Rising Shadows

Published June 26, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.” Jeremiah 18:4

“Bethany Lane was usually a calm and peaceful street, but today rain poured down from dark clouds, and wind blew debris in all directions…” This was the opening line for my final project in my eighth grade creative writing class. It was also the story that evolved many years later into what I hope you will come to know as Rising Shadows. The story entitled Bethany Lane was only eight pages long, and it was the only project we had been allowed to create without any guidelines. It was about a modern day girl named Sarah Matthews and her sister, Lilly, who were accidentally transported back in time to the twelfth century and had to find their way back to the present with the help of a girl named Karen … Sound familiar?

Originally, though, there was just the three girls and very little adventure and mystery involved—there was no town or ball, only a quick trip to the castle and dungeon before they returned home. That town never had a masked hero called the Shadow who went to great lengths to uncover an assassination plot against a king, and he certainly never encountered a young maiden in the heart of the forest. There also was not a handsome blacksmith in that story, and thus no romantic interludes in the woods late at night, which didn’t allow much room for daring rescues, either. The story Bethany Lane had almost zero brushes with death within its pages and no dangerous encounters. I didn’t even think about including these elements into the story until several years later.

It was in 2007, when my family and I had just moved back to Southern California, and I was deleting my old stories off the computer. Every story from my writing class was deleted … Except for Bethany Lane. At the time, I had no idea why I kept it—maybe just fond memories—but now I know that God had a purpose for it. However, that lone saved story went unattended for many months, simply taking up space on my hard drive. Then one rainy afternoon that winter, my sisters and I were watching BBC’s Robin Hood when the idea for the Shadow suddenly clicked, though it was odd that I even thought of Bethany Lane because I never had any intention of rewriting the story. I don’t even remember what triggered that moment of insane inspiration, but I do recall my excitement over this newfound idea.

At first, the words did not come—I was verbally dried like a dead riverbed—as I twirled my hair around my finger and tapped my fingertips on the desk. Then a few words began to create a character and forest scene (the first one where Sarah and the Shadow meet), then a few more words added to this burgeoning idea, and pretty soon my fingers were flying over the keys to keep pace with my feverish thoughts. I was satisfied with my work by the end of the day, excited to be back on the “writing saddle” again after such a long reprieve, though I had no intention of ever doing anything with the newly renamed story, “The Shadow.” But over time, I realized that the plot needed to be expanded, a new, extremely handsome and mysterious blacksmith needed to insert himself into the picture to complete the triangle, someone had to be kidnapped and sentenced to death (not saying who!), there needed to be far more dangerous escapades, it was a necessity that someone’s heart be broken, and, of course, a building had to be set aflame. This evolution didn’t happen overnight—no, it was actually rather slow, though most of my inspirational moments did happen around midnight. My patient younger sister and roommate, Katie, endured many sleepless nights with the glare of the laptop screen and the incessant click click click in our dark room.

So, to all you budding authors and writers who just love to string words together and create, take it from me: Don’t give up, but continue to do what you love and play with that story until it becomes something that you fall in love with, and always take a minute—or two!—to listen to where God wants the story to go, because He definitely knows a little something about creating something magnificent.     

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the Rising Shadows playlist on the left on the book’s page. Also, you can purchase Rising Shadows here: www.vyrso.com and on www.kirkdalepress.com, where you can also check out my author interview on the author page.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” -Benjamin Franklin

   

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