From the Cockpit of My Author’s Desk …

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By Davalynn Spencer @davalynnspencer

She didn’t look like a pilot.

She looked like a woman who spent a lot of time on her hair and makeup and even more time selecting her clothes.

But not only was she a pilot, she was one of several authors at a multi-author book-signing event, and she was seated across the aisle from me. Clearly, the quip about not judging a book by its cover had its place.

As we visited that day, I learned that this woman had logged many hours in the cockpit as the PIC – Pilot in Command. However, her knowledge of aerodynamics and her skill at breaking gravity’s grip often caused her great fear when she flew on commercial airlines.

I expected just the opposite.

She explained.

As a frequent international flier, she always paid close attention to the pilots for her flights. The young ones made her nervous, she said. Not because they were less qualified to fly the massive commercial airliners, but because they were less likely to have experienced the many things that can go wrong several miles above terra firma.

She was most comfortable with pilots who had a military background. Their level of “been there, done that” usually involved surviving mechanical failures, life-threatening weather conditions, and split-second choices.

She drew comfort from their hard times.

I drew conclusions from her comments.

When we hear that people have experience in a particular field or endeavor, we often equate that experience with success and only success. However, if that were the case, their experience would not be genuine, for experience bleeds.

As believers in an omnipotent and loving God, we know that nothing is impossible when He is involved. We know that He is always with us, working everything out for our good. But we are less comfortable with reminders of the turbulence and trials that await us, even in His presence.

During our difficult times, we may not be aware of others observing our troubles, but when we’re slammed against the wall and Jesus squeezes out through the cracks in our lives, people see it. When we suffer as they suffer, yet survive—even thrive—they find hope that they can too.

Ironically, when I’m commanding situations from the cockpit of my author’s desk, I’m often reluctant to let my characters fail. I like them. I want to protect them, keep them from hurtling through emotionally turbulent air. However, that’s unrealistic and impractical.

It’s also boring.

Readers know failure is part of the deal, and they want to see the protagonist hit the wall and get up again. They want to observe characters overcoming challenges similar to their own.

Yes, those readers know they’re consuming fictional stories, but truth leaks from the cracks in characters’ lives the same way it does in our own.

Author and literary agent Donald Maass tells writers to find the worst thing that can happen to their protagonist and put it in the book.

That idea makes me shiver. It also makes for good story.

My characters must stumble, fall, and bleed along their developmental pathway. Authentic experience with any endeavor involves imperfection, failure, and growth. Abraham Lincoln and Michael Jordan are exceptional examples of this truth.

It’s the fall-down-get-up principal. 

We don’t think about Jesus falling down, but He did. We read in Matthew 26:37-39 that when he was “sorrowful and deeply distressed” over what was about to take place, He went to Gethsemane with His disciples and “fell on His face, and prayed.”

He who stilled the storm and walked on water, healed the blind, lame, and lepers, and fed thousands fell on His face and prayed.

The book of Luke continues with the following:

And being in great agony, He prayed more earnestly.
And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples,
He found them sleeping from sorrow (Luke 22:44-45).

Jesus fell down before the One He trusted and got up again changed. Comforted. Strengthened to face a horrific event.

Both sides of the fall-down-get-up equation are necessary.

Success comes when the latter outnumbers the former.


Experience bleeds. Click To Tweet

An Impossible Price by Davalynn Spencer


   At a knock on the back door, she rose. Doc Weaver’s voice slipped through the opening, and Betsy stepped aside for him to enter.

   A wiser man Sophie had never met, and by the deep lines carved in his features, he’d experienced much loss himself. He took the chair Betsy had vacated and leaned forward, arms on his knees. “You did everything you could, Sophie.”

   At the kindness of his tone, she shook her head, refusing to accept absolution. ~An Impossible Price

Inspirational Western Romance – where the hero is heroic.

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(c) 2020 Davalynn Spencer, all rights reserved.

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