by Marion Ueckermann
Everyone loves a fairytale. Say the four magic words, “Once upon a time”, and images of princes and princesses, witches and ogres, white horses and glass carriages conjure up in the mind. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Snow White . . . even Fiona and Shrek.
I have a fairytale to tell. It’s not set in the usual kingdom, forest or castle however, but it does start way, way up in a timber tree house.
In sticking to the common theme, I’ll begin my story in true fairytale fashion . . .
Once upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of playing in the timber tree house with her brother and his three friends. But she knew it was an impossible dream . . . boys didn’t play with girls, and they definitely did not invite them into their tree houses.
One day, the middle brother of the three friends felt bad that the little girl was left all alone down on the ground. When the others weren’t around, he invited her up to his leafy penthouse pad. Like a monkey, she eagerly clambered up the tree to join her hero.
Not long after, Hero moved away to boarding school in a distant city. They didn’t see each other much anymore.
The little girl grew into a young woman . . . okay, a beautiful young woman. She too had moved away from their village to follow her dreams in a big city, far, far away. Sadly, she kissed a few frogs as she searched for her prince, her one true love.
Years later, on a visit to her childhood village, she saw Hero sitting on a wooden pew in the village church. He was home visiting his kin. She couldn’t help noticing her tree house hero had grown into a handsome young man. Although shy, Hero wasn’t blind either to the fact that the little girl had blossomed into a beautiful woman.
A few months later they were betrothed and she often reminded Hero how they had played together in his tree house as young children, never knowing that one day they’d be making a home of their own together.
Soon after their betrothal they were saying their own four magic words:
And they lived happily ever after (well, at least for the next 25 years and counting . . .)
In my true-life fairytale, I’m not quite sure who wooed who. As a ten-year-old, Noel had invited me to share his tree house; as a 23-year-old, I invited him to share a picnic (it was the twentieth century). From that day on we were inseparable.
Noel and I celebrated our silver wedding anniversary this past Tuesday. 25 years of marital bliss. Quite an accomplishment I’d like to think in today’s divorce-happy culture. But 25 years of marriage is not just handed to anyone on a silver platter (sorry Shirl, this was one cliché that was just too appropriate to ditch). It comes from years of perseverance (working through the times when many would think it far easier to give up), communication, and having eyes only for each other.
Successful writing and successful marriages have these same three things in common.
In his book, Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell states: “The main difference between successful writers and unsuccessful writers is persistence.” The same could be said about marriage, ie. the main difference between successful marriages and unsuccessful marriages is perseverance (or persistence).
Jeff Gerke in The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction counsels in his chapter titled ‘An (Accepting) Audience of One’: “Be sure you understand Who you’re writing for and why you’re writing it for Him.” Ephesians 5 exhorts married couples too about that audience of one: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord (v22); Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (v25); For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh (v31); Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband (v33).”
In Fiction 101, Randy Ingermanson teaches that dialogue must advance the plot. Lack of communication is cited as the #1 reason for divorce. Better communication can, however, save a marriage. Just as dialogue moves a story forward, when husbands and wives communicate, they move their marriages forward from one year to two years . . . to ten, twenty, fifty . . . and finally, a lifetime.
Do you have a fairytale tucked away in your life story? I’d love to hear it if you care to share it.
MARION UECKERMANN’s writing passion was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then Marion has been honing her skills and has published some devotional articles in Winners at Work as well as inspirational poetry online and in a poetry journal. She has written her first Christian Women’s novel (unpublished) and is currently completing the sequel. Marion now lives in Pretoria East, South Africa with her husband, sons and a crazy black ‘Scottie’. A member and moderator of the South African Christian Writers Group, Marion can be contacted via email on marionu(at)telkomsa(dot)net or through her website www.inkslinger.co.cc