One of the things that has plagued me about "The Golden Gryphon" is whether it is even worth taking the time to write. Not because I don't think it's a good story, but because I doubt the value of writing it at this particular time in my life. Of course, as any author knows, an idea left to stagnate is usually as good as dead, so if I don't write it now it will probably never be written.
But is it really worth all the stress it is causing me, as I struggle to keep on top of my chores at home, my schoolwork and making my husband and son feel valued despite my constant preoccupation? What eternal good is being gained from it? Why not wait until later, when my child is grown and my husband is retired and things are less hectic?
My new online friend, writer Michelle Gregory, sent me some very encouraging words on this topic. She described a conversation with her husband about her book, Eldala, also a medieval fantasy.
Is this important? This was the question my husband had to answer more times than I can remember.
"Yes, it is important."
"Why?" I would ask.
"Because it's your heart."
Which refers back to question one. It's just a fantasy story I made up.
"Yes, but it's in your heart to write it, and if you don't write it, you'll have to shut down your heart."
I found another quote, also referenced on Michelle's blog, by James A. Garfield:
"Tell me…do you not feel a spirit stirring within you that longs to ...hold before you some high and noble object to which the vigor of your mind... may be given? Do you not have longings like these, which you breathe to no one, and which you feel must be heeded, or you will pass through life unsatisfied and regretful?... They will forever cling round your heart till you obey their mandate. They are the voices of that nature which God has given you, and which, when obeyed, will bless you and your fellow men."
~ James A. Garfield, in a letter to a friend
I knew I liked him. I've visited his home in Mentor, Ohio several times and was particularly impressed by the library. Now I know why.
This morning, I opened my Bible for a brief look while the house was quiet. I have been finding things there that strangely support this unusual and possibly ridiculous task I have undertaken - to write a novel about a conflict between a great and good King, and a great and evil one, in which supernatural beings play parts on both sides. The beings on the side of good are the angelic and powerful gryphons who assist the heroine, Elinor, and her friends on their journey. The beings on the side of evil include great black lions - huge black panthers or mountain lions - called Nightstalkers by the peasants because of their tendency to attack at night. One of the themes of the book is the treachery of appearances and the need to judge the heart, as well as the power of steadfast faith and perseverance.
Anyway, I opened my Bible and the page that I saw was Psalm 91:
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day...
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked...
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Am I claiming that God told me to write this particular book? No. But it was a good reminder of the universality of certain themes and symbols. Storytelling is one of the best - and oldest - ways to teach and to understand the world. Even Jesus taught using stories to illustrate spiritual truths. In modern times, fictional stories both explain and in some ways define a particular culture at a particular point in time. Just think of the impact of Harry Potter, for one. I can only hope that in some way "The Golden Gryphon" will add just a little to that definition.