Behind the Story – Glory Days

by | Mar 12, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Glory Days is a short story I wrote in 2020. It was my first official widespread release, and it was a lot of fun. Glory Days taught me to appreciate the unexpected changes a story goes through as it becomes the finished product. WARNING: spoilers ahead! I encourage you to read the story in its entirety before reading this blog post. You can do so by clicking here.

Sharing anything I’ve written always feels like exposure for me. I never know how something is going to be received or if I’m accurately conveying what I’m trying to say. Releasing something always makes me nervous. When I decided to release Glory Days in a serialized format (one chapter each day until the story was finished), I knew it was risky. But I was ready to do something different.

The idea for this story had been in my head for several years. The journey a story takes from foggy ideas to finished product has always been fascinating to me. The way things start in my head looks vastly different from what you read on the page (and hopefully the latter is better). Glory Days highlighted that journey for me more than anything I’ve released so far. Originally, the main character was a pastor leaving his church (and town) in the middle of the night. As usual, the more time I spent with the character, the more he pushed my ideas aside and told me his own history.

I have an appreciation for the atmospheric elements of story. Characters, themes, and metaphors are all important to me. But there is a special place in my heart for setting and atmosphere. Sometimes that by itself can convey more than I can in direct telling. So the idea of a creepy, aging diner was appealing to me. Setting creates an important element of suspense, and the diner was perfect for this story. I didn’t intend for the entire story to happen in one night at one location, but the story knew what it was doing. That’s another thing this journey taught me — I learned to trust the story. As Stephen King says, “The book knows how it wants to be written.” As difficult as it is for me to set aside the way I think things should go, everything works out better when I do.

It’s usually the “what ifs” that pull me in. What if there was this weird old-timey diner, perhaps some unexplained wormhole outside of normal space and time, where people had to consider how their past shaped them? What if they were forced to ponder how having a different past might create a different future? What if you had the chance to go back and change things, the way you sometimes wish you could? Would you take it? Would you actually be better off if you did? What if you realized you wouldn’t be who you are right now without your past, for better or worse? What if, to erase your regrets, you also had to erase you? Would it still be worth it? All these questions were swirling in my head as the story started to develop.

My heart gets really involved with my characters. It always has. It’s one of the things I love most about being a writer. I usually sit with my characters for months, getting to know them in my head, before I actually sit down to write the story. (Yes, I know how that sounds). They become my own allies and enemies in one way or another. So, by the time I was presenting my characters with these choices, I was begging them to pick the right thing. Most readers think writers have a lot of control over their stories. And maybe some writers do. Not me. I let my characters make their choices and live with the consequences. So while you’re wincing or peeking through your fingers or trying to calm your racing heart, I am too. It’s fun, right? Kind of.

No, I didn’t know what choices my characters would make. But I think they responded like many of us do — when the pressure is on, you learn who you really are. Somewhere deep inside us, we know it’s the truth that sets us free. So when we’re presented with the truth, painful as it may be, we know it’s what’s best for us. As one of my favorite lyrics from The Fray says, “sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”

I rarely write children in my stories. My genre isn’t usually a great fit for kids. And honestly, they are difficult for me to write. Jason was different. He showed up for me the same way he did for you – an awkward kid sitting in the back of a car working on his Rubik’s cube. It took him a while to trust me and even longer to really open up. I had no idea how central he would become to the story (Marcus did, though). Fun fact about that Rubik’s cube: I “lost” it a couple times in the story. I would write it in one place, forget, and then write it in another. One time I left it in the car and one time I misplaced it at the diner. Since the story was being published by chapter every day, there wasn’t time to go back and edit. Once it was out there, it was out there. So I’m thankful my editor and I caught the runaway cube before it confused readers!

I released Glory Days during the height of a worldwide pandemic. It wasn’t the way I thought I would introduce my writing to the world. But during that season, I saw so many artists using their gifts to encourage and give life. They inspired me to do the same. The everyday pacing was absolutely frantic and I won’t do that again. But it was fun. I think things were at a place where we needed a story about love vs fear. Actually, I needed a story about love vs fear. I needed to be reminded that no matter how loud fear gets, love is an unshakable anchor. I still need that reminder. Maybe you do too.

Happy reading!


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