by: Staci Stallings
Sometimes I can watch my life and totally know what God is doing. I can see Him setting things up and how and why He gets things to work. Other times, He takes me totally off-guard.
For those who don’t know, I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer about 90% of the time. That means I may make notes along the way or get pieces of the story before I write them in the story, but I don’t plot the story out before I start writing it. Most of the time, I get an idea (usually in the form of a dream), and I start somewhere and go with it.
Now, thankfully, the Holy Spirit knows what we’re doing because most of the time, I have no clue! I write what He says to write, and we go where He wants to go. That’s not always as easy as it sounds because most of the time what it means for me (a recovering control-freak) is that I’m writing with no idea where this is going or how we’re ever going to get there. Talk about walking on water!
And so it was with “More Than This.” When I started, all I really remember is there was this guy who was sitting in the back corner of a coffee shop with his laptop, typing. He was in a black coat and all hunched over. Yes. That’s how much I had to go on when I started. I didn’t even know the guy’s name. (If you’re wondering how this works…. Yeah, so am I.)
Enter Liz, the cute but very shy waitress who is supposed to bring this guy coffee. And thus began the story of “More Than This.”
I began writing this book right around the time that there was a major upheaval in my life in the form of my son’s extreme difficulty in first grade. What ended up taking about 3 years to unravel showed up in my life about the same time I started “More Than This,” and although at the time I didn’t see it, I know the Holy Spirit was carefully putting in the pieces to make it all come together.
About 50 pages in to the story, I suddenly realized something strange. When Jake (Yay! He now had a name!) was writing, I was never looking through his eyes. I was literally “in his head.” Okay, by now you know I’m weird, so here we go…
When I write, in my head, I “become” the character. I see the world as the character sees it. I navigate the world the way they navigate it—except this time I wasn’t quite doing that. Oh, I was in his head enough to know what he was writing, but I wasn’t seeing his computer screen. That was quite odd. After this strange way of “being in the story” became clear to me, I began to ask, “Why?” Why wasn’t he letting me see that computer screen?
And that’s when God did something really cool. I started to ask, “What would make Jake not want me to see that screen? Why doesn’t he WANT me to see it?” (Because when I first tried, it was very clear he wasn’t about to let me see it.) The answer that came blew me away.
You see, my son Andrew had been struggling and struggling with reading, spelling, and writing in school. As a former English teacher, I thought I could teach anyone to read—it was just a matter of practice. Until I started trying to help Andrew, and “frustration” doesn’t even begin to cover it!
So, God, being the brilliant God He is, had my life on this parallel track I didn’t even realize I was on. In real life, I was trying to find the solutions for dyslexia that my son desperately needed, and in my fiction, I was writing about a guy who was every bit the creative genius my son was, but who had never gotten any help for his dyslexia. I could see in Jake the painful path we would travel if we didn’t work to find something to help Andrew. I could feel the knives of “I’m not good enough” and “I’ve given up on myself” every time I got into Jake’s head and heart. What a hopeless, helpless, horrible feeling. That gave me even more determination to help Andrew.
Around the time we found actual answers for Andrew’s dyslexia, I started writing another book, “Something’s Not Right” about our journey through this confusing maze of something not being right with Andrew and his reading ability. I had thought about putting that book out several times since it was finished, but for some reason (God’s), I never did. Then a month ago, “More Than This” burst back onto my life’s scene. I edited it and then realized that “Something’s Not Right” needed to go out at the same time.
In two weeks, they were both done—with covers.
Sometimes God is truly amazing, and other times, He literally blows my mind. How the Holy Spirit worked the dual journeys of “More Than This” and “Something’s Not Right” from writing to publication and already into the hands of countless readers has definitely blown my mind!
I sincerely hope you are watching for how the Holy Spirit works in your life. It will ground you and inspire you in ways you never could have imagined!