Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Catch It While You Can!

When I was in college and didn't have the slightest idea that I would ever be a writer, I was required to go to a Shakespeare play. Having been assured all my life that Shakespeare was boring, I reluctantly went to an outdoor performance of "As You Like It."

I was never the same again.

Where had this Shakespeare guy been all my life? Was I blown away because the performance was fun and sweet and well acted? Because the hero, Orlando, was SO cute? (Hey, I was still in my teens!) Or was something else going on?

I have always loved stories, but I was suddenly handed this whole new (to me) package of language and emotion and pageantry. I devoured the comedies as quickly as I could, borrowing videos of them from the library when they were available. After the comedies came the tragedies. Yes, I knew about some of them, but I had never really leapt into them willingly. But soon even those were gone and all that was left was the histories. But, ah, I knew history was boring. Everybody knows that.


I reluctantly checked out a video of "Henry IV, Part One," and immediately fell in love. Family conflict with far-reaching political consequences. I was in heaven. But soon, once the histories had been expended, I decided I wanted to know the truth behind the dramas. Obviously you can't depict the entirety of a king's reign even in a three or four hour play. What events had been left out? Were the characters depicted actually as they were in real life? Which people and events had been changed so the play would fit the dramatic mold?

At the time, I didn't know why medieval English history suddenly consumed me. It had never even slightly interested me before. But soon, mostly to amuse myself during lectures in accounting classes, I started writing a medieval scene. In the aftermath of a battle, a young man wakes up, deeply wounded physically and emotionally, refusing to acknowledge either hurt. Why?

And that was the beginning. After years of playing with the story, never expecting the growing number of scenes to ever become anything anyone but I would see, that little seedling of a scene grew into In Honor Bound, the first book of my medieval trilogy.

Recently, I have been more and more consumed with a different genre, one I've never written, one I rarely read. But this story simply will not leave me alone. I've stayed up till four or five or six in the morning for nearly two weeks now, reading related stories, looking a pictures and videos that depict what I have in my head at least to some degree. I've neglected my housekeeping and my personal blog, my sewing and the Netflix disc that I've had for eight or ten days, I've hardly eaten (a good thing), and all the time I've wondered what was going on in my head. Why in the world am I being so crazy? But this morning, between sleeping and waking, I envisioned a scene that I knew was for this story.

Did I, in writing it down, really capture what I imagined? Will it become a book one day? I can't say that I see it now. I honestly don't know how to write something like this. Others have done it already, and done it much better than I can see me doing it.

But I must follow the story where it takes me. If I'm being prepared to write something I'm called to write, I don't want to miss that calling. I want to see and write that vision. I'll need direction and inspiration and help, I know that much. But whatever comes of what comes to me, I'm determined to capture it before it can skip away and lose itself in the myriad day-to-day tasks that fight it for my attention.

Maybe it's just an obsession. If it is, I hope it's a magnificent one.

Either way, I'm going to catch it while I can.

Do you ever lose an idea because you didn't stop to write it down? Have you had ideas that wouldn't leave you alone no matter how much you needed to do other things?

DeAnna Julie Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. She is the author of In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, a trilogy of medieval romances, and Letters in the Attic, a contemporary mystery. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with four spoiled cats.


  1. All I can say is Hooray! Can't wait to see where this gies!

  2. Im a new Follower :) Looking forward to keeping up to date with your site,
    God Bless, Paula

  3. Good morning, DeAnna. You said maybe you're crazy, but I don't think that at all. You said you rarely read this genre, but I don't think that matters. Something you read sparked something in your creativity, and now you have to run with it. These are usually the books that turn out the best.

    Yes, I've lost ideas because I didn't write them down. Oh, that reminds me, I'd better go write something down....

  4. Hey, everybody!

    Having a bit of a late start because, umm . . . I stayed up almost all night again.

    This had better turn into something.

    Oh, and I had to quickly write down two new ideas before I forgot them.

    Anyway, yes, I'll run with it for now I am going to try to read some recent books in the genre, and I think that may help, too. The ones I have read are more the classics from fifty or sixty years ago, so they're not exactly current. ;)

    Yeah, Deb, I hope something comes of this besides dark circles under my eyes.

    Did you get your ideas safely captured, Suz?

  5. Yes, DeAnna, I did! :-) I hope it turns into something big, just like I know your brainstorm will. Are your two new ideas for the story that's keeping you up at night, or for a different one?

  6. They're for this same story, Suz. Evidently the entire power of my brain (such as it is) refuses to concentrate on anything else. I'm not usually like this . . . except when I am. ;)

    Do you have a basic story line for yours, or are you just jotting down ideas at this point?

  7. It's me, Suzie, answering as "anonymous" because I'm signed in to my school account at the moment and it won't let me answer under my own name. I'm not sure why...

    Actually, DeAnna, this is for a complete manuscript. I didn't really like my hero - he was too sulky and I basically wrote him into a corner with no where to go. I think the rest of the book was good, but my hero needed some major rework. I actually put the book away and have been working on something else, when out of the blue I had this idea that I think will infuse new life into my hero and make him hero material like he should have been from the beginning.

  8. Oh, that's fabulous, Suzie!

    I think sometimes our ideas have to simmer before they're really cooked. And sometimes we can't see why they don't work until we get away from them a while.

    Don't you love it when characters are "alive" enough to stay with you until you get them the way they're supposed to be?

    I'm eager to read your book!

  9. Thanks DeAnna. Yes, this excites me. :) I don't usually rewrite books, but for some reason this one (finished with final edit in 2008) has stayed with me over the years. The funny thing is, after I make this change, it will not be the same book. The tone of the story will have totally changed, and it will be a few years later. That's not a bad thing. In a lot of ways it will be like writing an entire new book.

  10. Hey, whatever it takes. Story rules.

    How exciting for it to become what it's meant to be. Bravo!

  11. Suzie! Happy you're bringing back your story and giving your hero a transfusion.

  12. Wow! Readinf Henry V and the other History plays in that series is jusy exactly what got me intersted in the lives and reigns of the Later Plantagent Kings.
    I read the plays and wanted to know the actual History too.

  13. I loved the tension between Henry IV and Henry V, when Henry V was still Prince Hal and everybody thought he would be a disaster as king.

    The scene where he thinks his father is dead and dares try on the crown, realizing the awesome weight of a king's responsibilities, always gets me.

  14. I love the way that Shakespeare really explores character of Henry IV to give the audience a measure of the man. He is such a complex character, one of the bard's best I would say.
    Yes the tension between father and son is excellent. I personally get very annoyed when people criticse Shakespeare for unfairly 'demonising' Henry IV (he didnt completely) he sinply depicted him as a tortured soul, racked with guilt, whose actions changed him from a good man into a paranoid tyrant.


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