Posted by: Bridgett.
Do you like jigsaw puzzles?
Before I could even read, my mom instilled a deep enjoyment of them in me. I’m not sure whether it’s the mystery, the logical exercise of fitting shapes together in a way the makes sense, or just the challenge of all those pieces shouting, “where do I fit?” I just know, puzzles are fun.
Except when the pieces are scattered, the box top has gone missing, and the puzzle turns out to be your novel…or worse, your life.
Maybe you have the puzzle almost completed, know what the big picture on the box is supposed to look like. Then the pieces scatter, and you’re left with space enough for only half of them—but still have to make the picture work.
I’m in the middle of just such a dilemma. I’ve sent my debut novel to several publishers for consideration. The story is complete, a fully-formed “big picture” cemented in my mind. Parts of it have been assembled as-is for years. Then came the scatter.
Like a trio of very tall, very articulate, and very wise toddlers rushing through the room to fling the pieces in every direction, three industry sages advised a major revision. Rip the beautiful puzzle apart and start the story with the events in chapter 6. Oh, and cut the whole thing by about a third.
The result? 1000 puzzle pieces are now scrambling around in my brain, some still connected to their neighbors, all fighting each other for positions in a space that can hold only 600 or so.
But…what about all the heart-wrenching emotional set-up in my book? But…what happens to my cinematic opening that makes every reader want to move to the fictional village of Cloistervale? But…how will I make readers care about my protagonist if they don’t experience what she’s been through?
The thing is, the “toddlers” are right.
This fitting of the lovely canvas of my story into a smaller space will leave no room for puzzle pieces that were blurred, redundant, or less interesting. It is also forcing me into a deeper understanding of my story’s elements and essential components. In the end, the picture will be sharper, brighter, and more compelling than ever. The trick is, getting there.
I’m thankful to be writing this blog post for two reasons. 1. It forced me to give my aching brain a break from the warring puzzle pieces (er, lines of dialogue, action sequences, etc.) 2. It gave God a chance to remind me of something. This isn’t the first, or the hardest, time I’ve had to piece a puzzle back to together in a new way.
When illness ripped apart the picture I’d so meticulously crafter for my life (mainly, my calling as a teacher), I was forced to discover that God could reassemble that picture in ways I never imagined. The result turned out more stunning than before. But that’s another story.
In Isaiah 46: 9-10, God declares:
…I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’
The box top may get lost, or we may not know how to fit the picture into the smaller space, but the Manufacturer of the puzzle does. He painted the picture long before the puzzle hit the store shelves. No matter how tiny or mixed up the pieces become, He has a spot reserved for each.
Our job is to keep putting the pieces together one or two at a time, and trust Him to assemble it all into the Big Picture.
Your turn to Shed Your Light below…
Are you facing a pile of scattered puzzle pieces? How can we pray for you?
Would you be interested in reading updates as I go through this revision process?
About the author:
Bridgett Powers has defied the limitations of impaired vision and overcome a 21-year battle against chronic pain, all of which taught her a profound truth. God shines brightest through cracked lanterns.
Now, she shares that truth through her fantasy novels, picture book, and short stories. A member of ACFW and MyBookTherapy, she also serves as co-leader and writing coach for her writer’s group, operates a proofreading and editing service, and teaches writing workshops.