Devastation rippled through my family like a tornado when my parents divorced. We were a public family in a small rural area full of potato fields and town gossips. Throw in rumors of an affair, and add a big dose of religion, and that was a recipe for thick judgment. The assessment was aimed at my family and the individual players, but mostly at my parents. This is a common enough occurrence for the well-known families covered with the trappings of success—large house, money, and healthy children.
The town gossips reeked hell on my mother, who had become a single mother out of the mess. Back in the days when the phone was attached to a wall, she received endless calls day and night. Callers would breathe heavily over the phone lines or utter graphic sexual references of what they wanted to do to her.
It was creepy.
Then there were the townspeople that like to stop and point. Behind their hands covering their lips, we would hear them rattling on about the latest gossip of our family and what they claimed was happening during our free fall.
We held our heads high as we passed by and endured our personal persecution. As a family, we had an unspoken motto that if you were going to be the target of speculation and judgment, you might as well look good in the spotlight. We made sure to dress well and have our hair and make-up perfect. The girls in the family had the hip swing down. After all, if you are to put on a show might as well make it a good one.
During all this, my mom, who was a sensitive sort, felt things deeply.
She reeled from having her marriage end. She never saw it coming. She had loved my father passionately and given it her all. She supported him through countless years of school and worked hard as a housewife, spouse, and mother.
From the outside, I could see the strain on her tense face, the pounds that just kept falling off her, giving her a two-digit weight. She became a shell of a person floating through the days just trying to make it through.
Feeling the depths of her pain and trying to cheer her up, I decided to write her a love story, where someone like her falls in love with the most unlikely man. Through that love, she becomes healed and finds her inner strength to claim her life and make it better than when she was married.
Looking back now, maybe part of my drive to tell that story was to heal myself, too. Perhaps I was focused on my mom’s pain so I didn’t have to look at my own. Even though I was in my twenties at the time, and married with children, the unraveling of a family, especially when it was so public, did have its effects. We were public because of my father’s position in the community.
Whatever the drive, we were in trauma, and I turned to creativity, which I suspect many people are doing now as the coronavirus rages through the world, causing so much pain, and destruction.
I based my love story in Island Park, Idaho, which our family had often escaped to for its nature’s healing powers. I often protested going as a teenager, wanting to be in the midst of football games, dances, boys, of course, and my friends.
When I was young, my mom had told me that I would always have this place in my soul. I guess she was right since I have based many novels, at least in part, in that section of the country.
I wrote about a woman who fled to Island Park for the healing magic that could be found next to the reservoir, the hoot of an owl, and the adventure of skunks, elks, and bears. The main lead, unlike my mom, was a professor on superstition. My father always had the worse Friday the Thirteen of any person I ever have known.
My father is an extremely educated, successful man who has held many prestigious leadership positions in the community, and yet when Friday the Thirteen comes around either his superstitions or the real reality of Friday the Thirteen hits and all sort of craziness happens. It became so bad that the entire family jokes they want to be in a different state then him.
Me, personally, I make sure that I am in a different state just to keep his bad voodoo away. Why risk it?
I mixed all this together and thought this would be the perfect man for my main character. I dreamed up a very manly man with a cowboy hat, confidence, and a bit of the quiet side of living and plugged this into the mystic of nature.
Flash forward fifteen years later.
The novel had sat in my files and a new publisher wanted to take a look at the tale I had spun out of my family’s private trauma. At the time of the request for the manuscript, ironically, I was going through my own traumatic divorce. I didn’t experience the public persecution of my parents but went through my own horror of a child custody battle and stalking.
Thus, you can imagine my surprise when I started reviewing the manuscript to find this male lead who wore a cowboy hat and was more life smart than school smart pop off of the page. The more I read, the more surprised I became.
I took the manuscript to my boyfriend’s (at the time) house that night and read descriptions out loud to him. “Listen to this description,” I would say, then read a part. Then I would flip through the pages, “Listen to what this male lead says.”
The clincher came when I read the part of my male lead, opening a bag of potato chips with scissors. I flopped down the manuscript, “Who does that?” I asked.
My boyfriend gulped. “I have to admit that man sounds awfully like me.”
I have never met a person who opened potato chips with scissors that I knew about before dating him. Where did that idea come from to write about a man who did that? I don’t know.
But to have a man who makes fun of my dyslexic twists of words, who is a total manly man, whose soul is fed and resolves around nature, and is famous for his cowboy hat—that is some might fine consequences.
What to do with that?
Well, I married the man I had manifest through my novel writing. Also, from now on, I have a strict rule of only writing about wealthy men since writing can manifest the future. Who knows what will happen in my future fifteen years from now, but having a man with money could only be a bonus.
Don’t miss Lisa’s classes at SavvyAuthors
- Just Finish the Damn Book with Lisa J. MacDonald – August 3rd – August 30th
- Advance Point of View: Writing Techniques the Masters Use with Lisa J. Peck-MacDonald – September 14th – October 11th
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Is love worth hot air balloon crashes, vortexes, spiritual energy healers and the ever present cameras for the most popular TV show?