I’ve had a few passions in my life. Mind you, I’m talking about passions other than my husband and children. Those are a given. Surely, you know what I’m referring to here—that all-encompassing desire and “I have to have it now” mentality that seizes you and won’t let go until it’s satisfied. Yes, I’m referring to material “things” but also to those ideas, concepts and things that are truly unforgettable and will stay with me always.
Let’s start by classifying these passions. The first is the Fleeting Passion. For me, it started in second grade when some of the girls in my class pranced into school wearing their brand new go go boots. I’m not talking about the knee-high white boots made popular on television, but the shorter boots (mid-calf or thereabouts) worn by little girls. They symbolized being “cool” and I begged my mom for a pair of those boots. For the first time that I can recall, I shed honest-to-goodness “I have to have them, Mommy!” tears. When she finally relented, I wore those boots with such pride as I marched into school—and realized most of the other girls also had them and suddenly they weren’t so groovy anymore. I wore them for a few weeks but quickly tired of having to constantly scrub off the black scuff marks. Lesson learned.
The second type of passion is the Lasting Passion. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that a big one in this category is books! One of my favorite days in school was getting the Scholastic flyers and ordering new books. Oh, the anticipation! Call me weird, but even those flyers had a unique scent that I’ll never forget. The days those books arrived was like a mini-Christmas for me. I loved everything about books—the opportunity to escape into a different world and to live vicariously through a character’s journey. I also devoured biographies of famous Americans and then discovered my lifelong obsession with Louisa May Alcott’s books. Little Women was a favorite. I especially identified with Jo March in that particular book and her desire to write stories. Imagine that!
This stage is also represented by my pre-teen days of hiding beneath the sheets late at night and reading Nancy Drew’s latest escapade with her chums Bess and George and her boyfriend, Ned. As soon as I received my $5 weekly allowance, I’d go to the store and purchase three hardback copies of Nancy Drew Books. I loved solving each mystery with Nancy and I attribute my obsession with the titian-haired teenage sleuth with my lifelong love of reading and writing. Nancy’s father, Carson Drew, a widower, epitomized a man strong in character and perhaps subconsciously inspired my admiration for those in the legal profession. It could be one reason why I worked as a legal assistant and a paralegal for most of my working life before recently transitioning into full-time writing. And I’m equally sure Carson Drew’s influence is why lawyer Atticus Finch is my all-time favorite fictional hero!
As a teenager, a trip to a church rummage sale and a couple of dollars netted me a brown grocery bag full of Grace Livingston Hill books. Through the pages of those books, I discovered what a pure, moral, sweet romance could be with God at its center. In many ways, the heroines I remembered from those books were very much like my beloved Jo March, Nancy Drew and Cinderella combined. Perhaps that’s why I write the stories I do. Books about people who aren’t perfect, but people who try their best to live godly lives. I make them as realistic as I can as they face their share of challenges, tragedy, emotional trauma and conflict. But they also ultimately experience life’s joys and triumphs.
I’ve always been a star-gazer in some way or another. Not constellations, but of TV stars “back in the day.” My mom would buy the Hollywood “fan” magazines that actually printed addresses for the agents and studios of well-known stars. I started writing to some of the stars I admired and it was like Christmas all over again when I received an autographed photo. For the most part, those autographs were genuine signatures, smears and all.
I adored a 17-year-old ingénue named Lesley Ann Warren in her charming portrayal of Cinderella in the Rodgers and Hammerstein television musical (originally released in 1965). I wrote an impassioned letter to her, and in response, I received a glossy headshot. She’d written “Most Sincerely, Lesley Ann Warren” in beautiful penmanship on the photo of her in that gorgeous ball gown. Cinderella’s timeless story captivated me in a new way. I bought the cast album and wore it out, singing along and reliving the moments of the movie. To this day, I can still sing many of those songs lyric-for-lyric. The scenes with the oh-so-handsome prince (Stuart Damon) and Cinderella dancing together at the ball, singing to one another and then sharing a sweet, first kiss completely captivated my young imagination.
Good golly, I’d discovered romance!
Third and final is Forever Passion. At 25, I was very much like my character Lexa Clarke in my debut novel, Awakening—living a moral life but not understanding a relationship with the Lord was what I lacked in my life. I’d gone forward at an altar call when I was at Christian camp at the age of 13, but that’s where my spiritual growth was stunted. It wasn’t until I moved to Dallas and made friends with some wonderful Christian people that my eyes were opened to what I’d been missing.
During that time, I began to study God’s word in Bible studies and in church and discovered a very real passion for the Lord. In God’s perfect timing, a young man from Dallas Seminary, Jim Durgin, entered my life. I finally understood I needed to do more than invite the Lord into my heart. I needed to hold fast to His promises. I wanted to share his abundant love and be a shining “light” to others. I needed Him to be my friend and walk alongside me with every step I take through my life’s journey. You see, I’d finally discovered a “forever” kind of passion. The kind of “need to have it now” passion I pray I’ll always have and never lose sight of or allow to fade. The kind of passion to instill in my children and grandchildren. Truly, there will never be a greater demonstration of love or a greater, more timeless and enduring love story.
