Monday, July 23, 2012

Writing "Our Southern Breeze"...An Amazing Journey of Faith

Writing my story, Our Southern Breeze, was an adventure from day one. After I was asked to do it because so many people want to know more about my twin sister, Debra Hall, I gathered up the journals, notes, photos, and memorabilia that I had saved and I began. I spent a year reworking what I had and ended up creating a 227-page journal. I next put together a 25-page (single-spaced) timeline of my life, and emailed it off to a woman I had never met face-to-face. It should have been a scary moment for me . . . but it wasn’t.
Andrea Taylor, who lives in Frisco, Texas, and I, who live in Atlanta, Georgia, had been talking and emailing for several weeks, and I just knew in my heart that she was the one who could actually get this done for me. Although a published author and the owner of a custom publishing company, Andrea had never ghostwritten for anyone. She was a little nervous about committing to do it because of that, and I was a little nervous about committing to pay her for doing it because I didn’t actually have the money to do it. So we both took steps of faith and began a most fascinating journey together to bring my story to readers everywhere.

Andrea’s task was to take my journal, which was a rich source of material for the project, the timeline, my brother-in-law’s original manuscript called Denver Bound, and his New York Times bestseller called Same Kind of Different As Me (Ron Hall with Lynn Vincent, 2006), and craft a story that would capture the hearts of the readers as they experienced my life right along with me.
We agreed to write my story as creative non-fiction, using all the elements of novel writing such as setting, characters, dialogue, and story line. She set different tones depending on what was happening in my life, and she tried to capture my voice in both dialogue with other characters and in my thought life. 

After she wrote each new chapter and emailed it off to me, we got on the phone and talked through the details, discussing additional memories I had. Then she would go back to that chapter, sit down at her computer, and pour out my heart through her words. She placed herself in my shoes as best she could and felt my pain enough to get it out onto the paper, crying and laughing and praying her way through the manuscript.
Andrea reminded me many times throughout this year-long process that our goal was never perfection. Our goal was excellence for His glory. When we found errors, we corrected them. She took artistic license and purposefully broke some of the rules of writing in order to bring authenticity to my story and better connect with the reader’s hearts.

If Our Southern Breeze brings hope and healing to God’s people, either through the written word or through my speaking opportunities, then Andrea and I have done a Good thing. We both pray that it is so.

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