Line upon Line

Since the birth of our son about five months ago (five months already!! Why does time have to go so fast?), I’ve had very little time to write. It isn’t just that having a baby again—after so long— has thrown me for a loop. Though yes, it certainly has. Rather, it’s the combination of all my children and their various ages and needs, which it seems I can never quite meet. The result has been that my new writing pattern is to start at about 9:30 in the evening and write until 11:00. It isn’t much time each day, but I can’t seem to get started earlier and I can’t seem to stay up later, as I’m still getting up with our baby a time or two in the middle of the night.

During these short sessions the most I’m able to get on paper is about 5 pages worth of story. If you do the math, at this rate it’ll take me about 100 days to complete my usual 500 page length manuscript. Factor in editing with my critique group, and I’ll be working at least a month beyond that. But that’s not too bad, so long as those five pages I draft each night keep taking the story where it needs to go. And, for the most part, they do. I have to admit that it’s still always a little bit thrilling to open up that document the next night and reread the pages I wrote the previous night—and find that they make sense! They entertain me. The characters are talking to each other like real people; the story is speaking to me. What a blessing this continues to be in my life. There are plenty of talents I lack, but my imagination is still alive and functioning. And for that I am grateful.

During the crafting of each story I write, there are always a few sentences I come to love. Maybe it’s that they made me laugh as I wrote them, or they tugged at my heartstrings the way I hope they tug at readers. Or maybe it’s that I had to beg my editor to keep them—as is the case with one of my very favorite sentences in All the Stars in Heaven. Why, some may wonder, would I beg to keep a sentence? After all, it’s just one line out of the thousands in each book. Because each is important, as they are the details that make the story and characters ring true and form the tempo of my writer’s voice. That voice is a little different in All the Stars in Heaven than it was in Counting Stars but I hope readers enjoy it as well. Here’s a sampling of some of my favorite lines from the story.

Her father had said they were always watching, and she wasn’t taking any chances.

“Hey, whatcha doing? That’s my moose.”

“I’m a beached boy. You know, like the band, except old and all washed up.”

“You’re just that kind of guy–the kind that does things like clean out the fridge, help friends with their homework, and babysit.”

This was new and dangerous and . . . she could hardly bear to think of giving it up.

I do what I have to to keep her alive, and you’d better remember it keeps you alive too.”

“Get your shirt on Jay, This is a G-rated house.”

“I’m going to have nightmares down here. The Jolly Green Giant attacking on one side, and Charlie the Tuna on the other.”

Let-me-run-my-fingers-through-those-curls-and-taste-that-flavor-on-your-lips—yeah, that’s it.

There had been times of discouragement certainly, but a glimpse of the night sky sprinkled with stars or of the full moon was all it took to remind her to stay on course. After all, if man could walk on the moon, so far away, she could someday walk away from the life she hated.