Advice from Caroline B. Cooney


This morning I had the privilege of sitting down and chatting with author Caroline B. Cooney (maybe you remember The Face on the Milk Carton?). Who knew that when I moved here a year and half ago, I would join an online mommy forum, meet a friend, and her mom would be a well known published author?  Not only that, but an author who’s writing I would devour in middle school, staying up well past my 11 year old bed time and reading until my eyes wouldn’t let me anymore. God knew and I’m certain He paved the way!  I’m sure He will continue to go before me as this novel on my heart becomes a reality. This task feels overwhelming at times, but I have to trust He will guide me because I’m absolutely positive He has a plan and purpose.

Coincidentally, that’s the number one thing I got out of our meeting today: how to not make it feel overwhelming. I often feel the urge to write, and then I sit down to type and words don’t come.  My thoughts get muddied with the big picture and I begin questioning my own ability at putting it all together (and God’s ability, too). But, she helped me realize  it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time I get the words out. It doesn’t even have to be written in order. Just write.She advised me that I write one paragraph/scene a day and throw myself into it with as much detail as I can. One paragraph? That sounds so much more manageable! After all, with 2 kids, managing a household, playdates, among other writing projects, its hard to find time for myself to work on this but I’m certain that I have a few minutes during naps or late nights to focus on just one scene as it comes to mind. She’s been writing for many years, with 3 now-grown kids of her own so she knows how hard it can be to find time and balance those roles. Its good to know that being an author with young children can work without pushing the kids to the wayside. Sure it might take longer, but it can be done.

She also threw me for a loop, making a suggestion to write the story as a completely separate fiction story and only some parts of the  adoption experience be drawn from my own life. Its totally different than the approach I was planning in taking, but that’s what the writing process is all about….revising ideas, perspectives, and words. It would still have the overall open adoption and godly message, but with a girl of a slightly different age, different home situation, different location, different appearance, etc. The idea is that I have more freedom since I wouldn’t be tied down to reality. I would be able to add more tension and subplots to keep readers interested in reading, yet still share the message that I feel needs to be shared.

I’m still sitting and praying on that idea of writing a whole different story because I feel strongly that God wants me to tell our story. But in a way, it feels freeing because part of what felt overwhelming before is knowing that as I write our story out I was going to have to dive into personal situations and personify important people in my life, like my parents or her birthfather. In reality this was a painful time for all of us, and while tension and not-so-easy times needs to be in the story, it doesn’t have to be exactly our story to still portray the message I’d like the world to receive.  I also don’t want important people in my life to feel hurt by how I portrayed them. So, these wouldn’t be my parents, they would be this fictional girl’s parents. They would be completely different people. This way, I can also dive into other perspectives, like the girl’s parents views or adoptive parents and not feel like I’ll be stepping on any toes. I feel like maybe this story could be more complete in a way just writing my story couldn’t be as a fiction. Like I said, I’m still mulling all this over and praying about it, I’m feeling very mixed. Its different, but ultimately, I know God will guide me to how its supposed to be.

What do yall think of that? I know many of you were looking forward to reading even more details of our adoption story, what do you think of this new perspective? 


Leave a Reply