Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Places everyone

It's good to be back. I've been away for the last two posts and I'm finally ready to start writing again. Over the weekend I drove Will, my youngest child, to college and while I'm happy for him there's still a pit of sadness growing inside my gut. One that unfortunately started a little more than two weeks ago.

Before I get onto the subject of setting I want to take a moment to thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for our wonderful family friend, Josiah Berger. I feel as though I've lost my own son. Josiah was tragically killed in a car accident almost two weeks ago and I had to watch his dear family, who is so precious and dear to me, suffer through the agony of removing their beloved boy from life support.

Josiah died on his 19th birthday, the day before he was to leave for his first day of college. Another reason why this has been so difficult is that Josiah was my Will's very best friend and has been since they were eight years old. Here's a photo taken while vacationing with the Berger family several years ago. Josiah's on the left and that's Will on the right.

Josiah loved everyone. He was generous and kind and always a great beacon of light. People were naturally drawn to him. A natural-born leader, Josiah took a stand for righteousness even at his tender age. That's not to say he stayed away from fun or frolic. He participated in his own share of pranks - mostly alongside my son. When they were fourteen, Will and Josiah were caught climbing on the walls and roofs of the downtown buildings in our picturesque little town of Franklin, Tennessee. When asked by the cops what in the world they were doing, Josiah and Will told the police, "Pretending to be Spiderman, of course."

Around 11:00 p.m., Josiah was on his way to meet some friends. He was due to leave four days later for the University of Tennessee. It was rainy and foggy outside and he had chosen a windy river road as his route. Josiah hit a tree and even though there were airbags all around him, the brain injuries he suffered were ultimately fatal.

No parent should be faced with the decision to take their child off life support. It's unarguably every parent's worst nightmare. But miraculously Josiah made the decision for them. When he was 18, he signed his donor card - all on his own. His parents had no idea. So when it came time to have to make this horrendous decision, Josiah made it for them. His major organs saved five lives the next day at Vanderbilt Hospital and he ultimately affected 77 people by his selfless gift.

Last Sunday his father, who is also the pastor of our church, told our congregation that he could not wait to have the opportunity to put his ear upon the chest of the person with Josiah's perfectly healthy heart and hear it beating. He longs to share the stories of his son's tenderness and love for everyone around him. Josiah's father went on to assure us that the miracle we prayed for came, it just wasn't the one we wanted.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to digress from our weekly topic and share a little about someone who meant so much to me. Josiah is thanked in my book, Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter, as he was my head cheerleader for years, always taking the opportunity to encourage me and dream along side me about all my possibilities for success.

And as for this week's topic, I'm no expert - that's for sure. I'm one hundred percent with Tracy and Maureen. I'm more of a dialogue girl than a place setter. But I took some excellent advice about the setting of my own novel early on. Someone whom I trust in the literary world made the suggestion that by setting the novel in Memphis (my hometown) it would come across as the most believable. He went on to explain that since it's the place most passionate to me, the passion would come across naturally. "It'll show in your writing," he said, "if you write about a place you love." And since my research budget for this first novel was non-existent, that sounded right on to me.

And as I've said before, I really was an innkeeper in Vermont so when Leelee moves to the North, Maine would not have been the optimum locale to set the story. I think the lesson about setting, for me anyway, comes back to the old writer's adage . . . write what you know.


Tonya Kappes said...

I am so sad for you and your son! I have four boys of my own and also have their friends as my 'adoptive' sons. I too have their friends cheering me on to being a published author.
I am thinking of you during this hard time of saying goodbye to your son (going to college) and his friend (angel watching over you).

Lisa Patton said...

Thank you so much, Tonya! I can sense that you really do know exactly what I feel. Thank you so much for your thoughts and I'm sure you here this all the time, but stick with it girl! My boys watched me work toward publication for over 10 years!!

Maureen Lipinski said...

I'm so sorry for your loss but happy that you were comforted by the numerous prayers that were sent your way.

Lisa Patton said...

Thank you, Maureen!

Jillian Cantor said...

Lisa, I'm so sorry that you and your son lost such an important part of your lives. He sounds like an amazing person.

I agree with you on setting. I also tend to write what I know!