Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Picture this—a young woman applies for a job that she believes might be a good way to spend her day. The interviewer informs her, "You have a lot of potential, but you’re not ready for this. Think of our company down the road.”

And so she does. Every year or so, reapplying whenever the position is open. Every time, she's told the same thing—“You're not ready yet.”

She takes other jobs, gaining experience, never forgetting her dream job. Eventually she convinces the employer to hire her on probation.

The job is hard. She almost gives up. Who did she think she was to have such a job? She considers quitting, but one day wakes up and decides no matter what, she will prove to herself that she can handle it.

Some days take her to task, but there is also joy in the process. A few months down the road the boss calls her into his office. She fears the worst, but he announces that he’s pleased with her performance and if she wants the job permanently, it's hers.

That’s the way it was for me and writing The Dowser’s Son. The main character, Amos, entered my life the summer of '97. The story was about dowsing, but it was not this story. I don't regret the time put in with that book because it led to writing The Dowser’s Son . That journey had frequent stops and detours. I wrote other books. Each time I finished, I returned for another attempt.

Recently Christy and I talked about my struggle and we both agree. I wasn't ready to finish this story earlier because I wasn't capable of writing it then. I almost put it aside one more time, but then I told myself if I did that again, I should put it away forever. Otherwise it would always be the book I couldn't write. Giving myself that ultimatum made me truly commit to finishing. There were days I wanted to quit, but I didn't(sometimes that was because my husband, daughter, or friends told me I could accomplish this story.)

Last week I received the galley for the book. Somehow I'd made it to the final stage. It was also the stage when I could make changes for the last time. Shannon and Jerry kindly read the story for the last time, too. I finished at 4:45 Thursday afternoon and drove to the UPS store to make copies. As I finished the task, rain started to pour down in sheets, a rare occurrence in the Panhandle. The weather fit my mood.

Driving though the storm, I headed to FED-EX, reflecting on my journey with Amos. This was the end of the road and I was telling him goodbye. A peace mixed with sadness stirred in me. It was a bittersweet moment leaving that package on the counter.

Each book I write teaches me something. The Dowser’s Son taught me that writers sometimes must wait to write a story. If I’d only known that earlier on the path, I would have saved myself a lot of anguish. But that’s usually the way with life's important lessons, isn't it? We sometimes start off confident that we know the destination, and are quickly knocked down a few pegs. Then when we pick ourselves up and weather the storm, we look back and realize we didn't even notice the clouds rolling in. We were too busy chasing the sun.


  1. Thanks, Debbie. I know you know what this feels like.

  2. When Neil Gaiman won the Newbery for The Graveyard Book, he said that the book had been waiting for 20 years for him to be a good enough writer to write it. I find it interesting that you are saying something very similar.

    I look forward to reading this one when it comes out.

  3. I guess every writer has a book that is difficult to lasso.