Today's guest blogger is Joy DeKok, author of the contemporary women's fiction novel, Rain Dance.
Jonica is infertile. Stacie chooses an abortion. One is prolife the other prochoice. Both are suddenly alone in misunderstanding, facing hypocrisies in their belief systems, and grieving – one the death of a dream and the other the death of her child. As their hearts break where in the world will they find healing and grace? Can shattered dreams be part of the plan?
The Friendship Factor by Joy DeKok
Writing an issue based book is difficult when the writer is able to keep her distance. When the author and her friends are intimately involved, it’s painful. It also labels the author as a rule breaker. Author intrusion is not encouraged.
When I started to write Rain Dance my main concern was how the character who is most like me would come across to readers. When I tried to make Jonica more heroic, she annoyed me so I had to let her be herself. Her struggles mirrored mine and so I walked through the hurt again.
Then came Stacie. She startled me with her beauty, determination, and pain. While she is not modeled after one of my friends, she is a combination of several. Her pain is also theirs.
Writers are often asked what they’re working on. When I’m with people who are genuinely interested, I’ll tell them. I have a short description ready. During the writing of Rain Dance I’d answer, “A novel about two women. One is infertile and the other chooses an abortion. They’re both grieving.” Every time I said these words at least one friend in hearing distance would contact me later to tell me they knew Stacie’s story intimately. Friends. Women I knew well who kept this choice in their lives a secret shrouded in shame.
Sitting in my living room I told an especially close friend about my current writing project. That evening I was on a bit of a high – the characters were coming together and I felt like the story had a life of its own – I was simply the messenger. I was on a bit of a verbal roll when she quietly said, “I had an abortion a long time ago.” Who knew a writer’s passion would make it safe? Not me. I listened as she told me her story.
And, it continued through the whole writing process – everywhere I went women opened their hearts to me. I watched in wonder as they spoke. Although regret lingered, they shed the chrysalis of their shame as they released their story into my life.
These brave and generous friends became the heart beat of the book and then they did more. They encouraged me when I was ready to give up. They cheered when I wrote over a hump or through a slump. They listened to my pain as I shared Jonica’s and prayed for me as I did my best to represent theirs to our future readers. Ours. Theirs and mine.
Along the way, I discovered the simple truth: while our experiences and choices were vastly different, our pain was surprisingly similar. We had more in common than our gender and faith. We were sisters in sorrow.
A reader who is neither a Jonica or a Stacie recently wrote, “Rain Dance is so real I felt like I was reading a biography of two women.”
I grinned realizing that while I’d broken one writing rule (I fully intruded), I obeyed perhaps the most common one taught: Write what you know. I could only do that when I was able to factor in my friend’s stories. If Rain Dance is a success, it is ours to share – mine and theirs.
Joy DeKok and her husband, Jon, live in Minnesota on thirty-five acres of woods and fields. Joy has been writing most of her life and as a popular speaker shares her heart and passion for God with women. In addition to writing novels, she has also published a devotional and several children’s books.