Friday, March 16, 2018

Rediscovering The Joy

Hi everyone, Winnie Griggs here. 
I normally post on craft-related topics here at Seekerville, but today I'm focusing on a different aspect of the writing life. I hope you will indulge me as I do a bit of personal introspection.

As many of you know, Love Inspired is closing their historical line effective this June. And while I am sad about this for a number of reasons, I’ve also come to look at it as an opportunity of sorts.  By that I mean it has given me a writing time out, a chance to slow down and evaluate where I am in my writing career and try to figure out where I really want to go from here.

I’ve been pondering this for the past six months or so and have reached some rather surprising conclusions.  The ideas I have for new stories, the ones that excite me the most, are all contemporaries – a genre I never thought I’d want to dive fully into this way. And I’m not just talking one book, but three separate multi-book series that I just can’t wait to bring to life.



While I’m having my agent shop these to traditional publishers, however, I also realized that I want to test the indie waters as well. So, as a first step to that end, I pulled out one of my earlier releases that I have reacquired the rights to. Something More was my second published book and was released by Dorchester, a secular publisher, in 2001. Dorchester no longer exists and this book was never released digitally so unless you stumble on it in a used book store you can’t find it any longer. And since I really do love this story I thought it deserved a new life.

Before I could put it up, however, I knew it would need some revision.  After all, that book was written over 17 years ago and I have hopefully learned a thing or two since then.

But a strange thing happened when I started reading the original manuscript. I began to see something of the writer I was at the beginning of my career. Yes, I am finding minor problem areas in both plot and craft that I need to revise, but I am also finding glimmers of the exuberant joy and freedom I found in the writing of my early work, before I let the deadlines and expectations of my publishing house editors turn writing into a job. Which is not to say I haven’t enjoyed writing my subsequent work. I have truly loved every book I’ve written and there are many, many more I’m itching to write.




But I look back on that joyful, fearless (story-wise at least)  writer I was at the beginning and wonder where she went. I’m hopeful that, as I dig deeper into the revisions I’m doing on this book and take the time to develop new stories I don’t yet have contracts for, that I will find her again.

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So what about you? Have you ever faced a fork in the road that had you re-evaluating the course you were on?  Were you able to reinvent yourself to meet the new challenges?


80 comments:

  1. Hi Winnie:

    I've always felt your best book was "The Heart's Song" -- a Contemporary so well crafted that I can still feel today how I felt just after reading it. I've been waiting from more contemporary inspiration from your pen for years. I've never encountered more secondary characters that were so memorable and unique in one story. I just knew that this was the first book in a long series like the Mule Hollow or Dry Creek books. Perhaps my long wait is over! 

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    1. Awwwww, thanks Vince! The Heart's Song had a special place in my heart and at one time I thought I might build a series around it, following the other members of the handbell choir. But my editor was more interested in getting historicals from me (which I also loved) so I let it drop. Perhaps I will revisit that setting again in the future.

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  2. Winnie, I am so excited to read this. I've always believed that when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window... and then we decide if we're brave enough or strong enough to make the climb! I will love seeing this come to fruition!!! I can't wait, you know what a fan I am of your work. Nobody does it better.

    With lines closing and bookstores folding and a new paradigm taking over the industry, most writers will have to re-organize or re-strategize their portfolios. I love that we have indie options now. Aren't we blessed?

    Happy dancing for you because this sounds crazy exciting and not one bit crazy. Go you!!!!

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    1. Thanks Ruthy! Yes, I agree that re-strategizing, re-inventing and pivoting are skills we all need to sharpen if we want to survive in this business. But while it is a bit scary at times, it is also exciting and invigorating too.

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  3. Replies
    1. As is breakfast tea and cinnamon rolls :)

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    2. Cinnamon rolls! I have to get outside at some point and start doing something physical again. My body is KNOWING I've been writing non-stop for three months. It's showing the difference, LOL! But I'll take a cinnamon roll!

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  4. I love that about the joy and freedom of your early writing. I'm a fellow displaced LIH author (Mollie Campbell) and over the last few months, I've played around with short stories and different genres and all of that helped me find new excitement in my writing AND get an idea what path to head down next. I think those sudden turning points are the perfect time to try that thing you always thought about but weren't sure you could do :)

    I can't wait to see what comes next for you!

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    1. Abbey, I'm glad to hear you're finding new excitement as well! You're right about the turning points being an opportunity to try new things.

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    2. Hi Abbey! Glad to hear you've got such a positive outlook for tackling the closing of LIH. Sometimes what seems like road blocks are merely guideposts to move you along to a more fulfilling path.

