After five days on the market, seven showings, and two offers, our house sold last night. If all goes as planned, we will close on the thirtieth of June.
The first offer had only just been presented and dealt with yesterday afternoon. Nancy McMinn, our real estate agent, left our house at 4:55; then in the evening, she called to say she had a second offer to present. I went outside and told Greg, who was mowing the back acre, that Nancy was on her way back to the house. I had scarcely returned indoors when the phone rang again. One of the co-owners of the house we hope to move into was calling to say that this house had been emptied and would soon be ready for us.
After years of talking and planning, and months of preparing our current house for the market, it seems that our move south will actually take place within a matter of weeks.
Now I am thinking in terms of last things. The CCA meeting next Tuesday will probably be the last one I attend while living in North Texas. I will not place another month’s worth of orders for free-range eggs at the co-op. I will soon be down to our last Sunday at Grace Bible Church, and my last walk with the dogs down the three-mile route where we have made our perambulations these many years.
Isn’t God’s timing perfect? If I’d had my way, our current house would have been placed on the market the seventh of November, the day after Greg’s job at Texas Instruments ended, and our family would have been moved by Christmas. But we would not have moved into Greg’s cousin’s house, because it was not available then. As we will not have to pay rent at that house, the delay could mean a significant cost savings, which should offset or exceed, the expense of our having continued to live in north Texas and pay our mortgage these past several months. Also, I see now that there are other considerations, having nothing to do with money, which made our prolonged presence here desirable, both for ourselves and for others; for God does not work on our behalf alone. Many other people are affected by the timing of our move, including the buyers of our current home, our friends and family, and the pest control guy who came yesterday morning for a routine treatment of brown recluse spiders and ended up finding termites. Might not the rightness of God’s timing include giving this small business owner some extra work? Of course it might and does. I am not quite so egocentric as to think God’s plan is all about me and mine.
My long, sprawling fantasy novels take years to complete and present a multitude of organizational challenges. A plot is composed of thousands of cause-and-effect units. The effects become causes in turn, setting off their own little pyramids of sequential events. Characters interact with each other and their environment, each one’s actions having to remain consistent with his temperament, personal history, motivation, and current state of mind. Events occurring during the course of the novel must demonstrate credible continuity with the chronicles of the various fictitious nations, and provide reasonable foreshadowing for what will happen in projected future volumes.
It’s impossible to get all this right the first time. Human error abounds; you find that certain events in a timeline simply won’t work, due to mutual exclusivity, improbability, or some other bugaboo. The actual writing of a novel is a process of discovery for the author no less than for the reader. A characters refuses to behave the way that the plot demands; why? You brood over the question for days or weeks and finally come to a revelation of the character’s previously unsuspected yearnings or phobias or whatever. Rage! Passion! Duty! Betrayal! Deceit! Fortitude! Loyalty! Love! These are the things which make the story matter–what might be called emotional content, which is at least as important as internal logic.
Editing is not for the faint of heart. Change one thing, and all the little dependencies are altered. You must cut and paste and delete and expand and rewrite again and again, often undoing what you did the day before, until you achieve the proper balance and consistency; and even then, as W. B. Yeats said (and I am paraphrasing wildly, as I can’t find the original quote), if you cannot make the whole thing seamless, and apparently the work of a moment, all is lost.
I like doing all that, for the same reason I like making quilts whose tops contain in excess of a thousand pieces. Crafting a thing of ordered complexity is challenging, stimulating, and even, in a way I can’t explain, restful. Also, it enables me to enter in a small way into the mind and heart of God, who creates and manages an authentic universe of infinitely greater complexity than my little invented ones, and who always gets it right the first time.
I see his hand at work in our lives in the same way I see the wind in the grasses, by its effects. He sovereignly arranges events, and at the same time, most mysteriously of all, he allows us to act, speak, or refrain from doing so, in ways that have meaningful consequences. He is a master storyteller, and he is turning the pages before my eyes.