Someone once told me, “You must have experienced a great love in your life to be able to write the stories you do.” True enough, but although she referred to my love story with Jim, I couldn’t write the faith-inspired stories I do without the love, grace and mercy of God’s most precious love.
I’d love to hear about some of your passions! If you leave a comment and would like to read an eBook of any one of my books, please let me know which one. One commenter will be chosen to receive an eBook for you or a friend of your choosing!
I enjoyed your post, JoAnn. I loved those Scholastic book flyer too! They were a highlight of school for me. :)
Thanks for sharing your heart with us.
JoAnn Durgin says
I’m glad I’m not the only one who shares that unique trait with me about the Scholastic flyers, Kimberly! I knew we were truly *sisters* in several ways! :) Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Blessings.
Great post which sure didn’t surprise me. You and I surely were alike in a lot of our early reading. I read and loved all the same authors you mentioned! Currently I am reading and am almost through with Echoes of Edinburgh. What a delightful read! This was an e-book I won somehow (I don’t quite remember how!) I certainly plan to read more of your books. Blessings from our precious Lord and Savior.
JoAnn Durgin says
Hi Faith, and it’s so great to see you here! I *think* you might have won the copy of my Echoes of Edinburgh right here on InspyRomance (from last month’s post)! You’ve made my day with your sweet comment, and I’m so happy you’re enjoying your visit to Edinburgh with Shelby and Harrison. :) Many blessings to you, as well.
Jan Elder says
JoAnn, I LOVE that version of Cinderella with Leslie Ann Warren, too. In fact, my husband gave me the DVD a couple of years ago for Christmas. I play it when I need a little romantic inspiration. We should get together and sing a few songs from the musical!
JoAnn Durgin says
I would LOVE that, Jan! You know what, though? I only have the old VHS tape and I’m not sure I even have a video player anymore. I need to buy that DVD now, too! It’s the first TV movie I remember ever seeing that made such a lasting impact on me. And yes, it seems like only, yes, Ten Minutes Ago… :) Blessings, and thanks for stopping by InspyRomance today! Blessings.
I love your post JoAnn. And we have even more in common now. I was obsessed with Nancy Drew…and still am to a certain extent. And Little Women is one of my all time favorites. I still think Jo should have ended up with Laurie though…..can I write an alternate version? I was thrilled a few months ago when my 12 year old started going through my collection of Nancy Drew books and determined that she LOVED Nancy. Yipppeee.
JoAnn Durgin says
Thanks, Belle! I can certainly understand your obsessions, trust me. :) Glad to know we share these things in common, as well. I still have all 50 of my original Nancy Drew books plus the Nancy Drew Cookbook! Neither of my girls were as excited about Nancy’s adventures as I was, unfortunately, so I know how thrilled you are that your daughter loves them! And you know what? I absolutely agree about Jo and Laurie. I remember how upset I was that he married her sister. Go ahead and write an alternate version! I would read it. :) Blessings.
Oh the fond memories of those Scholastic Book Flyers, I loved them and couldn’t wait for them to come out every couple weeks. Most of the time I was only allowed 1 book and it was so hard to choose which one, I am still that way today, choosing one book is so hard when there are so many to choose from, Thank you for sharing your passions, as we seem to have two passions in common. I can’t not wait to read one of your books.
JoAnn Durgin says
Hi Deborah, and thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment! I can’t remember how many books I was allowed to buy from each Scholastic flyer, but I know I treasured those days when the books arrived. My life has been so enriched by books starting with that all-important one, of course–the Holy Bible. As much as I can, I try to convey the *lessons* of God’s hope, love, grace and mercy through my Christian romances. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to read one of my books soon! Blessings.
I loved the Scholastic Book flyers, Nancy Drew and go go boots.
I always didn’t get all the books I wanted but my family encouraged reading.
Nancy Drew under the covers, yes and my go go boots were brown.
JoAnn Durgin says
Thanks for your comment, Linderellar! Seems like we have quite a few things in common. I actually paid homage to Nancy Drew in my debut novel, Awakening, and some of my other “passions” have also shown up in books, as well. :) Hope you still enjoy reading today. Blessings, and thank you for stopping by Inspy Romance!
DK Stevens says
Nancy Drew Books! So long ago… I couldn’t wait for the next one to arrive in the mail :) I would love to read any one of your books. One of your choosing would be wonderful ! !
JoAnn Durgin says
Thank you for your comment, DK! I appreciate your stopping by InspyRomance. I would take my $5 allowance money each week to buy Nancy Drew books (just like the ones shown in the photo). My mom would take me to the store every Friday after dinner, and it was a big highlight of the week for several years. Blessings!