Write What You Know

TSCDTA-StandingKALINA HUGGED HER pillow even tighter as sunlight invaded the darkness of her room. She buried her face in it to hold onto the peace that had enveloped her before the bright intrusion of the spring morning. The sun’s warm rays streamed through her lace curtains creating psychedelic patterns on her pale blue wall, teasing her to get up and get going. It was Sunday and, as usual, her day was already loaded with activity. She wished she could be like many of her friends who didn’t have to get up and go to church every Sunday.
Above is the first paragraph in my first book, Dreams Thrown Away. It’s a prime example of writing what you know. Not every detail, of course, but what you know is what you can translate into emotional and visual manifestation on a page. Was this me in the first paragraph? Was this me in my first book? Partially, yes. Kalina Denise Harris (Kali) shares some of my characteristics, but let’s not get confused. Kali’s parents were a Baptist minister and a choir director. She had grown up in the church, so had I. My grandparents were my primary caregivers and they were very active in the church. They were so involved I felt that I only lived in one of three places, home, school, and church.
Are you with me on this? How many of you who grew up in a Southern Baptist church and had friends who didn’t have to be in church every Sunday? Call me a heathen, but my hand just shot up, high. As I said, I lived in one of three places and church was a big chunk of my existence. I can recall being in church, literally, all day long. My grandfather was a deacon and custodian at the church. He had to get there early to turn on the heat or the fans, etc. So we were at church before anyone else arrived. After that, Sunday School would start, and it would always run over. Shortly after Sunday School, there was a prayer meeting or a pre-meeting of some sort before regular service. That would last almost an hour and then, then, then there was the service that could run from two to three hours. Whew!!! Some of you can relate, I know.
If that wasn’t enough, there were other reasons to go to church during the week regularly, choir practice, deacon meetings, and custodial duties are what I remember off the top of my head. I am sure there were more, and I have filed them away in my memory. I still have visions of that church and the feeling of begrudgingly walking into it. To make matters worse, I know I shouldn’t complain, but once a year there was the weeklong revival where there were two services and two prayer meetings on the first Sunday of August, then there were prayer meetings and services Monday through Friday. Whew, you couldn’t wait until Saturday, but the next Sunday morning came quickly.
Yes, I lived in the church until I became a teenager and my grandparents got tired of the struggle. Happily, I became one of those friends who didn’t have to get out of bed so early, anyway, on Sunday morning. Not all of it was bad; I did enjoy my friends and the family I made there. Sometimes I miss that familiar feeling, but these days I don’t have to wonder about friends who don’t go to church. I’m not there every Sunday myself, and I am okay with that.
Dilsa Saunders Bailey is an independent author who has not only self-published three novels and a non-fiction book; she has spent most of her medical services career writing policies, bylaws, operations manuals, and more over the last 27 years. Dilsa is now coaching writers through the self-publishing journey and helping them to set up their businesses using their books as a marketing tool to build their platforms. If you want to learn more about how she can help you, contact her at dilsa@simplydilsa.com or join her blog below to keep up to date with her books and seminars.

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