Friday, January 30, 2015

The Lens of Hindsight by Brandy Vallance

Brandy Vallance

Brandy’s article came at the perfect moment. I'd had several challenging weeks. Though I’d blocked out large chunks of time to write, unexpected needs had taken priority. You know how it goes. I was beginning to feel anxious because precious writing time kept slipping from my grasp. Experiencing the same thing? Read on! ~ Dawn

The Lens of Hindsight
Hindsight is 20/20, but when you’re going through something, it’s hard to connect the dots. As a writer, sometimes those dots are even harder to connect. Struggles are in abundance and discouragement beats on your door with a vengeance. Every day you have to make the choice to sit in the chair. One of the lessons I’ve had to learn is how to give myself grace.

Looking back on my journey to seeing my first book published, there were a lot of detours. But when you look at those detours in the lens of hindsight, events come into focus. There was a lot of learning that I needed to do, and it takes time to develop a thick skin. In order to write a story that has depth, the author has to go through some things.

I know. I’m cringing at my own statement. This is the part we don’t like. But when I think about my eleven drafts of The Covered Deep, I also think about the corresponding seasons in my life. As time passed, I could see a little more clearly. To each draft I was able to bring a little something more.

It’s hard to be patient with yourself when you’re a writer. There are a lot of voices around you that tend to push. Why do you write when there is no contract in sight? Aren’t you finished with that book yet? Etc. 

There is a really brilliant passage from The Thirteenth Tale, which has stuck with me:

“All my life and all my experience, the events that have befallen me, the people I have known, all my memories, dreams, fantasies, everything I have ever read, all of that has been chucked onto the compost heap, where over time it has rotted down to a dark, rich, organic mulch. The process of cellular breakdown makes it unrecognizable. Other people call it the imagination. I think of it as a compost heap. Every so often I take an idea, plant it in the compost, and wait. It feeds on the black stuff that used to be a life, takes its energy for its own. It germinates. Takes root. Produces shoots. And so on and so forth, until one fine day I have a story, or a novel . . . Readers are fools. They believe all writing is autobiographical. And so it is, but not in the way they think. The writer's life needs time to rot away before it can be used to nourish a work of fiction. It must be allowed to decay.”

If I could talk to the old me—say fourteen years ago—I’d speak some grace into the striving. I’d tell myself to worry less. And if I could do anything for you, it would probably be the same.

You have a choice. Don’t let the “I’m not published yet” thing affect your self-worth. You are of immeasurable value and there is only one person who can write that story that begs to be told. Only you have the experiences, emotions, and heart that will be needed. This journey is far more important than you think. It is changing you for the better. It is changing your story.

So yes, work hard. But give yourself some grace on the days when the word count just won’t come. And when that appointment with that editor or agent doesn’t work out, take a deep breath and trust in God’s larger plan. And when life is overwhelming and you just don’t see how being a writer fits in, have faith that He who has called you to this wild and wonderful task will give you all the pieces when it’s time.

Until then, let your heart grow as your words do. Be brave and live beautifully. And when you look back through the lens of hindsight, I hope you’ll be able to feel a sense of rightness.

Give yourself grace. Dream like crazy. One day at a time.


Bianca Marshal is looking for a man who can quote both Jesus and Shakespeare. Not surprisingly, that man is hard to find in the small Appalachian town where she lives. Her mother insists that Bianca lower her standards. One the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, even Bianca wonders if her mother is right.

Still set on experiencing love, or at least a little adventure, Bianca wins an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for the perfect hero. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of Palestine, Bianca's true love will be revealed—but not without a price that might be too heavy to pay.

Brandy Vallance fell in love with the Victorian time period at a young age, loving the customs, manners, and especially the intricate rules of love. Since time travel is theoretically impossible, she lives in the nineteenth century vicariously through her novels. Unaccountable amounts of black tea have fueled this ambition. Brandy's love of tea can only be paralleled by her love of Masterpiece Theater Classics, deep conversations, and a good book. Brandy is the 2013 Operation First Novel winner and the 2012 winner of the ACFW Genesis Contest for historical romance.

To learn more and connect with Brandy, please visit these online sites:

Twitter: @BrandyVallance