Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stories from the Beach

My sister-in-law, Sandy, is very creative and loves to craft presents for her family and friends.
A few weeks ago she and my brother visited us en route to Ireland. Much to my delight, she gifted me with this picture.


Her materials? Things most of us would throw away—debris from the beach near her home, an old magazine, a scrap from a dry palm frond and a length of old skirting board.

As first I looked at the picture and enjoyed its intrinsic beauty. But after a few days I found myself comparing it to a favourite novel—you know, one of those books which you cannot put down because you just have to read one more page to see what happens, then one more chapter, then another, then another . . .

The two characters sitting on their wooden bench intrigued me. Sure they were just four little pebbles, but those pebbles had been tumbled and buffeted in the sea, then sand-blasted until they were smooth and rounded. Life with all its ups and downs had probably smoothed the couple's rough edges and shaped their personalities. Backstory!

Who were they? Undercover cops? A couple watching their dog play in the surf? Colleagues on a lunch break? Friends taking a vacation together?  Smugglers waiting to pick up contraband? The possibilities were endless.

What ifs sprang to mind. What if a helicopter crashed in front of them? What if a diver emerged from the sea? What if a diamond necklace washed up at their feet? What if a beached jellyfish stung their dog and it had a severe allergic reaction and couldn't breathe? What if that dog was a guide dog? What if . . .

And then there was the heart. Perhaps this was the start of a new romance and the book ended with "and they lived happily ever after". Or maybe not. 

What were those people feeling? Were they grieving? Were they excited about a new project? Were they jealous of someone's success? Were they anxious? Were they . . . 

I want to care about the characters when I read. I want to bite my nails when the protagonist is making a serious mistake, hold my breath when she is in danger and sigh with satisfaction when she overcomes obstacles to fulfil a lifelong ambition.

The single word "faith" stood out. I love reading inspirational books which deepen my faith in God and help me to have a closer relationship with Him. After all, Jesus used stories to teach His followers. Would these characters follow God's way or chase after their own desires. What could I learn from their lives?

The picture captured a lovely setting. I could smell the salt laden air, feel the hot sand between my toes and lose myself in the constant swirl of the water on the beach. 

My sister-in-law sanded patches of white paint off the skirting board to reveal the blue undercoat, which added depth to the sea so that it looked real. Aha, there's the subtext lurking beneath the story, adding an extra dimension to the novel.

Thank you for my seascape, Sandy, it's a picture to treasure.

Note to blog readers:

These are a few of my thoughts. Now it's your turn? What do you see in Sandy's picture? 

16 comments:

  1. Lovely post, Ruth. I see an elderly couple watching the seagulls off-shore and pondering their life together in which they have exercised faith and love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment, Shirl. Those were pretty much my first thoughts

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Super Idea. I didn't think of children even though I work with 22 preschoolers every day.

      Delete
  3. It makes me wish my husband and I could be right there with all the time in the world just listening to the tsh tsh of little waves caressing the shore. Hah, Wishful thinking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps God will surprise with your wish!

      Delete
  4. Gorgeous piece of art, Ruth, and great post. I see a young boy and girl running along a jetty. Will they jump off the end and splash into the lake below? Will they take a leap of faith? Will they grow up together and fall in love? Childhood sweethearts? I love the way you have created a medium to bring the imagination to life :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I see an elderly couple watching the sea. A fabulous post, Ruth. Your sister-in-law is very talented and I loved how you wove the story from the art. Since I'm currently working on an art-crime mystery, your post has definitely kickstarted my creativity for the day. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sandra. Hope you are enjoying writing your art-crime mystery.

      Delete
  6. Ruth, beautiful post :) I see two little penguins on the beach at dusk at Phillip Island, Australia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Narelle, I love the idea of two penguins.

      Delete
  7. I love the way you saw so much about novel writing in the beautiful piece of art you were given, Ruth Ann. As for those two people depicted there, it might sound a bit 'super spiritual' but I immediately thought of Jesus just sitting beside me there, listening and encouraging me. That probably shows that's exactly what I need right now as I head off interstate soon to give a workshop at the Christian Writers' Conference here and also to speak in a few other places!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jo-Anne, what a lovely thought.. May be God be with you as you speak.

      Delete
  8. What stood out to me was how you wrote that she used materials that most of us would throw away. Often when we start reading a story, it begins in a place of crisis or pain, and then hopefully by the end of the book it has a happy ending. I love this photo, because someone took those unwanted, broken pieces and made them into something beautiful. . .Just like God does in our own lives!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lisa. I thought much the same thing- it all ties up with Romans 8:28

      Delete