by Peter Leavell
I just finished shoveling the snow on the sidewalks of a seventeen-acre apartment complex today. Twice.
You know, for a successful debut novelist who dreamed of writing full time, working apartments isn’t a dream job. In fact, it’s not fun at all. It barely pays the bills.
So why do I still have a smile on my face?
Because I keep in mind three very important items.
Reality and the Writer
The first is reality. Writers don’t make money. They write. If you’re in this for the money, then do something else. But maybe that’s good. What if Charles Dickens hadn’t seen utter poverty before turning to writing? Or Jack London’s wandering from job to job hadn't given him the experience to write brilliant stories? What if Louisa May Alcott’s job resume wasn't as long as London’s? Could she meet the reader at his or her level? When Mark Twain traveled the Mississippi River, did he know he would be the most influential writer America ever produced, because he knew the river so well?
Secondly, these men and women lived by working first. Observing the world. And then incorporating what they saw, learned, and most intriguing, felt physically and emotionally.
While few of us write at the level of these authors (speak for yourself, Mr. Leavell!), I keep in mind that I must have a job to write. Not simply to make money, although it’s a necessity, but to really live. Shovel snow, because characters shovel snow. Paint houses, drive all night, eat peas (yuck!), and just generally observe, because that’s what our characters do.
Keeping that in mind makes it easier to get through my day and to my computer at night when I can plink out a few words.
The God Factor
And thirdly, and most importantly, you’re in God’s hands. Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘Plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.’” NASB
Oh, come now. Is anything better that to know that you can cling to hope? And that you have a future? Controlled by God?
What a relief to know that this snow-shoveling writer’s future isn’t entirely up to him. Because he would have chosen to write full time. But he can’t, because he has to make a living. But it gives me something to write about.
And that puts a smile on my face.
Author Peter Leavell forges an unprecedented tale of tragedy and triumph amid the backdrop of the Civil War through the story of Tad, a very clever slave boy who comes of age as America’s war reaches the sea islands of South Carolina. Tad’s desire to better himself is obstructed by the color of his skin, until Northern soldiers force the evacuation of white plantation owners, setting 10,000 slaves free in a single day. These circumstances seem like a dream, except that the newly freed slaves have no money, no education, and little hope for the future—unless someone rises up to lead them. Based on true events, Gideon’s Callis the dramatic tale of a young man who battles the shame of his past and faces the horrors of war and unimaginable prejudice to become the deliverer of thousands of freed slaves.
Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com and on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PeterLeavell.