Sunday, May 17, 2009

Guest Blogger Rachel Druten

Please welcome today's guest blogger, Rachel Druten, who shares with us about herself and her writing.
Let the drunk be, Frank. You bring him home and he’ll ruin everything.” Belle Ranlett’s Christian charity had run out, especially when their two children, five-year-old Mabel Vivian and little Henry, would bear witness to the sot’s debauchery.

“It’s Christmas Eve, Belle, I can’t just leave him there.” Sadly, Frank shrugged into his overcoat.

“He’s my brother.”

The story goes that when Bud Ranlett saw his brother Frank enter the saloon, he turned, and in a drunken rage, pulled out his gun and shot him.

My grandmother, Mabel Vivian, can remember hiding behind the bedroom door, clinging to her little brother as the men laid her dying father on the bed, his old dog stretched out on the floor beside him.

The trial made headlines in the Sacramento Bee in the late eighteen hundreds. When sober, Bud Ranlett was a brilliant, handsome, gentle man. After his conviction and imprisonment he became the warden’s secretary. It is said the warden’s daughter fell in love with him. Years later Belle supported her brother-in-law’s early release but, sadly, Bud could not live with his guilt, took to drink again and committed suicide.

Writer’s block? Not with a family like mine. There are other stories, though not so sordid. I dare say there are some in every family… if one digs deep enough. Writer’s block? All one needs do is read the morning paper or watch the evening news for inspiration….or exasperation.

Deadline fatigue ! Now that’s another matter. I remember my friend Dianna Crawford, with whom I wrote my first book, asking, “Do you really know what you’re getting into?”

“Are you kidding.” I could think of nothing more fulfilling than being a published author……with deadlines. It is gratifying to find that what you write is interesting enough for folks to want to read. But that satisfaction, I discovered, comes at a cost: deadlines! If one is as compulsive as I, it means thinking about it twenty-four seven, missing family functions and friends' birthdays (to say nothing of your own), going without sleep, waking up in the middle of the night, jumping out of the shower to make notes…until the manuscript is completed, polished, polished again and yet again, sent to the editor, returned for rewrite or additions, or corrections, etc. etc. etc. Nevertheless, if you still want to become a writer and need someone to inspire you, look no further. If I can do it, anyone can.

I won’t tell you how old I was when I published my first book. Suffice it to say it was after my halfway mark. I firmly believe that anyone can acquire the skill of writing if he or she truly has the heart. Furthermore, I believe that any writing, including grant writing, newsletters, reports—all of which I’ve done—improves one’s skill. So, if you follow the three “T’s” eventually you too can become a published author. They are: TRUST (Faith), TENACITY, and TEAMWORK.

I absolutely could not have done it without the help of a team that I trusted, and listened to, and were as dedicated to my success as I: my writer’s group, Dianna, Sheila and Bobbe; my husband, Charles, and my editors, at Barbour, JoAnne and Debra.

There’s a fourth T: TIMING, but that’s in the hands of the Almighty.

For me, the process of writing is what absorbs me. What is important to me is the way I spend my days...not my money, which is fortunate since most writers are not rich, at least in terms of money.

In some ways, writing is like owning an art gallery, which I have also done. Folks think it’s glamorous, but it’s mostly pounding nails and cleaning toilets. Among my other incarnations are professional artist, (portraits, contemporary paintings, monotypes and mixed media) and, long ago, Christian youth director and professional model. I founded Tools For Tomorrow, an integrated arts program in writing, drama, music and art, serving over 1,300 elementary school children in the Coachella Valley. Currently I’m on the boards of various art and music organizations and involved in church fundraising projects.

I have a terrific son, Chad, and a lovely daughter, Noel, who is the consummate mother of two bright and beautiful children, granddaughter, Cameron, and grandson, Chayton.

JoAnne suggested a final note on my recent Heartsong release, Out of the Ashes, because of the interesting way I named one of the characters. Prior to the 2008 National Pen Women Awards Luncheon, there was a silent auction to raise money for scholarships for deserving young women writers in the Coachella Valley. A basket of my books was auctioned, along with the opportunity to be a secondary character in my next book. Jackie Lee Houston was the highest bidder by several hundred dollars. Jackie Lee is an icon in the Coachella Valley, owner of the local CBS television affiliate and a legendary philanthropist. I doubt there is a worthwhile charity in the valley which has not received her generous and loving support. It was with her enthusiastic permission that she became the local saloon owner in Out of the Ashes and is wooed by the rich and handsome rancher, Big Jim Houston…her husband in real life.

I wake up each morning filled with gratitude for the blessings of family, friends, freedom, health, and love, and the opportunity to learn, develop, and express the talents that God has given me.
And there you have it!

Thanks for sharing with us, Rachel!


Elaine said...

What a blessing this has been to me. I'm in my sixth decade, and while I've written articles and been published for several decades, I'm still working on my breakout novel. My sister has repeatedly told me I'm too old to continue trying to write a novel. So this has been a real upper for me. Bless you, Rachel! And bless you, Barbour Books!

CatMom said...

Thanks for sharing, Rachel! I'm sure your story has inspired many!
Blessings from Georgia,
Patti Jo Moore :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Thank you, Rachel. This was a fun blog post, and encouraging too. Glad to know I'm not the only one who obsesses about deadlines. And I really enjoyed hearing how you got the name for a secondary character. How fun!