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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Things Take Time

                               By Gail Kittleson

Some people seem to read their destiny from childhood—others receive glimpses, but their vocation evolves and blossoms over decades. The latter rings true for me. From adolescence, I loved reading all kinds of novels, history, and poetry. I wrote some—mostly poems, and knew writing was more than casual for me, yet that understanding remained nebulous until my fifties.

In the meantime, I plunged into life as a pastor’s/Army chaplain’s spouse, parenthood, created a sympathy card line for the bereaved and caregivers, taught college expository writing and ESL, and became a grandparent.

A nomination to a state writing retreat led me to memoir. Oh my . . . and that led to delving deeper into essays, which led to writing women’s historical fiction.

Writing and writing and writing . . . oh my!

I’ve probably never felt so much in my God-intended niche before. Connecting with individuals in workshops I facilitate gives me such a high. But writing, day in and day out, sustains me and allows a channel for my gift of story to flow. I’m so grateful my true vocation has found me, even though it took some time.

Characterization Takes Time

Right now, a heroine holds me enchanted. She’s with me all the time—every day I learn something new about her. This World War II character fascinates me, because in several ways, she’s not like me. Her predecessor, Addie, hung out with me four and a half years, and I thought I’d never be closer to a character.

But then, along came Twila Fae Brunner. She reveals the spunk I squelched in early adulthood, and pursues her dream even before she knows its specifics. How I wish I’d been more like her, unafraid of life and willing to take risks! No hiding her light under a bushel for Twila!

Anyway, it’s such a delight to consider what makes this young woman tick, especially in light of the chaos the war forced upon her generation. But they made do, and Twila’s way of making do includes working at a POW camp about an hour and a half from our home in Iowa. Doing research has led me to such interesting connections, which led to doing a workshop in that town—Algona, Iowa—in September.

“You can’t hurry love...” The Supremes had it right back in 1966, but I’ve imposed a deadline on Twila Fae. She must divulge all her secrets by September first, plus whisper a title for her story.

And then I need to get going on the edits for another sequel that’ll take me back into Addie’s life. This book, A Purpose True, releases in February 2017 (when I’ll be in Arizona).

Listening and listening and listening . . . oh my!

Gail Kittleson