John Anthony writes.
I came across a short text document I wrote many years ago. It was back in early 2000, and I had jotted down an idea I had for a story. It was about a boy—probably me—growing up in the 1970s. It’s the idea that would eventually become my novella, A MOMENT IN MAGIC HOUR.

I remember writing the idea down. I was feeling nostalgic, having just left behind another year and entering the new millennium. My childhood seemed to be ever further away. And at thirty-one, I was well into my adulthood, which seemed to have crept up on me without warning.

The little idea remained in my head for several years, appearing at the times I’d be wistfully looking back on my life. The story continued to ferment and grow over the years, until 2014, when I began to focus on getting the thoughts out of my head, and turned into words on paper.

There is a reason I am sharing this with you. It demonstrates how an idea—in my case, just a few short paragraphs long—can develop over time. If you allow your desire and personal experience to feed that idea, it will continue to grow and develop. At first you may feel the final product is so far away it’s unreachable, but as the idea grows, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem, you will witness it become something more beautiful than you ever anticipated.

All things begin with a seed. An idea. We may not see what that seed will become—and to others it may be folly—but if it’s important to us, we’ll nourish it to see what blooms.

For those of you who have read A MOMENT IN MAGIC HOUR, I’m excited to show you the seed that became the novel.

Be well and do good things, my friends.

January 5th, 2000.

There’s a time in everyone’s life when the world doesn’t go past the end of your block. Anything that matters is visible from your front yard, and the people that are important lay on the grass with you, looking up into the blue sky, pointing out shapes in the clouds as the warm rays from the sun wash your faces. School is out, the neighborhood is buzzing with activity as bikes whiz up and down the street, trolling for other kids to run out the front door, pick up their bike off the front lawn, kick the grass off the pedals, and race off after you on some kind of adventure.

That’s how my tenth summer started. We all have defining moments in our lives. The summer of 1977 was such a time, for me. I was ten-years-old and found out I was going to have a third little sister.

Would this make a decent novel?

Open to Change

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

My lack of updates, of late, by no means indicates I have abandoned this blog. I have simply been hard at work finalizing my Christmas novella, The Journey of Joseph Winter, and taking in all of the notes and suggestions from my editor, Pam.

While the idea of writing the story in first-person journal form made sense to me ten years ago, she was correct in pointing out it isn’t the best way to tell the story. Many things have changed since it was originally written as a story for my family. It grew from roughly 6,000 words to nearly 15,000 during my rewrite, and I should have taken into consideration changing the format at that time, but I resisted. I wanted it to be in journal format.

One of the many things I’m learning as I go through this process for the first time is that I need to learn to let go and be open to change. I need to do what’s best to serve the story, because that’s what this is all about. If I’m not focusing on telling the best story I can, in a way that makes it the greatest it can be, I shouldn’t consider publishing.

The best thing I ever did was go to Pam for help. Not only did I get unbiased feedback, I’m learning much more from it than I ever anticipated.

While we may think we’re great writers, it helps to get impartial feedback on your work. And when we’ve never published before or written anything professionally, there is so much to learn. Pam has shown me things I may not have considered and pointed out elements of the story that simply did not make sense.

As I’m writing, what makes sense in my head may not be communicated effectively on the page. In my head, I create reasoning for what I’m writing through a backstory, which may not adequately be communicated in the words that make it onto the page.

She helped me see this.

So, while I may have thought (hoped) I delivered a masterpiece, I was open to honest feedback on what I’d written. Now, The Journey of Joseph Winter is on its way to becoming something more than I anticipated it could be. It’s a lot of work to make these changes, but Pam is correct—the changes serve the story better. It is going to be special, and it is going to be the best story it can be.

With Pam’s invaluable evaluation, she has helped put me on a path to becoming a better writer.

If you are working on your first novel or your tenth, hire an editor and always be open to change.

The Journey of Joseph Winter will be published in the fall of 2014.