Friday, July 19, 2019

Don’t Let Life Pass You By – JoAnn Durgin

Meme with Henry Miller Quote: "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."

Don’t Let Life Pass You By

When most people randomly pass by an unusual or intriguing scene, they might stop and think, “Well, that’s interesting.” Then they’ll likely move on and forget about it. Creative minds, however, approach a situation from a completely different perspective. As writers, we often record “mental snapshots” from our daily lives. Why? They sometimes reveal a truth about the human condition—those things of life that bind us all together. For whatever reason, they affect us on a deeply personal level, and we don’t want to forget them. Without fail, those moments also raise questions in our mind. Whether or not we ever draw upon the inspiration in a story or a book, the memory becomes embedded inside us.

Although I’ve stored up many “mental snapshots,” here are a handful I’ve never forgotten:

*A pair of well-worn men’s cowboy boots sitting on a step, seemingly abandoned, in downtown Dallas.

*In Rome, a handsome young priest walking away from St. Peter’s. His robes flowed about him and pigeons perched on his outstretched arms while beggar children clamored for his attention.

*A man dressed all in black meeting with a steady parade of girls visiting his corner table at the fast food restaurant in London’s Piccadilly Circus.

*A young woman running on the sidewalk in front of a suburban Boston Marriot on a Saturday at midnight—dressed in wedding finery—alone and barefoot.

Now, here are five poignant scenes I witnessed on a single morning as I drove to work:

*Four elderly women standing outside a Catholic church, arms linked, waiting to cross the street.

*An older man carrying a plastic bag and using a long metal stick to pick up trash on the side of the road—a common sight in his white T-shirt and jeans, shoulders slumped, mouth downturned.

*A homeless man wheeling a heavy cart on a downtown city street. Puffing on a cigarette, he pokes around in a garbage can with his bare hands.

*With school buses lined up in front of a local museum, a little girl runs up the stairs to grab the hand of her assigned partner.

*An ambulance, siren blaring and lights flashing, pauses and then speeds through an intersection.

Writers should always be observers, listeners, and students of life. Be open and be aware. Question, think, and then write from the heart. While many, if not most, of life’s lessons are learned at home, if you’re short on inspiration, change it up—get out of the house! Effective writing taps into emotions and feelings on a visceral level that translates into the lives of your characters. In turn, these “people” become real and jump off your story into the hearts and minds of readers.

Until the next time, embrace and observe life…and then write it down to share with others.


*Modified significantly from the original version of “Don’t Let Life Pass You By” on the blog, Reflections in Hindsight: Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it’s closer than it appears, March 9, 2011.

The Piccadilly Circus vignette referred to in this blog is referenced fictionally in the life of my heroine in A Serendipity Christmas (featured below).

Why writers should create "mental snapshots"! #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Short on inspiration? Change it up—get out of the house! #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

A Serendipity Christmas
A Serendipity Christmas

The holiday season has rolled around once again, and the townspeople of quaint Serendipity, Pennsylvania, are preparing for their annual Christmas Challenge. This year, the funds raised from the various events and activities will benefit the continuing relief efforts in the aftermath of a brutal hurricane season.

Victoria (Tori) Harper agrees to participate in the more physically demanding sporting events of The Christmas Challenge alongside her brother and new father, Donovan, on behalf of his HarperMorgan Advertising Agency. But why has Donovan invited the insufferable and irritatingly appealing Henry Adams to join their team? The man seems determined to drive her to distraction, but Tori’s not about to fall under the charms of a handsome man with a smooth line, even delivered with Henry’s irresistible British accent.

As the youngest attorney in town, Henry has grown to love little Serendipity, and especially his verbal sparring sessions with Victoria Harper in The Coffee Nook and elsewhere around town. She might call him a Snooty Scrooge, but he’s determined to win her heart. If he can’t win that personal challenge by the end of the holiday season, he might as well move on and accept a tempting job offer from a New York law firm.

The second in The Serendipity Christmas Series (following The Christmas Challenge), join Henry as he seeks to win Tori’s love and they’re both reminded of how God is always faithful in His promises. A beautiful celebration of love, faith, family, small-town charm, and the true miracles of the Christmas season!

JoAnn Durgin
JoAnn Durgin is a USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty contemporary Christian romance novels, including her signature Lewis Legacy Series. A native of southern Indiana, JoAnn likes to say she’s “been around in the nicest sense of the word” after living in four states across the country before returning to her hometown with her husband and three children. When she’s not writing, JoAnn loves to travel and spend time with their first grandchild, Amelia Grace. Feel free to connect with her at or via her website at