This summer I got to try something new. I know by now you’re probably thinking, “Anna, get over yourself and your supposedly amazing summer,” but this part’s really cool. So yeah.
A couple of weeks ago, I got to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long, long time. Y’all, I got to drive a jet ski! I didn’t put that on my to-do list because I’ve been wanting to do it for so long and it’s never happened. O me of little faith!
But anyway, I had never even ridden on one, so I put my life in my cousin’s hands and let him show me how you drive the thing. Then, it was my turn. It was thrilling! While I was driving, though, I was doing weird things like trying to memorize the way the jet ski popped over the waves, the feel of the mist on my face, and the way the wind made my cheeks feel really flappy (did any of you ever see that video of the sky-diving old lady whose teeth popped out? That’s what the experience reminded me of. Pleased to say I still have my teeth, though). I did all that because I knew I wanted to include a similar scene in my next writing project.
And that’s what today’s post deals with. Not my old-lady face, but my writing. Specifically, the story I just finished (this is a huge deal, by the way, ‘cause it takes a lot for me to share this kind of stuff).
But first, some background information. So my newly finished novel is about…a girl. I’m thinking a good chunk of the population will find it really relatable.
Seriously, though. The specific details of the story don’t really matter for the purposes of this blog post, so I’ll leave them out. And yes, I do have a thing about not sharing much of my rough, unedited writing. I can count on one hand the number of people who have seen even a paragraph of my story, and I can count on one half of that hand the number of people who have seen the whole manuscript. It’s not that I don’t value the opinions of other people, because I really, really do. In fact, I can’t wait to jump into a little more revision so I can share it with some friends whose opinions I highly value.
But, after finishing the manuscript, I stepped away from it for a six-week break. I’m on week five. I’m having withdrawals from the made-up people I’ve spent countless hours getting to know. I’m going crazy. I’m probably writing about all of this because of those reasons.
And now you’re wondering what in the world this has to do with jet skis. The answer? Probably nothing. I just thought it was a creative segue.
Anyway, when I’m writing those characters I’m currently missing like crazy, I have to build them so they’re like real people. They have to have personality quirks, their own voice, etc, yet still be believable. I’m still working on this. Sometimes, I just have to start completely from scratch to create a character. Like, for example, a conniving, jerkish guy too brainy for his own good who needs Jesus in his life. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I don’t usually spend much time around that type of person. But when it came to creating people like my main character’s friends, for instance, I had some sources I drew from.
This is the part where I’m thankful for great friends. I would see a trait I greatly admired in a friend, then build that into the friends of my main character. Here’s where paying attention to seemingly random details came in handy (Aha! This ties into my jet ski experience!). Even though the characters are completely made-up, they’ve got traces of people I love in them Sometimes it’s the way they react in certain situations, their sense of humor, or their heart for God. Then there’s the smaller stuff, like how often they smile or laugh. If one of the real people these things are modeled after were to read the story, they may or may not be able to pick out how I’ve incorporated something I love about them into these characters, but it’s still there.
And if one of them were to come up to me and say, “Is __insert character’s name here___ based off of me in any way?” Well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I pay attention to the details in people. In a totally non-creepy way, of course.
That reminds me of Psalm 139, which is like a love poem praising God for knowing every single little detail about us. You should definitely read the whole chapter. It’s amazing. Here’s how it opens:
“O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.” –Ps. 139: 1
God knows me. Everything about me. He’s my friend and I am His. The Author of life is into details. He’s developing my character, slowly but surely, so His qualities can be manifested in me. I notice details about people I love. God does that, too. It makes me want to keep learning details about Him as well.
So this post jumped from jet skis, to friendship, to God’s love. But there’s an underlying theme here. It’s about noticing the details. If you don’t slow down enough to notice the details, I think you’ll miss out on a big part of life. All those little details add up. Not only do they keep life interesting, they also give us glimpses into the heart of God and His eye for design. Details may be easy to overlook, but once you notice them, they’re impossible to ignore.
Disclaimer: I’m not in any way suggesting you go stalk people. I just suggest making an intentional decision to notice the uniquely wonderful details God’s placed around you. Unless you’re on Facebook, of course. Then it’s free game…