Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In The Giant’s Shadow By Marcia Lee Laycock

Living in the shadow of a giant is not easy. It makes one feel small, insignificant, and those feelings can breed a sense of futility and resentment. A giant’s shadow is hard to evade; a giant’s footprints huge and deep. As a writer living north of the United States, I know what those feelings are like. I have to battle with them regularly.

I see the huge U.S. market and am told the only way to success is to break in. I am told if I want to sell my work there, I must use American spelling and avoid referring to any “local” idiosyncrasies or even cities in my own country. I see the plethora of books from that country flooding into mine and wonder if there is any room at all for an indigenous voice.

Writer Don Marquis once said – "Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo." Sometimes it seems trying to publish in the United States is just as futile. Yet, I am called to write and therefore to publish, and publish broadly. I can only assume that God wants what I write to be read. For some reason, He thinks my voice, and the voices of thousands of others in this wide world are significant.

They are significant not just because we have done our apprenticeship and reached a level of skill and expertise, but because God wants to use them. We are His children, unique in the universe and He has a purpose for us – for every part of us, including the words in our minds and hearts – those unique words that we put into a computer and may send out, with fear and trembling, to a “foreign” publisher.
The expression of that uniqueness, when done with pure motive, is honouring to our Creator. Therefore it is not only fitting that we do it, it is commanded.

1 Peter 4:10 says – “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” What we write is a form of God’s grace to be extended to others, no matter how insignificant we feel under the shadow of the giant, no matter how small the audience may be.

Don Marquis’ quote could leave those of us living in the giant’s shadow with a sense of futility unless we know there is an echo, even if it is the infinitely small sound of a rose petal falling in the Grand Canyon. The smallest of echoes has meaning when it is an echo of our Creator’s purpose.

So we in the giant’s shadow must toss our rose petals to the winds, scatter them with prayer and thanksgiving both on home and on foreign soil. We must believe that one day they will take root, for they are significant in God’s economy. Through His Spirit and by His grace, they may even change a life.

Marcia's novel, One Smooth Stone won her the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone, with be released this fall. Visit her website - www.vinemarc.com


  1. I've just finished reading "One Smooth Stone" -- I won it on this blog -- and found it enjoyable to read of people and places I could identify. So refreshing to hear a policeman called "constable." I've also finished reading "Downhill Chance" by Donna Morrisey and felt I'd entered a foreign land. For our international readers, Morrisey's book is set in Newfoundland, a province of Canada, but with a unique culture. The language has its own rhythm and phrases (rather like Cockney English), the history is different -- Newfoundland only joined Confederation in 1949 and there are some who still think that was a mistake . The province is so far out in the Atlantic it even has its own time zone.
    I have always bemoaned the dearth of Canadian settings in popular fiction, but putting these two books side by side, I may have caught a small insight into the reading habits of our neighbours to the south. One was easy to read, one was difficult. It's easy to put down a difficult book, but if we persevere the rewards are great. Sitting comfortably in our armchairs we can experience the harsh seas and wild winds of a Newfoundland outpost, or the searing heat of an Arizona summer. We can smile over a regional turn of phrase and marvel at the diversity of God's world -- even just the English-speaking world!
    Hang in there, Marcia. A good story is always worth telling, even if the giant is deaf.

  2. The metaphor of the rose petals really struck a chord with me. I love how you said we can 'toss our rose petals to the wind' and basically trust God in His sovereignty to blow them where he will. On another note, I think there is a need for authenticity of voice in our fiction. I enjoy reading books that have a certain local 'flair' and I think it would be a shame to lose that simply because we want to 'fit in' with Big Brother.
    PS: Loved 'One Smooth Stone' and am waiting in anticipation for the sequel! Blessings

  3. I am outraged! Why should a Canadian - or any other nationality - author have to change their voice and spellings to fit the US publishing houses' machines?

    I love authentic voices. I do know the relationship of a cheque and a check. In my judgment (judgement), the indigenous spellings are as much part of the book and setting and characters as the color (colour) of the sea in the wind or the hair and eyes of the protagonist.

    People who will not educate themselves beyond their provincial comfort zones are impoverished. Shame on the publishing industry for helping them to stay in poverty.

    Literature is a vehicle to broaden our experiences, not keep us hampered in our ignorant biases.

    Sorry, end of rant. I'm going to look for Marcia's novel today.

  4. Oh, Marcia! I agree totally with Tracy and Judith. Local color (colour?) is a very important part of good literature. And, as Judith says, one of the purposes of literature is to expand the reader's universe. Not all American publishers are so provincial. Canadian author Louise Penny is very popular here, for example. Keep the faith. Do you have an agent to help you?

  5. Thank you for this wonderful post. I just started following this blog and I love the international variety. I agree with the comment about local flair. There's a saying that historians have that history is local. The same could be said of fiction. Plus, I love hearing about God's unique landscapes and peoples.

  6. Thanks for all the comments. I seem to have struck a chord. :) For those interested, the sequel to One Smooth Stone will be released by Canadian publisher, Castle Quay, sometime between Oct. and Dec. of this year. I'll be sure to let you all know when it's out. Thanks so much for the encouragement!