Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Novel Change

Please indulge my 'writing' ramblings...

About a year or so ago I was watching a soap where a teenaged character was going through a very tough time emotionally. She learned at an early age that she was adopted and decided to leave home to look for her birth mother. Unfortunately her birth mother (not realising who she was)gave her a rather frosty reception. The young lady also met her maternal grandfather and learned that he was the one who put her up for adoption. Apparently he'd lied to his daughter that the baby had died. It was truly gut-wrenching to watch.

At the end of the programme there was a public service announcement offering the phone number for the Samaritans (a charity that offers support and counselling to people going through some distress or turmoil in their lives).

As most writers can attest, this (like much of life) got me thinking. It gave me a story idea. I imagined a character who works at a helpline, offering comfort, encouragement and advice to the emotionally weary. As I thought about this character, I naturally, thought about what her life is like and what type of person she is. I imagined that she is an irony, because while she works to sort out other people's lives, her own personal life is a mess.

In my mind my protagonist, let's call her Lisa, is in a relationship with a man who doesn't appreciate her. He is a layabout, who uses his dream of being a published author as an excuse not to work. So essentially she's his provider. She resents his dependence on her, but by the same token encourages it because it makes her feel needed. This coupled with the guilt she carries as a constant companion, fragment her personality. Her guilt is bourne out of the child she gave birth to in secret at the age of 16. At the time no one knew she was pregnant, not even her, until she went into labour in a lonely field a few hundred yards from her family home. She left the baby in the field believing it was stillborn.

Maybe the baby really did die, or not. Maybe someone actually saw Lisa in that field and has been biding their time to approach her. Or, maybe the child searches her out. I don't know. So many thoughts.

This highlights the beauty that is the imagination and the ability God has given to create stories and relationships that move us, cause us to examine ourselves and to ask question.

Thinking about a helpline adviser, who has bigger problems than some of the people she helps leads me to think about myself in particular and Christians in general. Matthew 7:3-4 asks a pertinent question, "And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?" Some of us are people who others gravitate to to ask for advice and guidance; others are people who like to give advice and feel 'in the know', while yet others have an intellectual awareness that makes them dig deep to find the answers to life's tough questions without being heart-touched (they know what to do, find it easy to share what they know, but never follow their own advice).

I admit I sometimes give advice that I find difficult to take. I hope I can learn from Lisa how to be true to what I say. Maybe the process of developing this character and writing this story will prove therapeutic.

By God's grace I will learn and grow.

Ufuoma Daniella Ojo is a Technical Author and Software Trainer. She lives in London. She is working on some new stories about relationships and is trusting God for connections leading to publication.


  1. It sounds like you are doing some interesting thinking there. It is always easier to give advice than to follow it. Maybe it is the distance that allows us to see truth more clearly.

    As I read your story line, I was thinking maybe she would recognize in one of her callers, the child she had given up for adoption. That could make an interesting story. Of course, maybe it would turn out to be a scam and the book a thriller. :-)

    Keep learning and growing. And writing.

  2. Yes, Ufuoma, writing is therapeutic. We write what we know emotionally and spiritually. And our honesty can touch the lives of many others. It sure sounds like a good story line.

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