May 2, 2014


By Joy DeKok

I was stuck.  I wrote it off as writer's block, a bad case of procrastination, and maybe even burnout. 

The words beckoned, and I resisted them, but they would not let me go.
Instead of being grateful for them, I resented them, and wished they'd just go away. Not forever, but for a while. They did not.

I was reminded daily in casual conversations, by women in a similar situation as the main character, and in my dreams, about the novel I'd started and stopped years ago. The story I could not mold to fit the market I usually write for, although I tried.

Every time I let my guard down the story did its best to pull me in, and I did my best to push it away.
My "reasons" were reasonable. I work part- time for my husband. I have a small social media management business, and I help my dad with my mom. I also have a house to clean, family to love, friends to enjoy, and dogs to walk. Surely, it was a time thing. Or a tired thing. I'm older now, menopausal, and a little on the down side. Didn't I deserve a break?

The story said, "No."

I said, "For crying out loud!"

About that time, it dawned on me; I was arguing with my imagination against my talent, and the story I knew I'd been given to write. A story that scared me was more than likely at least two books.

I wasn't just afraid; I was frozen.

Everything about the project was bigger than me – bigger than my experience. Murder, rape, and a romance gone bad are not the norms in my life. What do I have in common with a kept woman, suspected in three murders, and who just might have to go back to go forward?  How on earth could I write what I don't know? Yes, I wrote about things I had never lived in my first novel, Rain Dance, but that was different.

Or was it? It turns out, not so much.

Sometimes writing what we don't know is a matter of looking beyond the story itself and into the hearts of the characters that are often a creative blend of real-live people. Those we know well, those we don't know very well, and those we don't know at all. We observe, remember, and imagine. Then we add a dash of pretend in the right spots, and dare to believe in that thing we call talent. Yours. Mine. Ours.

So how did I thaw out? I surrendered to the story, welcomed the words, listened to the characters, believed in my talent, and trusted that even though some of what I wrote would be bad, it could also be fixed.

It didn't happen overnight. The melting was gentle and steady, and even though the story stretched me at every point, it was kind. Now and then, I experience a little shiver of fear, but the words are now on the pages and like the southern breezes of spring, they keep my writing winter at bay.

Joy DeKok started writing as a little girl. She carries a large purse so she can take her journal and an assortment of pens with her in case a moment to jot comes along. Joy and her husband live on thirty-five acres of woods and field in Minnesota between Rochester and Pine Island. She’s been married to Jon for thirty-plus years. Joy enjoys time with her family, holding hands with her husband, lunch with friends, hot coffee, reading, bird watching, personal Bible study, and amateur photography. She has nine books in print and including her first general audience (suspense) novel (the first in The Northern Lights Series) featuring main character, Olivia Morgan. Faith is a vital part of Joy’s life. When she was sixteen, Joy asked God to find her and He did. Although most of her books fit the Christian market, Between the Lies, is where Joy proves she is a Christian who writes rather than a Christian writer. Connect with Joy at

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