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  5. I'm actually sitting at a crossroads right now regarding my day job. I'm not sure the direction that God is leading, but I'm hoping that writing will be part of it. This post is a great encouragement--and very timely for me. Thank you!

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    1. Glynis, I pray you find clear direction! I know how it feels to wish God would put up a street sign with arrows. :)

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    2. I know! I've said before that I don't know why God stopped using burning bushes LOL. Now THAT would get my attention :)

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    3. Hi Glynis. I had a day job for 35 years before I retired so I know some of the challenges that can bring to your life. I'm so glad you found some encouragement in my post and pray you find peace and joy in whatever the future holds

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    4. Oh Missy, road signs with arrows (and flashing lights!) would be fabulous!!

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    5. Winnie and Margaret Daley were two of my role models for how to jump on board this career while working. THEY DID IT SO WELL.... I had to follow them. Winnie, thank you for the good example!

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    6. Thanks Ruthy, I'm glad it at least looked that way from the outside :)

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  6. Winnie, I can relate. I started out writing historicals and thought that's where I would stay. But over a year ago the Lord gave me an idea for a contemporary series, and wouldn't let go. Finished the first book, am shopping it around, and finished a draft of the second. Love these character, have hope for them, believe in them and what God wants to do in their lives. I think I've got something here, something I never thought I'd have. So yeah, we need to be open.
    Speaking of forks in the road...I have a procedural question. I was going to wait on this, but, Winnie, you left the door wide open. Question is: Does an e-book (with a traditional publisher) count for Sailing Off The Island? Because I was offered a contract with Pelican/White Rose and I'm mailing out the contract today. Also, and an even more piddling detail: are we Off The Island when we sign the contract, or when the book is finally published?
    Please advise.
    Kathy Bailey
    At fork in road in NH

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    1. Kathy!! Congratulations!! Yes, you just sailed off the island!! I say it's when you sign the contract. :) :) Woo hoo!!

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    2. KB, I knew you were so close. Congrats! Huge congrats!!! Yes, you've officially left the island with the contract!

      I know you're rejoicing. All your hard work has come to fruition. God is good!

      Hugs!

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    3. Kathy, isn't it awesome (and a bit scary) when you feel those gentle nudgings from the Lord to try something outside your comfort zone? Your joy and exuberance shines through in your words and I'm so happy for you. Congratulations too on your sale - cause for celebration indeed!!

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    4. Congratulations, Kathy! What wonderful news!

      Happy Dancing in the Black Hills!!!

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    5. AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      KayBee I AM SO THRILLED FOR YOU!!!
      WAY TO GO
      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      AND I SEE BELOW IT'S THE OREGON TRAIL BOOK!!!!
      I WILL READ IT AS SOON AS I CAN GET MY HANDS ON IT!!!!!
      AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    6. Hugh Congratulations, KayBee!!!!

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    7. Wonderful news! So excited for you! Can't wait to read it!
      Nancy C

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    8. OH MY STARS!!!! KATHY BAILEY, KAYBEE, KATH, MRS. BAILEY, ANY NAME YOU WANT!!!! I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU, STANDING UP AND CHEERING KIND OF HAPPY! WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

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    9. Congratulation, Kathy!!! So happy for you!!

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  7. BTW, the Pelican book is the first in my Oregon Trail series, the one Mary Connealy judged in a contest and came out from behind her judge's mask to encourage me, thus my ending up as a Villager in the first place.
    Best,
    KB

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    1. Awww, so fun to hear Mary helped bring you here with us!

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    2. KAYBEE!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO GET THIS!!!!!!!!!!

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    3. Mare, technically you won't "get your hands on it" because it's an e-book, but I will tell you how to access it.
      This is going to be so fun!

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  8. Off to brunch with my crit partner, may be back later.
    KB

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  9. Winnie, what a beautiful thing to find that early exuberance! I hope you can rediscover that joy as your write new stories. It's wonderful that you have so many new ideas!

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  10. Hi Winnie. I’m at a crossroad myself, trying to re-evaluate why I do what I do as the organization that I’m working for re-structures itself. My heart feels at peace with whatever may happen but my mind is struggling with the uncertainties. And, yes, I would love to recapture that joy regarding the work that I’m called to do.

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    1. MJSH, I think you and I are in the same boat. Blessings to you as you discover the right path for you!

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    2. Crossroads, Road blocks, Forks in the road - they're all difficult to deal with, but they can also be doorways to new opportunities for us as well. I'm so happy that you have found a way to be at peace with 'what may come', despite your uncertainties.

