Thursday, October 29, 2009
Of Course God Laughed. I Told Him My Plan, by Walt Mussell
I’d like to thank Tina and the rest of Seekerville for having me as a guest blogger today. I’d hoped when I made an appearance here, it would be with my inspirational manuscript sold. (Isn’t naiveté wonderful?) When I do make that first sale, I hope you’ll have me back to celebrate and raffle off free copies. (And speaking of raffles, please read to the end for the prize that will go to one commenter.)
However, as I look forward to that one day of being published, I do sometimes wonder how I got here in the first place. Not to writing. Not to Seekerville. Not to being a RWA member.
I wonder about how I started writing inspirational fiction.
When I began writing a few years ago, my focus was always personal essays on marriage, family, and parenting. I penned a humorous (in my opinion anyway) nonfiction manuscript on marriage from the male POV, targeted to women, and pursued getting that published. In order to build a platform for myself, I began submitting articles to parenting and education magazines. I’ve now earned several publishing credits. I also maintain two blogs. One is called Daddy Needs Decaf, which I do for Atlanta Parent magazine. The other one, Walt’s Place , is my own and deals with the topic my wife considers the greatest love of my life…Auburn football. For several years, I stayed on plan.
Then, in the summer of 2008, I discovered that God may have had a different idea.
That summer, my family and I traveled to Japan to visit friends and relatives. (I spent four years in Japan in the early 90s, meeting my wife there. We visit Japan when we can.) When we go, we do as much touring as possible, as my wife and I want our sons to have an appreciation for that part of their heritage.
On the last trip, we visited Himeji Castle.
Himeji Castle is a six-story structure built to resemble a white heron in flight. It served as the backdrop to such movies as You Only Live Twice and The Last Samurai. It is the finest representation of the Japanese style of castle building and one of the few original castles left in the country.
One feature of many Japanese castles is the circular tiles along the roof edge. The tiles, called “devil’s tiles,” are there to ward against tsunamis, fires, typhoons, etc. Himeji Castle, though, has one special tile: One that bears the impression of a cross.
(Citation: Guide to World Cultural Heritage Site “Himeji Castle)
(Citation.: Maru-Jan by Signal Talk)
The reason it’s special…it shouldn’t be there.
This cross appeared in the late 16th century. The mid-1500s to the mid-1600s are referred to as the Christian century in Japan. Christianity arrived in Japan in the 1540s and flourished for around forty years before the religion was declared illegal in 1587. The Japanese government spent the next sixty years, impoverishing and martyring Christians in an effort to stamp out the religion.
So, at the beginning of a persecution, a cross appears mysteriously at a prominent castle.
And though the blogosphere offers a solution, the official word is that the cross’s origin is unknown. Through a period in which Christians are being killed in ways that would make Nero seem tame, this stone cross lasted through it all. The idea of writing a Japan-based novel was brewing inside me and I had several historical threads in my head. Somehow, though, I knew I wanted to introduce readers to this cross.
The cross isn’t the only secreted object from those days. Christians disguised figurines of Mary to look like a female Bodhisattva.
They also carved crosses into the backs of stone statues.
( Citation: Cross in Stone )
These items inspired many people over the years. And now I’ve been added to the list.
I hope you enjoyed the history. I also hope it wasn’t too heavy.
As for the prize for today’s post, I was at M&M and Missy Tippens was kind enough to sign a copy of her latest book, His Forever Love. One lucky commenter will win the signed copy.
If you have a chance, please visit me at my blogs. And to all of Seekerville, thanks again for having me.