Monday, March 11, 2013

Snow Shoveling by Peter Leavell

Peter Leavell
If you've already peeked at the title of today's post, you're probably wondering what snow shoveling has to do with writing. Peter Leavell is back this week with more relatable thoughts on the writing life. I think you'll find yourself nodding your head in agreement. Enjoy! ~ Annette

Snow Shoveling 
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.


Gideon's Call
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 and on his Facebook page:

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  1. Shoveling snow so a writer would know how a character lived never crossed my mind--what a NOVEL idea! But even better, shoveling snow because God has a plan for you makes it a wonderful task as you do your best for the glory of the Lord no matter what task He has given. You go, Peter!

  2. I love this post, Peter! Thanks for bringing us all back to reality. You nailed it.

  3. Thanks Peggy! Sending you snow... haha.

    Jocelyn, keep up the great work!

  4. I don't have any snow to shovel so I guess I'll have to find some if I ever have one of my characters doing that kind of work. I agree with you that the more experiences a writer can have, the more observations about life that will end up on the page. But don't overlook the power of the imagination. I just read the first chapter of your very interesting first novel, GIDEON'S CALL, and your imagination seems to be a gem. Not many writers would take on a story about the Civil War from a young slave's point of view, but you not only took on this challenge, you more than excel at it. I was hooked by your first pages, and I look forward to reading more of it. Keep writing, find your audience, and no matter how much (or how little) money you make along the way, you can proudly call yourself a writer.

  5. Thank you so much, Darlene. Thank means a lot. Next project... ancient Rome.

  6. Thanks for this, Peter. I needed it today as I bemoaned the boring task I was doing all morning at City Hall and wondering when I'm ever going to get another book written. You are, of course, absolutely right.

  7. Keep writing, Terrie. But work is material. Literally.

  8. Snow shoveling is much like writing ... you're never really quite finished.


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