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  11. Hi Winnie - as an as yet unpublished writer of historical romance, I was also sad to see LIH go away. After I was done feeling sorry for myself because this avenue to publication was now blocked, I also started writing a contemporary. I'm having fun with it, but I can also see that I don't have the craft down nearly as well. There are aspects of writing historical I have studied and mastered that just don't apply in contemporary. Vice-versa, I find myself in need of more instruction and learning to write contemporary. All that said, it is the process I enjoy, not so much the end result. I can tell by your post you understand all this. It sounds like Greek when I try to explain it to a non-writer friend. Thanks for sharing your heart and wishing you all the best as you navigate the unfamiliar roads ahead.

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    1. Hi Cindy. You're so right about the differences between historicals and contemporaries, but I think it has more to do with voice and structure than craft. On the other hand, I find I'm constantly in search of ways to improve my craft, no matter what I write. Good luck with your writing pursuits!

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    2. Cindy, write what you love.... and then challenge yourself to expand. We practice with what we love, love, love... and then we stretch our wings with what we'd like to try. I think you'd be great with either genre. Talent is talent, sweet thing!

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  12. Winnie!
    So thrilled to learn about your new ideas and new genre. Often something that seems difficult to accept can lead us down a new path...an exciting path filled with great promise. It's that "when a door closes, God opens a window," or however, the phrase goes.

    At times, I long to write "outside the box," so to speak, yet I love writing for LIS. It's where I've "cut my teeth" and continue to learn the craft. I keep my eyes on Jesus. He leads. I follow. But I'm also open to change, if that's His will.

    Keep us posted on your new endeavors! I love your stories...and your blog posts!

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    1. Thanks Debby. Yes, sometime what we need is a good swift kick to get us moving. For the last year or so I felt that perhaps I needed to spread my wings a bit, but I kept putting it off until 'someday'. Then abruptly someday arrived and I had no choice.

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  13. Winnie, good for you! New direction and reinvention can be fun!

    Can't wait to see what the future holds in store for you!

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    1. Thanks Cynthia! I find it has a lot to do with what attitude you bring to the table. You can chose to be angry and pouty, looking back. Or you can get excited and optimistic, looking forward.

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  14. Hi Winnie! From one displaced author to another, I'm so glad you've found an avenue!

    When the announcement about LIH was made last year, that door closing helped me make some career decisions, too. But so far, my decisions are taking me deeper into historicals... But every once in a while, a contemporary story idea pops up in my head. Who knows where God will lead in the future?

    And you're right - to advance our careers and to keep fulfilling our call, we need to be open to God's nudges. Sometimes that means taking the road we never thought we would travel. :-)

    Great post! Thank you!

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    1. Amen! Change is usually a bit (or a lot!) scary, whether it is positive or negative. But without change we would stagnate.
      I'm so happy to hear you have approached this with such a positive attitude and with the faith that God will use this circumstance to enhance His purpose in you.

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    2. Hey, I just sent off an endorsement for a WONDERFUL JAN DREXLER book! Jan, I loved "A Distant Thunder" and your talent just shines!

      Winnie, I love your words... without change we would stagnate.

      Stagnant water and food tends to deteriorate fairly quickly. So I love that we're keepin' on, keepin' on!!!

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  15. Winnie, I love this. Yes, we have all gotten better as we keep writing and learning and refining. But some of those old books, before we learned all the 'rules'...had a real freedom to them.
    All over the place in such a fun way.

    I've been revising old, unpublished books and I've found an utter lack of CELL PHONES a problem. Now that you can just call for help from ANYWHERE, it really is a different world. It's much harder to cast your heroine into peril and force her to run for her life..usually with a man on hand of course.

    No problem with that in historicals of course.
    I can't wait to see what you're working on! YAY!

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    1. LOL, no I don't have any changing technology issues to deal with in my books, just newbie things like overly alpha heroes and conflict that needs strengthening.

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  16. Hi Winnie,
    Wishing you the best as you continue writing! Is the Heart's Song available in E form?? I would love to read it!

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    1. Thanks Jackie! And it is supposed to be available in ebook form, but I just checked and it's not there. I'll have to touch base with the publisher to see what's going on. In the meantime, if you'd like a paperback, I still have a few - contact me via my website.

