January 12, 2012

The tale of a tale - Violet Nesdoly

2012 will see me doing one of the most challenging and exciting things I've done since setting out on my writing journey. You see, in November of 2011 I signed a contract with Word Alive Press to publish a novel. And so this year I'll be entering the self-published writer's strategizing-networking-publicizing-marketing fray—a place I promised myself I'd never be in.

That my first book (not counting poetry) would be fiction is another surprise. I have never thought of myself as a fiction writer. I don't daydream in stories. I never invented imaginary friends. I didn't entertain my school buddies with stories of Jim and Ann, like my best friend did, or invent imaginary animal tales to tell my kids.

And yet over the years certain characters have come to life for me. It seems to happen most often with historical figures. When I researched the life of John Bunyan, for example, I was charmed by his shy but plucky wife Elizabeth. Similarly I have written short stories about biblical characters like the little girl who was Naaman's maid, Rahab, Achan, and the shepherds that visited baby Jesus.

Another Bible character who has fascinated me for years is Bezalel, that craftsman of whom Moses said, "See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel ... and He has filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom and understanding in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze..." (Exodus 35:30-34).  Bezalel ended up being in charge of constructing the tabernacle and its furniture.

Who was this young man whom God filled with His Spirit for the arts, I wondered? What was his youth like? Did he train under Pharaoh's craftsmen? Did he have any sense that he was special? I'd like to write about him and find out, I often thought, as his back-story began to form in my imagination. Only, I knew that his tale would be more than a few thousand words.

Over the years when I would come to the end of a project and pray, God, what next? I would often think about that story. I knew I wanted to write it, should write it. Yet the project seemed too big, the research too overwhelming. And so I kept shoving it aside. Until November of 2009.

That year, I decided to take the plunge and make the writing of Bezalel's story my NaNoWriMo project. With the help of  Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method, I did some pre-planning. Once the month began the writing flowed and I reached the end of my narrative (and passed my 50,000-word goal) several days before the end of November.

Then—nothing. The manuscript mouldered in my files for the next year or so, even though my prayers for other writing assignments repeatedly brought me face to face with this one, still unfinished. Early last year I finally realized I would have no peace until I completed it.

The Word Alive Publishing Contest deadline of June 30, 2011 gave me a concrete date to work toward. And so most weekdays of March to May last year I set my timer for 99 minutes, 59 seconds (the max it would register) and worked at the sucker.

I declared it finished two weeks before the contest deadline and on June 15th gleefully drove my stack of papers to the neighborhood UPS depot (we were in the middle of a mail strike right then), and sent my baby into the world.

No one was more surprised than I to find, in late September, that Destiny's Hands had made the list of contest finalists. Thanks to the support and encouragement of the people at Word Alive Press I am now in the process of tweaking it one more time before sending it off to them for more editing and all the other things they will do to make it into a book.

If there is anything about this lengthy process that gives me courage for the daunting job ahead, it is the sense that God has been with me this whole time, helping me put this story together, keeping me interested, bugging me to finish it. I just hope my efforts won't have let Him down.

© 2011 by Violet Nesdoly


  1. Oh, Violet, I hardly know what to say without gushing! I am so happy and proud to read this and pray your story will grow up and bless the world with it's life and truth! I know it is a masterpiece. I am blessed every morning by your devotionals that enrich every single day. Put me down for a signed copy of your new book!

  2. God takes us on paths we never thought possible and produces fruit that we had no idea would ever be there. How delightful that you are willing to go where He leads - and I look forward to the fruit!

  3. I'm looking forward to reading about this interesting character!

    Pam Mytroen

  4. So glad you've entered the "fray" Vi - I'm glad to be in your company! :)
    Your last comment made me think of something Sigmund Brouwer said at one of our ICWF conferences. He used the illustration of his daughter waiting at the door to show him her artwork when he came home. He likened her to we writers who timidly and with trepidation hold out our work to the Lord. "Would I ever say, "back to the drawing board, kid, it's just not good enough!" ? Sigmund asked. Neither will our father in heaven disparage our efforts if they are made with a clean heart and honest motives. Amen, I say, Amen.

  5. Thank you so much, Fudge, Marcia, LC and Charlie!

    I actually wrote this post before I heard back from a friend who I asked to evaluate the story in the big-picture way. She gave me some excellent feedback. So the tweak has turned into a TWEAK. But am I ever glad I got her input before sending the story out into the world. (And to help with the TWEAK, I bought James Scott Bell's new book on conflict and suspense. I'm learning so much... This is very much still a work-in-progress.)

  6. Marcia, thanks for sharing what Sigmund Brouwer said. What encouraging thoughts.

  7. Sometimes the projects God nudges us into where we wouldn't go on our own are the biggest blessings. Enjoy the journey, and I look forward to reading Bezalel's story.


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