December 26, 2014

Writing Under Extraordinary Circumstances

By Dr. Trisha Petty

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I find that those who use the excuse of ‘writers block’ are looking for an excuse not to write. Just because you can’t work on your novel doesn’t mean you can’t write about something.

Case in point: my husband, Charlie, had 6 to 18 months to live. Since March 4th I haven’t put one word, comma- or much thought toward my novel. My editor and publisher have been wonderful not to push. However, I still find things for me to work on. For instance, newspapers newsletters. . . I get them done, but everyone knows that they are flat. No color. No humor. Yet, my obligations are met.

There is one place I do write with flourish, abandonment, passion and continually- that’s my journal.

I’ve been keeping a journal since I was 15 years old. I take at least 15 minutes and jot down my thoughts. Sometimes I journal in the morning, sometimes just before dinner.  For me it’s the exercise of sitting down and putting words on paper. On those pages I wrote about my mom, my brother, my cat, my fish. I wrote about school, friends and boys. I wrote about becoming a Christian, wrote my devotions down, and my prayers. I listed questions to ask my teachers and college professors. I wrote down lists of things to pack, when I moved to college dorms. I wrote about budgets, worked out anger issues with dorm mates and dorm heads. I wrote about my first date with a boy and the subsequent broken heart. I wrote about getting engaged, planned my wedding and wrote about my pregnancy all within the pages of my journals.  I wrote about my divorce, meeting Charlie, the plans we made for our wedding ceremony, buying our house, and moving from Florida to Tennessee. And yes, I wrote about the anger, blessings, and trepidations of my future without Charlie. I write all the questions to ask Hospice, doctors, friends and others who have walked this path.

My journals show me how, while I was in the midst of all that teenaged angst, the anger, pain, sorrow, and yes, my uncertainty- the words on the pages remind me that - God was with me. The journals remind me of the joys, triumphs, happy moments, peaceful moments, that God was with me.

My journals remind me how I planned, prepared and moved forward. It also reflects on how God guided, blessed, shifted me onto different paths I wasn’t planning on. My journals prove my faith, test my faith, encourage my faith and enlarge my faith.

Reading old journals remind me why I watch reruns on TV. It’s comfortable, I know how it ends, I can laugh at myself and be amazed once again at God’s wondrous works. I don’t have the pressure of making the words perfect. I don’t have two worry about grammar and punctuation in my journal. I just write. And isn’t that what a writer should do?
Trisha Petty Th.D. co-authored 13 novels with Linda Crockett, among these were Siren, To Touch a Dream and Tangerine, published by Tor Press and Harlequin Romances (Simon and Schuster). For 35 years Trisha was also a much sought after Production Assistant, then Personal Assistant to actors, directors and producers. Working with some of Hollywood’s most creative people, Trisha contributed story boards and character development to projects such as “Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn,” “North and South,” and “Paint Your Wagon.”  Recently retiring to Tennessee, Trisha uses her experience, education, and the Civil War history steeped in her newly adopted home and began writing historical novels with Christian perspective.  Trisha Petty currently lives in Columbia, Tennessee and is the founder of Cellophane Ministries, and Antebellum Productions.    

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