These days, every time the doorbell rings I hope the first copies of Secrets of the Dark Closet have arrived. Anticipation is high. Is the cover appealing? Will anyone read it? Will they like it?
Soon I’ll see the results of the road I’ve taken. At the same time, I keep finding quotes about paths and roads, like this one that surfaced this morning: He will turn troubles into highways—Catherine Marshall. Or this one by Robert Frost that Pastor Dan quoted last Sunday:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Writing is a little like traveling a wooded road, because you can’t see very far in front of you. Back in the 1980s when my uncle, Wallace Muir, began researching the family history, no one suspected his path would lead to the door of Gram’s dark closet.
Uncle Wally wanted to do the genealogy, and lay to rest some rumors that had hovered around the family. He spent more than 20 years on the project. I was fascinated as, one by one, he dug out and documented scandalous facts. But little did I know I’d be compelled to write about my sweet grandmother, Bessie Kloubec Muir, who took so many secrets to her grave.
“The Muir-Kloubec genealogy and History 1708-2005” was finally published in 2005. Uncle Wally was a good writer and he added many anecdotes to the family history, but the amount of data he included overwhelmed the human story.
When he died three years later (at the age of 87), I inherited 93 pounds of his records. Sifting through census records, letters, early genealogies and other documents he had collected, I tried to imagine what Bessie did, said and thought as each crisis surfaced. After all, she was only 11 when her family came apart at the seams.
Here is the question that troubled Bessie during her growing up years: “A person goes through life making one choice after another. How can you tell if a choice will take you down a road you do not want to go?”
During the years of writing, I asked myself similar questions. Was it worth it to spend so much time writing her story? Would she want her “dirty laundry” aired? Was using real names the right thing to do?
Psalm 119: 105 states: “Thy word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.”
When I read that, my mind’s eye sees a well-lit, paved street stretching into the distance. But in reality, my own journey seems more like Frost’s path through a dark woods. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Maybe we aren’t given detailed itineraries for our lives so we learn to develop faith and courage.
I often sought God for direction. Doing the following things helped me feel sure I was on the right road. They can help you, too:
Outwardly, it seemed foolish to write Secrets of the Dark Closet, but when seeking God, I still felt compelled in that direction. Not until I finished the last page, in a blazing to-remember moment, did I begin to understand the power of Bessie’s story.
Recently I was thrilled to receive a letter from my high school English teacher. He was the first person to fuel my desire to write. Now, decades later, he is still the epitome of encouragement and graceful writing. One phrase of his letter really struck me. He said, “God…pieces together the wonderful tapestry of our event-filled lives to give them both temporal and eternal meaning.”
Through the writing process, I’ve come to believe that the landscape of our families is stitched to our hearts in ways we cannot fathom. The journey of our particular family includes the riveting story of a young girl named Bessie. It’s time to shine a light on her path.
When the book becomes available in a month or so, I will let you know how you can obtain a copy!