Living Vicariously through writing gives me all kinds of opportunities. It not only allows me to ask What If questions, but it also lets me play with various topics, writing styles and settings. I have submitted poems to Mom’s Favorite Reads, an emagazine that serves a wide readership. I’m not a poet, but I have enjoyed writing poems, and I could definitely get used to it…
Most of my books are written in the Present Tense, mainly because I have no idea what kinds of paths my characters will take. So I can’t write as if it’s happened already, can I? I simply live through them, looking at life and its many questions.
After I published Beyond the Hills, I decided to do something different. I wasn’t sure whether it would be a short story, a novella or a full-blown book. I decided to tell a story, live through a teenage character, so write in First Person, as well as Past Tense. I worried that I would give up after a few paragraphs, but the story grew and grew.
Quite early on, when thinking about the story and the setting, I knew it was about grief. It was about losing the wrong people in your life. It was about grief making life feel grey, dull, heavy but God’s blessings were like bright spots in a dark world.
I found the picture that spoke to me, the bright red flowers lighting up the world, reminding us of God’s faithfulness. Being Dutch, tulips have to be my favourite flower, right? A flower that is such a reminder of Spring, of new life, of God ordaining the seasons, even seasons of grief. Tulips look straight, proud and tall, but are still no more than fragile flowers, gone in a moment if the wind gets up.
For fun, I decided that my teenage character should have a friend who was a poet. As he was a teenager and rather dreamy, it felt the poetry didn’t have to be amazing. It was more him wanting to be a poet, rather than the quality of his poetry. I still had lots of fun with it. He not only spouted verse at any given moment, but he also tried his hand at some of the hymns they sang in church.
The church on the island named Ximiu was rather modern and focussed a lot on Green issues. I realised I needed to include one of my favourite hymns. Not only are the words beautiful, they tied in with what I wanted to happen in the chapter. And the tune is one of my favourite tunes. It’s a Welsh tune, called Llanllyfni, which goes well with the words. So in it all went!
The words are like this:
1 Give to the winds thy fears,
hope and be undismayed;
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears;
God shall lift up thy head.
Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears the way;
wait thou His time, so shall this night
soon end in joyous day.
2 Still heavy is thy heart,
still sink thy spirits down?
Cast off the weight, let fear depart,
and ev’ry care be gone.
What though thou rulest not,
yet heav’n, and earth, and hell
proclaim, God sitteth on the throne,
and ruleth all things well.
3 Leave to His sov’reign sway
to choose and to command,
so shalt thou wond’ring own His way,
how wise, how strong His hand!
Far, far above thy thought
His counsel shall appear,
when fully He the work hath wrought,
that caused thy needless fear.
4 Thou seest our weakness, Lord,
our hearts are known to Thee;
O lift Thou up the sinking heart,
confirm the feeble knee.
Let us in life, in death,
Thy steadfast truth declare,
and publish with our latest breath
Thy love and guardian care.
Here is what the tune (sort of) sounds like. At the end of the blog is the audio of all three verses that are in the hymnbook we use at Eastcombe Baptist Church. (We don’t have the second verse included in our hymnbook.) This YouTube video explains a little bit about the book as well.
The hymn is written by Paul Gerhardt, a German theologian, pastor and hymn writer. The original of Give to the Winds Thy Fears was Befiehl du deine Wege, and it’s one of the most-loved hymns in German. I knew it in Dutch, but the tune is different, and we divide each verse in two. It’s even more different in English, where even the length of the lines is different, so no international singsong with this wonderful hymn, sadly.
The thing I like about the German one is the clever use of the first words of each verse, leading to a Bible verse in Psalm 37, Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass. Here is the link to the German version, with the first words in bold to show you the text. Do listen to the audio link at the top of the page, it’s beautiful!
This is what I like about writing: I get to add the things I love into my stories. I can make my characters struggle with questions, I can comfort them with beautiful songs. I can make them grieve the loss of friends, celebrate the rescue of others and be uplifted by friends.
Burrowed will be published on April 12th, 2022. You can pre-order a signed copy from my shop or order one from your local bookshop.