When I began to write inspirational articles for such varied magazines as Today’s Christian Parent, Listen, Guideposts, and Farm Wife News, I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. After all, I was simply telling about things that had happened to me — or things I had observed. I would simply tell the stories (non-fiction) and add details (also non-fiction) that I hoped would be meaningful to the reader. My aim was to get people to look within and see undiscovered possibilities in themselves.
Then an editor suggested that a collection of these published articles, combined with others that I had yet to write, might make an “art of living” book. The idea intrigued me, especially because I thought I could put a book like this together in record time. Half of it was already written, and I wouldn’t have to do any reserach because the rest of the chapters would all cover things I knew about.
I realized how wrong I was when I began the introduction to The Pearl Is in the Oyster. I had heard somewhere that pearls were composed of layers, just like onions, and I decided to make a comparison. I was familiar with onions, having cried a bucket of onion tears in my time, and I thought I was familiar with pearls. After all, I had a pearl necklace and earrings, didn’t I? But when I started to write, I discovered that a description of a pearl wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t get people do look inside and see those undiscovered possibilities that I wanted to write about.
Because this was in my pre-computer writing days, I spent hours at the library researching pearls. I found out that no two pearls are ever the same (like people), that sometimes an imitation can be mistaken for the real thing, but not for long. I learned that a pearl is made from the inside out. Its luster doesn’t come from surface shininess. It comes from layer after layer of rich translucence, formed a little at a time: a living process of development and change. Is that impressive or not?
Then I decided to go a step further, and I researched the greatest source of all, finding in the Scriptures verses from the Beatitudes that illustrate the steps we take in growing to be what we were meant to be.
Are you thinking of writing an “art of living” book? Here’s my advice. Get busy and research those things you think you already know. And don’t stop with google.com. Turn to the Scriptures, and you will find more than one “pearl of great price.” (Matthew 13: 45-46)
Contributed by Marilyn Donahue