Here she is, chapter 4. Happy Advent.
Brandy the wonder dog is proud to present Chapter 3 of Forgive Me Father. She was up most of the night editing to make sure this got released on time. Thanks Brandy for assist.
Despite my printer trying to eat my edits, here is chapter 2. Enjoy.
My car has developed a personality as of late, despite the fact that popular science has shown that inanimate objects are incapable of developing personalities, my car has developed one. I blame it one the fact that it’s been hanging around with a bunch of other cars in local parking lots after dark. Nothing good ever comes of hanging out in parking lots after dark.
It used to be such a sweet car. It always listened to what I told it to do. It accelerated when I hit the gas and slowed down when I hit the brakes. When I was cold, it provided heat, when I was hot it filled the passenger compartment with icy cold air. Even when I left it alone in parking lots and locked it to keep it safe, I was greeted with friendly honk of the horn. It was as it the car was saying “So long Danny, see you in a bit. I’m just going to rest here for a while.”
Oh I’m still greeted with a honk of the horn when I lock it, but the horn has changed tones. It sounds more defiant. Now, instead of the “So long Danny” sound, I hear a “get out of here, leave me alone to hang out with my friends” attitude filled beep. This has been going on for weeks now and I’m not sure I like the change in my car’s tone.
There is another part of my cars attitude shift that has developed, the car has randomly started flashing the brake lights and emitting a warning tone so loud it would end up on the decibel scale somewhere between a running washing machine running filled with rocks and a jet air plane taking off. The first time this light and sound show happened I nearly spit coffee all over the windshield. I was driving down a dark country road early one morning and to see a flashing brake light and a jet engine toned beeping that early was a little concerning. I gently applied the brakes to ensure they were working and then the light went off.
False alarm I thought to myself, no need to panic just keep driving. Then 10 minutes later another beep loud enough to wake the dead and the flashing brake light. The brakes were once again verified and as I applied them I swore I heard the engine laugh a bit. Was my car simply playing around with me?
Well this has now been happening for weeks now and each time it happens my blood pressure rises and I get madder and madder at this phantom problem. In other words, my car is winning. If it’s goal is to annoy me, it is doing a fantastic job of it.
I’ve been complaining of this to my wife pretty incessantly since it started, yet she has never heard it. That is until yesterday. We were out running a few errands, when my car messed up, it forgot that I wasn’t the only one in the car when it launched into it’s screaming light show. The first beep caused my blood pressure to rise, the second nearly blew out my ear drum and the third forced me to emit a loud blast of frustration. To which my lovely bride turned to me and said “Is that the noise that’s been causing you such problems? That’s nothing.”
“Nothing,” I muttered back “Did you hear how loud that thing is and it does it all the time.”
“Simple fix,” she said. “Next time you hear it say Father Son and Holy Spirit and then offer a quick prayer for someone.”
“Wait, what?” I said in protest. “You did hear that right? That loud, annoying, random beeping. I’m not just hearing things am I?”
“Just pray the next time you hear it.”
The simplicity of her statement struck me. Take this horribly annoying thing my car was doing to drive me batty and turn it into a positive. My wife’s idea was put to the test moments later. Beep Beep Beep…prayer. Five minutes later beep…beep…beep…prayer.
For the rest of the journey I took my wife’s advice and every time that silly brake light came on, I said a simple prayer. By the end of the day’s journey I was no longer annoyed by the noise, but rather enjoyed hearing the ear piercing scream fill the car. I had become like Pavlov’s dogs only I prayed rather than salivated when I heard a beep. Take that car, bested by a human. Who says German engineering is superior to American ingenuity?
In fact I’m going to start looking for other little annoyances in my life as opportunities to pray. Stub my toe, say a prayer, dog won’t come home when called, pray. Stuck in traffic, pray. Take all those little moments in life where there exists an opportunity to move further away from God and turn it around and use them as moments to grow in your faith.
Thanks to my wife, I’m no longer angry at my car for developing a personality. Instead I’m rather thankful, although I’m still banning it from hanging out with other cars after dark. Nothing good happens in parking lots after dark after all and we’re still going to have a talk about the tone of it’s horn.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…This chapter is my single step on the journey towards a published novel. Enjoy.
I’ve driven exactly one high end sports car in my life. It was a mid 80’s Porsche something or other. It was red, it was a five speed, and it was fast. I drove it exactly 10 miles on a errand for a friend of mine and it was probably the funnest 10 miles I have ever had driving in my life. As I sped (never going above the posted speed limit) down the windy country road the car handled as if on rails. It leaned into each corner and shot itself back onto the straights as if being thrust out of a high powered cannon. Even when the car sat idle in the parking lot as my friend ran his errand I felt cool. People going about their daily business slowed down and stared at the young 20 something sitting behind the wheel of a sports car. As the people stared I simply adjusted my sunglasses and gave a nonchalant head nod back, acting as if I was in fact cool enough to occupy this car.
Writing a novel is lot like driving a Porsche. The process in and of itself is fun. It is one full of twists and turns. Your in complete control of the creative process. You are directing the characters in your story, deciding who they are, who they will become and even what they will have for breakfast. People are drawn to the writing process, just like they are drawn to sports cars sitting in parking lots. Even distant acquaintances will come over and strike up a conversation with you when they catch word you are writing a novel. There is a mystique about the process and it draws people in like a Porsche sitting in a parking lot.
If the writing is like driving a Porsche, editing, on the other hand, is like driving a mini van and I’m not talking about one of those new fangled mini vans with under seat storage and a built in movie theater. No sir, the mini van I’m referring to is rusted out wood panel mid 90’s model that is full of screaming kids and smells of stale drive through and the gas of passed burritos. People leave you alone when you’re editing, just like they leave you alone when driving a rusted out mini van. Oh sure you may get a passing glance from someone walking by, but gone are the days of conversations with strangers and nonchalant head nods from behind a pair of Ray Bans.
When you start editing you feel that the story is now driving you. You have a van full of kids each with it’s own stop to make and all along the way they are fighting each other. They cross imaginary lines in the back and make you take on a UN Peacekeepers role to restore the peace that was lost. Not unlike when one dons the editing hat and tries to separate out two subplots in a novel, subplots where at the time they were written were both fantastic ideas, but somewhere in the story they crossed paths and now they sit in direct conflict. Put on the blue helmet and grab the red pen.
Then there’s the whole who needs to go where problem. When one drives a van full of children to all of their various activities it is imperative to remember who gets out where and who gets picked up when. Don’t want to leave a wee one at dance or karate now do we. Same thing happens when editing. You now have to remember all of those characters you created, when they came into the story, their backstory and so and so forth.
In my own writing career I’ve spent more time driving the Porsche than the mini van and I hate to admit but I think I need to grab the keys to the Chrysler and hit the road. I have on my desk a completed manuscript in need of edits. It’s a mini van full of children waiting to be driven around town. There are characters who need to be dropped off at dance and then there is the main character I left in the woods, (probably should have wrapped that up a little better). So with this in mind, I’m taking the battery out of the Porsche, putting it under a cover and tucking it in the garage for a while. There is a small tear running down my cheek as I type this, I really love my metaphorical Porsche after all.
In the upcoming months I’ll be publishing the edited chapters of my second novel (working title “Forgive me Father”) on my blog. I’ll plan on publishing a chapter or two a week for my readers to enjoy. These won’t be the final edited chapters mind you, so you’ll have to forgive an errant spelling mistake or two, but the story I have written is one that desperately needs to be told so starting next week look for the first installment of Forgive Me Father.
I have decided, however, that if I’m driving a stinky mini van full of screaming metaphorical children for the near future. I’m at least buying an air freshener. Wish me luck.
Back when I was a chubby prepubescent young lad, part of my summer time chores was to mow the yard. I don’t remember exactly what age I started mowing, but for the sake of argument and to give myself someone “old man” points I’m going to say I started mowing when I was eight and I didn’t have one of those fancy riding lawnmowers either. No sir I had a clunky pull start push mower that weighed more than me and shot flames out of the exhaust (flames added for dramatic effect). Take that up hills both ways to school generation, there’s a new complainer on the block.
By the time I was 10 I was an expert yard mower I could take that mower so close to the trees in the yard that there would be no need for a weed whip. I was that good. However, in the far back corner of the yard was a small white pipe stuck out of the ground. My guess was that is was either part of the house’s sewer system or an underground missile installed by the homes previous owner. You know just in case the Russians decided to launch a nuclear missile we’d be prepared to fight back. The problem with the pipe was that is was tough to mow around, even for someone with mad crazy mowing skill like myself. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the mower close enough to cut all the grass and I always ended up having to grab the string trimer to clean up the top of the missile silo.
One sunny afternoon, as the mower moved closer and closer to the missile, I started to do some estimation in my head. It appeared to my untrained eye that the pipe had slipped in the ground and was now level with the grass. Maybe I could just mow over the top of it and instead of heading for the trimmer after I mow, I could head inside for a little saving of the princess, Mario style.
I nudged the mower deck up to the side of the pipe. Drat too tall, guess I’ll have to get the trimmer. Then the clouds parted and angelic music filled my ears as an idea worthy of a Nobel Prize flashed through my brain. Tilt the mower deck back on the rear wheel and then lower it carefully on the top of the pipe. Genius, grass will be cut and won’t have to use the weed whip. I tilted the deck back and it appeared that my idea was going to work, that is until the blade lowered enough to make contact with the pipe.
The mower slammed to a halt as a bright white chunk of PVC shot out across the yard. I pulled the dead mower off the scene of the crime, revealing a mangle piece of pipe and grass clippings. Panicked I began to run in circles flapping my arms like a bird. Round and round I went as the gravity of the situation sank in. I had cut a pipe, broken the mower, and if my suspicions were true and the pipe really was a missile silo I could have also inadvertently caused WWIII to start. My Dad’s going to be so mad at me when he gets home.
I stopped running, sweat dripping down my arms. Okay Daniel what are you going to do? I said to myself. First, see if the lawn mower is broken, (a few quick pulls on the rope and it sputtered back to life) phew one thing off the list. Second investigate the pipe. I looked at the jagged edge of the pipe. Nope no way to fix this and I assumed that in order to fix this the entire pipe would have to be dug up. I only had 37.28 in my piggy bank, I wonder how big of a hole one can get dug for that price. I peered down the pipe to see if I saw the silver tip of a missile staring back at me. No such luck, the smell of sewer gas confirmed it was in fact a sewer pipe and not a sercret missile, unless it was a really stinky missile.
I somberly finished mowing the yard and headed back towards the house to await my fate. I lay on the living room floor and watched the clock on the wall slowly tick towards my D-Day. I knew I was in trouble, question was how much. In my head I was getting ready to pack my bags and live with my friend. He did tell me I would always move into his basement if I was ever in trouble. This was one of those times.
My stomach was in knots when I heard my Dad’s station wagon pull down the driveway. My heart sunk, I wanted to run, but had used up all of my running for day running around in circles and flapping my arms. I heard the door open I could see my Dad outside the kitchen window. Here he comes, I’m in for it now. The door knob turned and in walked my Dad.
“Nice job on the yard,” he said putting his keys on the table.
“About that, something happened when I was out mowing.” I figured it best to head this off at the pass and come clean. I had spent the entire afternoon awaiting my fate and now it sat before me.
“Oh yeah?” he replied, sounding an awful lot like Kool Aid Man.
“You know the pipe in the back yard?” I grew nervous, blurting out what came next in a single breath. “I hit it with the mower and cut it. I have 37.28 I can put towards digging it up. The mower broke too, but I fixed it. At least I think it’s fixed it still cut the grass after I hit the pipe, so it’s fixed. Unless it isn’t then use my $37.28 to fix the mower.” I braced for the command to leave the house or at least a brief bit of rage from my work tired Father.
“Oh well at least the yard is mowed. I have someone swing by and put a new cap on the pipe tomorrow. Wanna go play catch?”
That’s it, my entire afternoon spent worrying about replacing a pipe, moving in with a friend, starting WWIII, and I get a good job on the yard and game of catch. I scratched my head and went to grab my glove.
Like I did that afternoon many years ago, I have spent many hours living in shame and remorse for the sins I have committed against God. I have often thought that He will disown me, that what I have done is so bad that I should pack up my bags and move on. And yet, every time when I go to confession and ask for forgiveness for what I have done, my sins are forgiven. God in His infinite mercy grants me pardon for what I have done. I do nothing to deserve this grace, it is given freely all one has to do is ask.