No part of our lives is wasted. Thoughts on writing and research.

I had the hardest time picking a major in college.

Everything interested me.

(Well, except for math.)

Truly.

Everything.

Just ask my roomate from back in those days.

From medicine to literature, political science to genetics, journalism to plant biology…there is so much wonder in the world…and so much to wonder at…how could I possibly choose just one thing to focus on for the rest of my life?

While I used to feel inadequate about my indecisiveness, I’m finally realizing I’m wired this way for a reason, and that writing novels is the ultimate and wonderful culmination of all my passions.

When I write a story, I can be whoever, wherever, and whenever I want

I can live on a pecan farm in Alabama (How Sweet the Sound). I can be a nationally renowned jewelry artist in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or South Haven, Michigan, or a Jewish boy escaping Eastern Europe in 1904 (Then Sings My Soul). I can be a dairy farmer or a pastor and live in a small town (Lead Me Home).

And all of that takes research.

Glorious, wonderful research in libraries and online, in documentaries and journals, and even in my own back yard.

I have books on pecan farming and I’ve spent hours watching pecan farmers on YouTube. 

I have binders full of lapidary design and stacks of books on rocks and minerals.

I’ve spent hours at my cousin’s dairy farm and I even hauled my family north to South Haven, Michigan one spring break when they’d have much preferred to go south.

And now I’m at it again.

I can’t say a whole lot about the current novel I’m working on, but here’s a stack of some of the reference books I’m using. The fiction ones you see are there not because of the subject, but because I’m studying those authors’ writing styles. You’ll also notice books on the writing craft, wildlife, and more.


Last week I even went on a wonderful field trip to spend a couple of hours interviewing a woman who is a wildlife rehabilitator. (So much fun!!!)

I hope you’ll be able to see the fruits of my current research sometime in 2018. Until then, I’ll share bits and pieces like this.

Mostly, I wanted to encourage you today to know that even though some seasons of our lives don’t make sense, no parts are wasted. Not even the painful parts. 

I agree with Carrie Fisher, who said to, “take your broken heart, and make it into art.”

All things work together, after all. 

That truth is more evident the more I learn, whether studying the life cycle of a pecan or the intricacies of a gemstone; the incredible instincts of rabbits and squirrels to care for their young; the way monarchs migrate for miles and across generations; the birds of prey and ducks who mate for life; and the ability of nature to heal itself. 

We live in a pretty amazing world, don’t we?

So, this is a glimpse into my writing life and what I’m working on at the start of 2017. 

It’s great fun.

It’s a lot of hard work.

And most of all–best of all–the results are a gift to you, dear readers. 

What about you?

What are you working on this year?

If you are a writer, do you like research? Why or why not?

5 thoughts on “No part of our lives is wasted. Thoughts on writing and research.

  1. Amy, thank you. I needed to hear this today. I have been working and waiting, and waiting, and waiting for something in my professional life that just a couple of days ago didn’t work out yet again. It’s been confusing and frustrating, and I’ve truly been feeling like years have been wasted and like a fool for dreaming about it for all these years. My head knows that nothing is wasted, but my heart needed to be reminded. I’m grateful for your wise words!

  2. Your blog reminds me of the verse, “God’s word does not return to Him void.” I haven’t quoted it correctly, but it says that what God sets out to accomplish will be done, not in the way we expect. I spent months on a proposal and sample chapters to pitch to some editors, and it was rejected. Back to square one. Was my time wasted? Some would say yes, but we learn and grow through the process.

    1. Belated thanks for this, Jane. I love that verse, and it’s been on my heart a lot lately as I am in the midst of launching my young adult children into the real world. I had at least three dozen rejections. Don’t give up!

  3. Hi Amy, love this. I was intrigued by your research books. I have read some of the fiction ones. I work for a conservation agency in my state and with many Wildlife and Research Biologists. While my role there is an administrative one, I always tell people I don’t know any other office you can come in and see a black bear in the lab! The people are fantastic to work with. Good luck on your research. As far as my writing life is concerned. I’ve been a closet storyteller most of my life and writing seriously since about 2009. I just had my third rejection for a novel I received three requests from agents at a pitch session. This isn’t my first rejection of a novel, but the third for this one. So, I took a step back and asked God to take away my desire to write if it truly isn’t what His purpose is for me. Well He hasn’t taken away the desire to write, but I seem to have come to a standstill. As much as my heart aches to put something on the page, I stare at the screen and sift through the various stories I have in progress, then get up and walk away. The last thing I want to do is waste any more of my God-given purpose on something I’m not supposed to do.

    1. Hi Linda and thank you for sharing your journey. If it makes you feel better, I had about 26 agent rejections and at least a dozen rejections from publishing houses after that. My favorite encouragement is to never give up. If you feel the tug to tell stories, then you have a gift. His timing is perfect. And nothing is a waste. Blessings on your writing!

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