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  17. BTW, I didn't technically get "the call." Pelican took a "full" of the Trail story about a year ago. Their editor asked me to cut 20,000 words and several points of view, which I did in hopeful revise-and-resubmit fashion. She then asked for another rewrite -- she had actually fallen in love with a couple of my secondary characters, who had the nerve to die on the Trail, and she asked me if there was any way we could NOT kill them off. So the teenage boy lost in the river crossing actually floated downstream, came to land, lived for a while with the Indians and finally was able to rejoin the wagon train. And his father, who originally died in the cholera attack, lived but was permanently blinded. Didn't mind letting them live because the bones of the story remained the same. Sent off the second revision and didn't hear, didn't hear, didn't hear. So, in a first-of-the-year goal to Stay On Top of Things, I sent a short e-mail, "how are we doing on this?" The editor wrote back, "Didn't you receive the contract packet?" Um, no. It must have fallen through the cracks somewhere, my computer is temperamental at times. So apparently they offered me a contract and I didn't even know it. Unfortunately, typical in the Kathy-verse. So they resent, I studied contracts, read and signed. Thanks for all your good wishes. Will let you know more as this plays out.
    KB

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    1. Congratulations, Kaybee!! That's exciting! So glad you checked back in with them. :-)

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    2. What a "call" story, KB. How long between when they sent the first contract and when you contacted them?

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    3. Kathy, it's a wacky way to get "the call" but it is THE CALL nonetheless!! I'm so excited for you! I'll add the celebration to our Weekend Edition. :)

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    4. What a winding road you were on - but definitely worth persevering to see it through!

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    5. Wow, Kathy, so glad you followed up! Congrats! :)

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    6. Kathy!!! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! So panicky and excited and thrilled! I'm so glad you were brave. We are always told be be patient, NOT pester them. WAIT!!!

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    7. I love your call story Kaybee!

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  18. Winnie, this is such a timely post for me -- and inspiring. Thank you!
    Nancy C (Chill'N)

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    1. You're quite welcome Nancy - glad it spoke to you!

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  19. A fork in the road? Reinventing myself? Yes, and yes. Oh, but you were talking about professionally. :-) Well, I'm hoping to release my first indie book later this year and write two more books for that series and indie pub those too. I'm excited about that, and it's in a new time period. Instead of writing in Europe in either Medieval times or Regency, I'll be in 1880's Alabama. It's quite different, but still romance. :-)
    Winnie, it's so interesting that you read your early novel and thought it was rather fearless. I kind of feel like I was a little more fearless when I started out. And I worry about getting "stale." I am planning a blog post pretty soon about that, talking about writing with confidence. This give me another angle on the subject. Thanks!

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    1. Forgot to say, it's so exciting that you're feeling some of that old freedom and fearlessness, jumping into a new genre and new ideas! Sounds like you've got LOTS of new ideas! That is awesome!!! I'm excited for you.

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    2. Hi Melanie. It sounds like we may be in similar places in our writing careers :) Good luck on your first foray into indie publishing AND with your new setting.

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    3. Melanie, this is exciting! My paternal grandmother was born in Mobile in "eighteen and eighty." That was her phrasing. I've heard stories--can't wait to read yours.

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  20. Winnie, I love this. You're channeling your inner Tigger to become fearless! ;)

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    1. LOL, I've always considered myself more of a Piglet, but I love Tigger too! :)

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  21. Thanks for such an interesting post, Winnie! I'm learning something new every day and loving it. Wishing you all the best with the contemporary series - looking forward to reading them!

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    1. Thanks Laura! And we could all emulate you - trying to learn something new every day is a good way to keep the writing fresh and exciting!!

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  22. Winnie I love that God has already put some amazing new ideas in your heart. I will be praying for you.
    Career wise my road has changed often. I thought I was at my last place to work until I felt it was time to pray for a new direction. Two years after those prayers, we moved more than half way across the country, but I know it is all in His plan. I look forward to what is next. Thank you for sharing your encouraging outlook!

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    1. Kelly, isn't it amazing how God can work in our lives.
      I think back to when I was considering which college to attend - a set of really off the wall circumstances led me enroll in a college that hadn't even really on my radar. It was over 300 miles from home and I didn't know anyone else going there so I was a bit apprehensive. But I went anyway and it was there that I met my future husband - we've been very happily married for over 42 years now.

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  23. Winnie this is wonderful. I am sorry that the LIH line is closing, but I LOVE that you are rediscovering the JOY of writing, and that you have so many ideas already. May God bless you on this new path.

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  24. Ah, Winnie, you are speaking right to my heart. I remember that early joy, the finger-painting the vivid stories in my head exuberance that I started with in my writing career, and I've been trying to find that again. This time between contracts seems like a good time to go searching. :)

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    1. Oh Erica, I love that phrase 'finger-painting the vivid stories in my head'. Such a great visual.

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