SEPTEMBER HOLIDAYS CELEBRATE WRITERS!
Dear Diary Day
When looking through the list of Holidays for the month of September I could not believe what I discovered: the “Dear Diary Day?” How did that make it onto this list? Quickly, an image of my friend, Ruth, came to mind. She is an amazing librarian and friend who helps me locate the most obscure information. Many times she’s gone to the back room and brought a diary into a secluded reading room for me to read. Oh, yes. She would definitely approve of celebrating Diary Writers.
If you’ve ever had the privilege of holding an “old” diary in your hands you’ll understand beauty of the moment and depth of real life story that it holds. The illustration I’ve added here is a page from a woman’s diary written as she traveled the Oregon Trail. Abigail Scott Duniway’s words convey every emotion, and offer us a way to imagine what that life was like.
Another, better-known diary is that written by Anne Frank. Her heart’s cry rings throughout history and speaks to the world today saying: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
When the movie “Glory” was made—from the book “Lay this Laurel” by Lincoln Kirstein and Richard Benson—researchers confirmed many of the author’s facts from letters, journals and diaries. Set during the American Civil War, and the first all-volunteer “colored regiment,” the authenticity and heart of those events were told through those handwritten “true stories” and brought to life by many superlative actors. During the filming the scene depicted one of the colored soldiers, portrayed by Denzel Washington, being flogged. At his direction he was “lashed at full contact with a special whip that would not cut his back, but still stung. For the final take of that scene Zwick (the director) called “Cut!” to signal the flogging to stop and the result was Washington’s spontaneous tear down his cheek.” (imdb.com/glory/trivia)
IT IS WHEN WE, AS WRITERS, develop our stories with these levels of authenticity, that we will discover the true joy of writing. The greatest novels ever written come from the heart.
Recently I discovered a more present-day true story titled: An American Pilot: Memoirs of Love and War by Patricia Ann Beck. Although this novel is fictionalized the events come right out of the author’s journals and memories. When the husband, a U.S. Air Force pilot is deployed to Turkey during the war in Cyprus, his family is transported with him on a life-changing journey. Even as they experience the culture-shock-syndrome—the fear and danger that surrounds them—they learn more about family relationships. Together they uncover the inside story of the Muslim culture—the Truth behind the veil as every experience transforms their Faith in God and His constant presence in the midst of every moment.
One reviewer of this book stated, “The author has a very sincere way with words. She made me feel like I was right beside her…actually seeing it for myself.”
Keyword for the day: AUTHENTIC. When we allow ourselves (as writers) to be as truthful in our books as we are in our personal journals and dairies, THAT is when Readers will appreciate those books, buy them as gifts for close friends and new friends, and read them again…and again.
NOW, CONSIDER giving yourself a vacation to read your favorite based-on-a-true-story novel (my current favorite is AD30 and AD33 by Ted Dekker). Soak in the settings (descriptions) and the character development (layer-by-layer). Yes, that may take a week or two, but then you’ll be ready to go back to your writing room, complete your novel, and get it published! ⚓︎