Monday, August 26, 2013

From the One Ringing Bell Top Twenty: Jan Karon and Inspiration

Just recently had a new friend tell me she'd discovered Jan Karon's writing. It thrilled me so much, I had to give her Karon's Christmas story, Shepherds Abiding. I'll often have one of Karon's books on my desk. Makes me feel she's sitting with me, perhaps offering me advice or counsel. Here's another from the top twenty archives.

Been on the road a lot, so we’re listening to an audio version of Jan Karon’s In the Company of Others.

Love her. Love her writing.

In fact, I’d have to say she’s one of the top three writing influences in my life.

Her story, which I’ve cobbled together from numerous sources over the years, continues to inspire me. In mid-life, she left a prestigious job in the advertising world and moved to Blowing Rock, North Carolina to try her hand at fiction writing. Things did not happen as quickly as she thought they might (do they ever?), and as resources dwindled, she subsisted on chicken soup and used Vaseline for night cream.

The editor of the local newspaper, The Blowing Rocket, serially published her first fiction manuscript to good response, and this would became the New York Times Best Seller, At Home in Mitford.

I came to know about Jan Karon when a dear friend, Becky, gave me Karon’s book, A Light in the Window. I enjoyed it so much, I’ve since purchased and read every book she’s ever written.

During the awful period in my life when I suffered from posttraumatic stress followed by cancer, I wrote a long letter to Karon to tell her how much her writing meant to me. When the pain would almost swallow me, I’d go to Mitford and find much consolation.

You can imagine my surprise when a few weeks later, I received a handwritten note from her, thanking me for the letter. And in her P.S., she suggested that perhaps I should write a book. That postscript served to confirm something God was already speaking to my heart. So, I worked hard, and later sent her a couple of devotional manuscripts I’d put together.

A pastor’s wife approached me at one of our district meetings one evening some time later and said, “Oh, I saw you in Jan Karon’s newsletter.”

I immediately turned over my tea.

“What do you mean?” I asked trying to mop up my mess.

“I picked up her newsletter at the book store and you’re in it.”

I couldn’t wait to get home and find the newsletter on line. Sure enough, there I was, her congratulating me for getting the manuscripts written and believing Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

So, you see, though I may never meet her in person, she’s like family to me. Her note from years ago hangs over my desk, and when I grow discouraged, I think about her thin soup days, and shiny face, and I draw strength to continue on this writing journey.


Anonymous said...

Thank you! I was having typical Monday Morning preacher blues as I struggled to write something meaningful for next Sunday - without much success - when this appeared in my mailbox. I was encouraged as I was reminded of how much I love you and of those great trips listening Jan Karon tell us about life in Mitford. I'm now going to quit working and retire to Currahee where my favorite author tells great stories of love, faith and hope. Jerry

Beverly Varnado said...

So, anonymous turns out not to be so anonymous. Thanks for the encouragement, sweetie. Love you. And thanks for reading through the revised Currahee manuscript.

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