An Invitation to be Beautiful

“This is grace: an invitation to be beautiful.”
-“Add to the Beauty,” by Sara Groves.

I don’t like to double-post, but I spent roughly two hours walking around the campus barefoot this evening. I haven’t felt so incredibly myself in quite some time. To walk along the stone fences with a rose in one hand and my flip-flops in the other, listening to Sara Groves’s Add to the Beauty. I climbed a tree. I watched the sunset. I saw God in the shades of living green.

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Worth the Sacrifice

A week or so ago I decided to stop writing TGN. I finally discovered what was wrong with it, what was wrong with Cords, and found a solution for the fact I had nothing for the third book of the supposed trilogy. The result is that I’m back to square one. Starting over, again, and it’s going to look completely different by the time I’m done.

I’ve been paging through The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell–a novel that changed my life–for inspiration (I really need to reread it). There is an interview at the end, and it only cements my opinion that Russell is nothing short of genius:

“The idea came […] as we were celebrating the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the New World. […] That’s when I decided to write a story that put modern, sophisticated, resourceful, well-educated, and well-meaning people in the same position as those early explorers and missionaries–a position of radical ignorance.

[…] I found myself drawn to Judaism and eventually converted. When you convert to Judaism in a post-Holocaust world, you know two things for sure: one is being Jewish can get you killed; the other is that God won’t rescue you. This is the theology I was dealing with at the time. […] The central theme is an exploration of the risks and beauties of religious faith.”

And here I am, attempting to recapture the energy that propelled the first novel, the conviction that carried my characters Jenai and Dimitri along, and discover how both they and I lost that firmness of belief half-way through the second story. Trying to figure out why I haven’t been able to shake this story from my blood or my bones for the past eight years. Consciously asking myself, “What are the central themes?” I bemoaned to Kelly how I am not dealing with any universal themes in my novel like Russell does. She said, “Freedom.”

Freedom… and its cost. The sacrifices made by the individual to serve the universal. All of my characters give up their personal dreams for the sake of one larger than themselves. Of exiles recreating a community they lost. Faith, doubt, betrayal. That there is something worth that sacrifice, something worth fighting for, and how each character responds differently.

That’s what I hope to capture, anyhow.