appreciate the message but you know that message must be obeyed.
When you feel that jolt of supernatural electricity that helps you believe God is present.
And so I rewrote the book. And as I recrafted each paragraph, I saw how right it was to make the Alzheimer’s a character. I experienced with my dear Reverend G how real this disease is and how it torments the mind.
My mother lives with this disease and daily fights the fear of losing her hold on memories and people. I imagine my mother, just like Reverend G, talks back to the Alzheimer’s and fights it with every mental muscle she can summon.
How right it was to add the Alzheimer’s as an antagonist who attacks beloved Reverend G and forces her to mentally and emotionally battle with an invisible yet imperative force.
Does God care about our characters? As surely as he designs the written word and breathes its creative nuances through writers. He wants this story to be an encouragement to caregivers and to remind us all that even when memory fails, God still abides within us.
So I thank that writer for being the voice of an idea, and I thank my critique group for helping me polish the manuscript.
I also thank the Holy Spirit who birthed this series in the first place and continues to pave the way for the story of Reverend G.
©2014 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1