During my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November of 2009, I wrote a mostly autobiographical novel called Avocado Highway. At the end of the book, I got an inspired idea to stage the main character’s wedding on a labyrinth under walnut trees at the monastery. I didn’t even know there WAS a labyrinth at my fictional monastery, but now I did. In 2009, I was not practicing centering prayer yet, was not journaling consistently, and certainly didn’t know about hearing God’s voice through two-way journaling. Still, I had a solid sense that the idea was from the Holy Spirit. The smooth flow of the writing of that scene confirmed it.
Looking over that novel draft, I decided it was not worth revising, and I set it aside. Nine years later, Matt Tommey asked during the Created to Thrive experience course, “What is already in your hand?” And a clear answer lit up in my mind: “That chapter on the labyrinth wedding.” I was being urged to resurrect that scene somehow. I considered writing a whole new novel around it, but that idea left me cold. I placed the scene on the back burner and went on to other projects.
Then, I felt called to sign up for a Colorado writing retreat offered by Shelley Hitz in September of 2018. For three days I would write with five other Christian women, in view of the Rocky Mountains. Shelley Hitz mentors writers of all stripes, but advertised this retreat as a chance to get a non-fiction book done. I thought, “I don’t have a non-fiction book in mind,” then the idea struck: Write the labyrinth book as a non-fiction how-to book. Brilliant!
I started off with the idea that brides will buy anything if it has the word “wedding” on it. I dreamed of capitalizing on the prodigal way women throw money away when planning for their big day. I wrote for two hours in a breathless, retail tone, then I hit the wall. I could not write any more. I confessed this to my fellow writers, and Shelley said, “Try journaling about it.”
Too tired to journal, I went to bed discouraged and fraught. An altitude headache woke me at 4am, and I journaled by flashlight, hoping not to wake my roommate, Teresa. God encouraged me to change my tone and not give up. He asked me if I had felt a twinge of guilt about playing the commercial game with my book. I answered yes. I realized that I didn’t want to feed into the wedding industry. I had seen the effect of their marketing on my own daughter and on myself in the build-up to her wedding the past March. I wanted my message to be about giving marriage a chance by planning a more spiritual, realistic, humble, God-centered ceremony using the labyrinth as an aid.
The next day, with my heart back in it and God’s blessing, I knocked out the draft of the book titled A Spiritual Guide to the Labyrinth Wedding. It is still in process, but will be available on Amazon soon.
Links to my mentors: