Friday, 27 April 2012

Pieces of the Puzzle

The themes present in One Way to Grace are by no means unique to David and those involved in his life's journey. Love, betrayal, addiction, recovery...these are all a part of our personal puzzles. The fact that David and I have come together to arrange those experiences into a work of memoir does not mean his story is anymore incredible than yours, mine, or the strangers we walk by on the street everyday.

What sets this story apart is the passion David has for sharing his testimony, the drive I feel to share the beautiful triumph of his life- the knowledge that together he and I have the power to touch even one person's life. If nothing else, David's exuberant and upbeat Belief is enough to inspire hope and optimism.

In the following excerpt from One Way to Grace, a very personal moment in David's life clearly demonstrates a very common theme I'm sure every young parent can relate to:

Our son was born a few short months later in September. I named him Gary, after my dearest childhood friend. He was so small, so fragile. I felt just as fragile as I held him for the first time. The love I immediately felt for this miniature version of Cathy and I overwhelmed my heart. Romantic love is emboldening; a strengthening invincible feeling. The love one feels for a child, though, is much different. To know that this unmarred, unhurt, untouched soul is in your charge is all at once surreal, exhilarating and terrifying. I could barely care for myself, how could God expect me to take on the wellbeing of a wife and newborn son? Yet, there he was. Gary Daly, my son, swaddled in a blanket and sleeping soundly in my arms. Part of me will always see him that way, as the best of me wrapped in plush poly-cotton blend.
-Chapter Four, One Way to Grace

Yes, David has experienced things that many of us can never truly imagine. Life in Northern Ireland during the late 1960's and early 1970's was uncertain and scary a lot of the time. I, for one, have never sat next to a crate of homemade petrol bombs while the elder males in my family guarded the street on which we lived.

David has.

Yet, if you ask him about his childhood, the first things he will tell you about are the more personal struggles he faced. Insecurity, shyness, a quest for his identity. Also, the love he felt from his family. The togetherness of his community. The Troubles of Northern Ireland were little more than the historic backdrop of his life, a piece of the puzzle. They do not define him, and that is admirable.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Combining Traditional Testimony with Memoir

A traditional Christian testimony is a personal story of how someone found Christ and surrendered to faith.
Memoir is a literary account of a person's life told through anecdotes and memory.

Combining these two mediums is a delicate process. The core of One Way to Grace has to remain testimonial. David's mission is to share with the world, believers and nonbelievers alike, how Jesus Christ saved his life. Memoir is a beautiful vehicle for a traditional testimony when the two are in balance.
The use of Scripture has been a great tool. By incorporating the Bible into the memoir format, we can remind the readers (and ourselves) the true intention of the work. The Scripture excerpts also aid the memoir aspect, by setting a tone for each chapter.
For example, in Chapter Five of One Way to Grace, David and his new wife are dealing with the turmoil of adjusting to married life and parenthood at an extraordinarily young age. The Scripture we associated with this time in David's life is:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
-Ephesians 5:22-25 KJV

 What I felt from this Passage reinforced the sense of fitting into the roles of marriage, underlying love, and intimate partnership that were at the core of David's marriage. It is also a way of showing how every life connects with the lessons and messages found in the Bible. At this point in his journey, David had not been Saved and yet, Ephesians 5:22-25 directly correlates to what was happening to him, his wife, and his life.

God and Christ were all around David every moment, even if he was blind to the signs and influence. If nothing else, this message will make us all feel less alone.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

How Google Maps Set the Scene

I've never been to the UK.
While I have a vivid imagination, it takes more than strong descriptive language to accurately capture the streets of Belfast, the rural roads of Downpatrick, and the unique paint color of a corner pub. A trip across the pond to the many locations David experienced, lived, and worked was pretty much out of the question and I needed a way to actually see the world I was attempting to write about.

Then, I remembered finding my old apartment complex on Google Maps and zooming to street view as a way to kill time back when I was a call center worker. (Sorry, old bosses!) During a productive meeting with David in which I was collecting sensory memories for the opening chapter, I decided to type "Mt. Crescent, Downpatrick, UK" into a Google Maps search. One click later, I was taking a tour of one of the most important backdrops of One Way to Grace.

Thanks to the Google Maps technology, I've been able to explore the streets David walked as a child, "stand" in front of the pub where he met the mother of his son, witness the landmarks in Israel that changed David's life forever, and take a tour of the English city he calls home today.
Here is an example of the prose assisted by Google Maps Street Views:

"Red brick buildings were adorned with full color murals declaring neighborhood allegiances. Haunting images of fallen heroes, hated figure heads or gun wielding gang members let those passing through know whether the inhabitants were loyal to the Union Jack or the Green White and Gold, to the Catholic or Protestant interests." 
 -Chapter One, One Way to Grace

Those murals are still there. Archive photos of Belfast in the 1960's and 70's paint a vivid picture of the city and how the visual representations of the civil and religious unrest affected its residents. Yet, looking at street view images of the actual murals that, though faded, still tell those stories really drives home how intense growing in that time, in that place was for David and everyone else really was.

"My mother and stepfather Larry took over The Railway public house on Wells Road, right down the road from where Davina and I had shared a home. The yellowish building hugged the corner of Wells Road in Radstock where I had considered ending my life in a car crash. The Railway itself had been the scene of many drunken nights."
 -Chapter 10, One Way to Grace

It wasn't until David and I opened the street view of The Railway during a meeting that it really sunk in how close the pub was to so many important places in his life. This small bit of technology has entirely transformed the way I interact with my writing.

So, thanks Google, for allowing me to describe places I've never been.

Monday, 9 April 2012

How the Title Was Chosen

"One Way To Grace"

If your wondering how the name of this testimonial memoir came about?

For a few years I've had placed upon my heart 'One Way' (out of this world,one way up etc), as a title, accompanied with the words of Jesus below:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:6

So "The Way" (one way), this is where this title partially came from. I couldnt think of anything else!
I emphasized this to Dawn only in my heart I knew God would provide a fitting title.

But my God shall supply all your need according
to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

To my Amazement 'All Glory To God', he used Dawn to get the next two words of the title 'To Grace,'

My Mother(in memory of her) passed over nearly 3 years ago this year her name is 'Grace' (Wow!)

Also approximately 9 near death experiences in my life. By God's Grace, I am alive today.
This is how good God is through using people as instruments in others lives to fulfil his plan and purpose- Born Again or Not!

Dawn and I are so very grateful to be here today to tell this  Powerful Testimony of 'God's Grace' to all who are willing to recieve his Love through his Son Jesus.

God Bless you all!


Saturday, 7 April 2012

Trust Me: Building Trust Across an Ocean

Click for Larger Image
As the writer portion of the One Way to Grace partnership, trust plays a huge role in my ability to complete my work.

Why Trust Was a Must

The first half of One Way to Grace deals with David's childhood and the details of his alcoholism. It is not always easy to rehash the most painful and embarrassing moments in your life with someone you've never seen in person. Actually, it's never all that easy. The only way to make it work, and end up with a fully genuine final product, is to cultivate a deep sense of trust.

Earning Trust

Prior to conducting any official interviews, David and I simply had conversations. I got to know the man who lived the life I was so passionate about writing. We are all more than the content of our personal timeline. David's personality, his soul, shape the way he perceives the things he has experienced. The trust that comes from open and honest conversations sheds light on who David truly is, what his inner voice sounds like.

Maintaining Trust

Once a strong bond of trust existed between David and me, it was important to maintain that valuable trust throughout the writing process. Especially now, as we begin the business portion of bringing a memoir to the reading world, we need to rely on each other's honesty.

"Trust me, I know what I'm doing," needs to go without saying sometimes, and that's what a balance of business and personal trust can allow.

Utilizing Trust

The trust between David and I strengthens the friendship behind the One Way to Grace partnership. It is also an important tool I utilize in my writing. When our chapter meetings are over and I go off on my own to turn my interview notes into readable work, I rely on David's trust in me to make vital artistic choices. If I felt as though David did not trust me to create a true interpretation of his innermost memories, emotions and demons, I would be unable to make the big leaps of Faith that go into some of the best prose.

My implicit trust in David as a business partner makes me comfortable sharing my ideas freely. I know he'll tell me exactly what he thinks, correct me when I'm wrong, and support me when I'm right. For example, when David said something about our most recently completed chapter didn't feel right. I trusted his perception and spent hours re-reading the piece. Eventually, I realized there was a pacing issue that was easy to fix but hard to spot.

Trust is essential. When you all finally get a chance to read David's story, I hope that trust is evident. Correction, I know it will be. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Finding Scripture Through Prayer

What a privilege it is to work with Dawn on each Chapter of this memoir. The headed Scripture for each Chapter has been for me challenging, so Prayer is so important, and too see how God actually is guiding both Dawn and myself to finding these Scriptures is amazing!

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto
Philippians 4:6 (KJV)

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye
shall receive.
Matthew 21:22 (KJV)

I thank God that we all have access to his word and instruction for life itself.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
1 Corinthians 13:9 (KJV)

We all learn from each other and are learning to our last breath!
No human has all the answers only Our Father in Heaven!

Godbless all readers


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Discovering Scripture

Before we begin the interview process for a new chapter, David and I spend time discussing a piece of Scripture that sets the tone and alludes to the lessons in the life events we're going to be focusing on. It has been very educational for me, as someone who doesn't have a lot of experience with the Bible or Christianity.

This allows me to see these Passages through David's pious eyes. If I simply sat back and allowed David to assign the Scripture with no discussion, I do not think I could ever fully grasp his voice in the writing. By clearly identifying our intention with the chapter and then spending time dissecting applicable Bible passages, I get a deeper understanding of the parables inherent to Christian life. I may not belong to this religion, but I can definitely benefit from these lessons.

Forgiveness, accountability, optimism, strength. 
These are the attributes the Bible encourages.
Sure, there are controversial elements that some disagree with. Most of these are secondary, however, and relate more to the time in which God's words were recorded than the core of the religion.

A ten minute conversation with someone as fired up about his faith as David is will make it clear that true Belief is a joyous, peaceful thing- not hateful or judgmental.

Matthew 11:28-30 KJV illustrates this wonderfully:

28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

I'm grateful to have learned that.