The Road to "My Compass Home" Part One: Welcome Home

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

I've decided to begin a couple of blog series about the work that I'm putting into each series I'm currently working on.  I'll be discussing my various inspirations and motivations for them, so I hope you enjoy a peek into my eclectic style and planning!

Music As Inspiration

In Welcome Home, I originally wrote the last portion of the book very differently.  Rather than Spencer running to Lucy's house and telling her of the gang's plot to take Lucy lest he leave, Spencer circumvented that part and immediately ran away.  Certain he was making the right decision, he cut off contact with Lucy and waited until the authorities caught up with the gang and she'd be safe again.  This was actually the first chapter I wrote.

The first time I toyed with this plot, I was inspired by the band For King and Country's song Missing.    Because of this, the first scene I wrote was actually revolving around the idea that this guy owes everything to Lucy, he's changed, he's a different person...but when his past comes a-calling, will he run or will he face it?  As I mentioned earlier, I imagined him running away, destroying the mutual trust that he and Lucy had developed, and the kind of aftermath that they'd need to work through later.  Ultimately, I scrapped the scene  because Spencer's character development took a very different path and I wanted to prove that he actually had changed.  His character as an Army vet was sparked by a music video my brother showed me by a very unlikely source: the band Five Finger Death Punch.  While I'm not a regular listener to their music (or necessarily the heavy metal genre as a whole), this one, Wrong Side of Heaven, showed statistics about veterans the entire way through their music video.  (Warning: sensitive material in the video, such as rough gestures, violence, etc. and it also refers to God as a 'she' for some reason)  After I watched that video, I spent half the night  tossing and turning.  I felt like I needed to do something about it, but didn't know exactly how.  I had this half-cooked plot inspired by "Missing" worked out, but I didn't know why Spence would be homeless, nor why he should be distant or the type to have a bad past at all.  Basically, I was slapping together random ideas and hoping they'd stick.  A few days later in June 2015, the day after I graduated high school, it popped into my head: Spencer Clarkson would be a veteran.  My goodness, but it filled every single plot hole I had!  I actually wrote 90,000 words in 30 days of sleep-deprived determination and intended to release the trilogy as one thick volume, but I later shaved it down into three parts and then discarded the other, oh, 60,000 words or so.

In December 2017, the same band recently released a cover and video similar to the former, titled "Gone Away" and that sparked some of the content ideas that will be included in the second installment of the series: My Compass Home. Spencer being a veteran is an important part of the Faith, Hope, and Love collection, and though My Compass Home will splice some of the focus off to Levi (and the final installment will focus on Morgan) the Clarksons will still be a crucial part of the series, as there's still much to be told.  Spencer's struggles are far from over.  We'll see him delve deeper into his past in order to recover, and we'll also see him presented with multiple challenges.  We'll meet some old faces from his past and just maybe they'll be here to stay. 

Someone (who hasn't read Welcome Home) recently suggested to me that I shouldn't continue writing this series because I haven't gone through war, nor do I have PTSD.  However, both those facts are true because of the men and women overseas that have fought for our freedom (and still do) while sacrificing everything.  The least I can do is use the God-given talents I possess in order speak out on the more sensitive issues that nobody wants to talk about once these people come home.  If we limited ourselves to writing only what we have experienced in our own lives, fiction would not be in existence and a bunch of boring old memoirs would be the only reading material around. So if you agree with that, and you're looking forward to the long-overdue sequel to Welcome Home, let me know in the comments! 

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