One of the key things I realized when I started building the world and structuring the stories for my book series was that I needed to do a lot more reading. Books I had put off reading for one reason or another for a long time now seemed more important than ever to consume. My wording of the first draft was weaker than I had hoped, but I knew that it ultimately didn’t matter as it was just a first draft.
I made the decision to start reading more classic novels and fantasy books to accustom myself to better phrasing and techniques for describing the world and the action. For the world building itself, I decided to go way back and flesh out the main points of the history of the world. Since this world is an echo of the real world and it’s history, I decided to turn to the Bible for more inspiration about the religions I would include in my story. My wife Jodie got me a Cultural backgrounds study Bible and I started absorbing it as soon as I got my paws on it.
Sometime later, it was decided by some of my siblings that, in honor of my deceased brother Matthew, we would read the book of Matthew one chapter a day for the month of February. I jumped at the opportunity to join them not only for the reasons they suggested but also as a way to really nerd out about the time and place of the time of Jesus.
Here’s the thing. I’ve always drawn parallels with the things I see, read and hear, with the goings on in my own life. I like to think this makes me more sympathetic as a person, but really I think it has more to do with an over-active imagination than anything else. Either way, it’s something I just do all the time, and sometimes it helps me be a better person.
So, when Jodie suggested that February 2nd 2018 would equate to Matthew 2:18, she asked me what that verse said.
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
The verse refers to the author’s own taking and repurposing of existing text in scripture to make a case that Jesus was fulfilling a prophesy, so I think I’m not going too far on a leg to suggest there is some meaning there for me, too.
I read this verse and I couldn’t help but recall the tears shed by my mother, my father, my brothers and sisters, but of these the greatest parallel I see in this is with my mom. So often in her recovery from the grief the loss of Matt left in its wake, she would convey to one of my sisters or us how she felt in many ways, just like Rachel in this verse at the loss of her children.
I don’t know if it really adds any comfort for me to read this, but I suppose, at least, that it shows that these real, human feelings are things that have been true throughout the ages.
It’s something I need to make sure I understand as a writer as well. We are all so numb to killing on television and movies, but if a story is to be believed, the storyteller must make us as the audience understand the weight that a death can carry.
It’s an unfortunate fact that I know firsthand what it feels like to lose someone I love in such a tragic way, but it gives me a perspective that I think will help me in the crafting of the epic storytelling I intend to do.
Everybody is someone’s child or brother or parent or friend. Everyone’s life has an impact on others. Just like in real life, the same is true in a well-told story. We should do well to remember that in life above all else as we struggle to see our own self-worth in our lowest times.