When I took the introductory class for my Masters in Creative Writing, one of the books I had to read was Writing for Story by Jon Franklin. The fourth chapter in the book, “Stalking the True Short Story,” was based on two famous stories he wrote, one of which was his Pulitzer Prize-winning entry, “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster.”
Because everybody would love to win a Pulitzer Prize, his comments are worth noting. To quote Jon Franklin on page 81: “One of the best ways to teach positive lessons while entertaining at the same time is to write stories about how people successfully cope with the world, endure, and even sometimes win.”
I have thought a lot about that. Much of what I report as a television captioner is mundane news to a world that hardly blinks an eye at the everyday, run-of-the-mill, shoot ‘em up, rob-him blind, dope-addicted, shoddy moral, or over-spending bureaucratic figure news story which people scoff and ignore if it doesn’t affect them directly.
In contrast, Jon Franklin dug deep for the motivations, the conflicts, the resolutions, and the redemptive endings in his books and articles. In the same vein, when I wrote Children of Dreams, I wanted to share a part of me that no one else knew. I risked being venerable, revealing traits and values that I knew some would not understand. I am not perfect, and did I really want to reveal my failures, confess by doubts, and admit my flaws?
Our lives, particularly if we are memoir authors, must be real or we will come across every bit like the superficial news stories that I alluded to above—irrelevant to the reader. Too much of our time is lived at a frenzied pace with quick posts on Facebook and Twitter, or text messages written in code, risking little, and only recognizable enough to make us feel we have value in the world of cyberspace.
If you have been forsaken by your family, hurt by others, stuck in a job you hate, gone through a divorce, experienced major health issues, sacrificed your own lost dreams, or struggled in your Christian walk, I share unabashedly with profound honesty how God helped me through these tragedies. This is the “true story” within the story in Children of Dreams. There is no superficiality—only raw emotion and truth. I had to get permission from my kids and family. There are still open wounds that God will have to heal. There was a price to pay and I am still dealing with it now. Do I regret it? No. I know God will eventually redeem all which is broken.
The typical reader, much like a typical reporter, will see Children of Dreams as another adoption story; give it a cursory glance, and move on. The sensate reader, who reads for deeper meaning, will experience God’s profound love and redemptive hope, knowing without any doubt, God is the fulfiller of dreams.
My desire is that the reader will be stirred—emotionally renewed and batteries charged, believing if God can do the impossible for me, he can do the same for him. God can heal infected wounds, redeem broken dreams, and convince the skeptic to believe in miracles. None of us should live as though we have no hope, and Children of Dreams is a testimony to God’s grace, reassuring the reader that where there is God, there is always hope.
Children of Dreams won bronze in the 2016 Readers Favorite Book Awards for Memoir. You purchase from Amazon in Kindle, print, or audio format, click here.
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