“I grew up in a soup bowl.” No, I did not originally begin my story with those words, but that image came to me when I later thought about the twenty-one people who surrounded me in a three bedroom house. When I wrote The Price of Pearls, I knew I wanted to let my readers know that my life had some pretty colorful people in them. My mother was a master at making turkey and beef soup. I remember watching her as she put in various ingredients, starting with onions and celery, tomato paste, whole tomatoes, and gradually added other items over several hours, tasting the delicious brew until she finally announced,”Soup’s ready!” Looking into that pot was like looking at the numerous faces in “the Big House,” my family home back in rural Anne Arundel County, Maryland.
I wanted to talk about my grandmother and grandfather, two people whose faces most reminded me about the blessings of growing up in an extended family. I wanted to talk about my mom, who embodied strength and dignity, and my dad, who taught me that a hardy laugh was the remedy to taking life too seriously. Then there were my brothers, who provided were the original “Comedy Central,” and my sisters, who to this day are the most caring and giving individuals on this earth.
My story would not be complete unless I began unfolding some of the people whose struggles impacted my life very early on. Thus, I knew I had to include three uncles, one rather humorous, one tragic, and another pretty complex. I had enough substance to begin my story.
What to include in your opening chapter is your decision. You don’t have to follow my pattern at all. In fact, you don’t have to begin with your early years. Some people focus their book on one central event in time and focus their entire book on circumstances surrounding that event. One writer I know wanted to tell the story of her emotional journey surrounding the loss of a pregnancy. The entire book goes from the joys of discovering the pregnancy and concludes with the loss and subsequent healing experience. I believe God will show you what He wants you to write. In fact, He’s probably already given you direction. Now it’s time to get started.
I would love to hear from you as you begin your story. Tell me how you’re starting. What’s your focus? Why are you writing? Who do you hope to help with your story? You have something important to say and I’m excited that you’ve answered the call and stepped out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to be a professional writer. You don’t have to have a college degree. God’s in it and He gives the ability. All you have to do is say YES! He believes in you! Catch up with you next time.
Philippians 4:13 declares, “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.” Go for it!