Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why I Write… By Melanie Dobson

Some people wake up one day with an idea and decide to write a book. They publish their grand idea, sell thousands or even millions of copies, and then they’re done. They’ve accomplished this feat and never feel compelled to write again.

Some days I wish I could stop writing. Stroll through a museum or park or even a cemetery without etching every detail into my mind for reference. Enjoy a dinner or coffee out without eavesdropping on conversations around me. Savor a sunset without wondering how I’ll describe my experience later on the blank page.

It’s annoying. Obsessive. But I can’t seem to stop myself.

I started writing when I was seven, journaling short clips about pizza nights with my family, visiting Grandpa and Grandma on the weekends, and the skinny on what my friends said at school. When I was nine, I wrote my “autobiography”—a single typed paragraph, splotched with Wite-Out and smeared ink.

When I was eleven, I started my first novel—a mystery about an old house and some detective kids. About fifty handwritten pages into it, I discovered that writing the middle section of a novel is hard. I didn’t have a clue where my story was going so I quit, but I fell in love with the creative process. I knew I wanted to write fiction when I grew up.

In sixth grade, I wrote a weekly newsletter for my class. By high school, I was writing for the school newspaper and yearbook. And when I graduated, I began writing articles for my hometown newspaper to help pay for college—a journalism degree, of course.

You get the idea…

When I started writing fiction as an adult, I began in small chunks. Ten minutes before breakfast. An hour while my girls napped. For as long as I could stay awake at night (which wasn’t very long with two babies). Then I thought about my next idea as I ate lunch, pushed the stroller, and shopped at the grocery store. My biggest issue was not finding time to write. It was—and still is—finding time to live around my writing.

It took seven years of steady writing before a publisher contracted for my first novel. A dozen published novels later (and four that are collecting dust), I still love to create fiction. God gave me this passion…desire…dream. And I feel His pleasure when I’m working out the details of a story.

Even if I never publish again, I’ll keep scribbling journal entries and creating stories like I did as a kid, remembering details and conversations in my ordinary life to expound on later. I’ve discovered that writing is integral to who God has made me, and I’m grateful that He presses me forward every day, compelling me to write down the stories He’s placed in my heart and mind.

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Even if I never publish again, I’ll keep scribbling journal entries and creating stories. Click to Tweet
I’ve discovered that writing is integral to who God has made me. Click to Tweet
He presses me forward daily, compelling me to write the stories He’s placed in my heart. Click to Tweet

MELANIE DOBSON is the award-winning author of twelve novels, including her latest The Courier of Caswell Hall. In 2011, Melanie won ACFW Carol Awards for The Silent Order and Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, and in 2010, Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana, was chosen as the Best Book of Indiana (fiction).

Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family, and she worked in public relations for fifteen years before she began writing fiction full time. Born and raised in the Midwest, she has lived all over America, including eight years in Virginia. Now she resides with her husband and two daughters near Portland, Oregon. Read more at MelanieDobson.com.

The Courier of Caswell Hall
As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.

As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.