When I was twelve I was sick in bed with mumps, listening to a Billy Graham radio broadcast about many souls dying in a South American country without a single word about Christ. I rolled over with tears and begged God to save some of those lives even before I grew up and - even then I knew I couldn't reach everyone in my lifetime.
I drifted off into a vivid dream in which I was held back from becoming a missionary by health problems, still, somehow I had produced a book, and wherever it went around the world, it turned people to faith in Christ.
Later I woke feeling refreshed and excited as if I'd seen a vision. Only I knew visionaries were not well-thought of in our church and community. I was afraid to tell anyone my dream for fear they'd laugh at me or persuade me that it was nothing but that colourful imagination of mine, running away with me again. I did look for an opportunity to confide in my favourite uncle, but it didn't present itself. I tried to talk to a woman from church, but she thought I was eager to be a Bible-translator and I didn't know how to correct her so I clammed up
It was as if I had a secret mission and purpose in life after that, and the more I kept it to myself, the more it grew. Soon I decided I should start practicing and working on that wonderful book. I got a few extra black covered scribblers, and tried writing by moonlight by the window one night. The clouds came and the moon didn't shine every night, and I just got far too sleepy. I went down into the cellar to write the story that was forming in my imagination, using Dad's trouble-light, then hiding my scribblers in an old tin bread box between the the cellar wall and the foundation. Eventually, I decided that I had not had enough true life experiences yet. I'd have to wait until I'd finished high school, had a job and was living on my own.
That day came after I graduated in 1967 and got a job as a telephone operator in Saskatoon. The more I learned about city life and people, the more my fertile mind could cook up plots and characters. At first I longed for them to come true, but one day the insight came that then I'd never have time to write them.
I haunted the public library for books on writing, bought my first manual typewriter and taught myself to type. The fact that I had shift-work came to be an advantage as most of my friends were at university studying to be teachers. I traded shifts with operators who wanted days but not the evening and night shifts. This meant I was at home writing while my friends were in university. When they were home, I was at work.
After six re-writes of my novel I'd learned so much I thought I'd arrived! But there were no publishers in the yellow pages, so I'd have to go east to the big cities where they were. Fortunately, I had a single aunt living in London, Ontario. After much prayer, I decided to quit my job and go live with her until I landed my big contract.
It took me four days of driving there with my '68 Nova packed full of all my possessions, and it was great fun exploring and learning many new things from Aunt Jean. However, I had a rude awakening as I discovered that my manuscript did not impress the ones I sent it to. I ran out of money and had to get a job to live... (There are a lot of stories in that twelve year segment of my life).
In brief, when I prayed and humbly told the Lord I was ready to take whatever He thought was the perfect job for me, He led me through a temporary office agency, to Philips Electronics, where I ended up being the receptionist and switchboard operator for the rest of my years in London. But at the same time, every year by January 1, I was drawn back to my hidden manuscript. I'd take another look and realize that it was a worthy project. After having left it alone a few months I could always see ways to improve it. So I'd tackle it again, with long four hour evenings, and every year about the end of May I'd have it done, and my anticipation would build that this summer it would be published!
I'd become very active in the church Jean attended until she moved away, and my many involvements ate into my writing time, and gave me many friends. The last three years I rented a lovely old house by the Thames, and boarded Christian college girls. Sometimes I joked about being like a cat with nine lives, and living them all at once. But most friends had no idea that I was squeezing another secret life in besides all the evenings I was at church, mentoring my Pioneer Girls, or preparing crafts, or picking up after my college girls (boarders).
One of the nice things about my Philips job was that I had time to spend hours in conversational prayer with the Lord, and to study my Bible and read all the books I wanted. Gradually, the Lord prepared me to be willing to go home to look after my aged parents. I resisted at first, but saw His better wisdom and decided to give up all I had in London, and move home, with the Lord's promise ringing in my heart that back in boring ol' Hague, I'd finally have time to write full-time. He would flood my soul with joy. In return, I vowed not to keep it a secret any longer. That whole move is a book in and of itself!
When I left London I could not see any way to improve the novel any more. So I told the Lord that I would hide it until He made me work on it again. Instead I would throw myself into my caregiver role, and take odd jobs, and I'd learn to freelance short stories and articles, to give me more polish and perhaps even a name and reputation as a writer. The manuscript with all it's revised versions went into a deacon's bench or wooden box for blankets that sat in my basement room. For eight years I didn't touch it. Never took a peek.
Then I began to crave to re-do it and this time - let all conventional plots and styles be hanged - I wanted to write it so it would appeal to ME. If I were to find the perfect book in a store to win my praise, what would it be like? Well, it would be unashamedly Christian, it would be deeper than a fluffy romance, and it would be filled with transformed lives!
About that same time my faithful old Underwood typewriter died. Nobody could make the letters type on a straight line any more. By that time, mind you, it had written and produced some family history books, also doing all the pages on Gestetner stencils so I could self-publish them. What's more, I was in the middle of a major translation job of my great-grandmother's stepmother's journals. I began a prayer campaign for a used computer. This I confided to my large list of penpals, and a number began to send gifts towards this goal. Some urged me to get a new computer. Gradually I got used to the idea that even I, yes, this church mouse, might learn how to use a computer.
It took me a year to raise $1000 in 1991, but it was a great day when I brought home my first new, albeit no-name bargain 286 computer. Aside from a one-hour lesson from the dealer, I taught myself, and in a few months that translation job was wrapped up, indexed and sent to the cousin who'd promised to publish it. Eagerly I pulled up the old novel and began to key it in, re-writing as I went. Oh, the improvements! Finally my fingers could fly about as fast as my nimble mind! Now I could be prolific at last!
But Mom, ever a sickly woman, got sicker. Instead of having hours to myself, I now had to stay by her side all day. Aside from my long-hand scribbling in my journal binder, ever with me, my writing all had to come to a halt in 1997. Finally after much drawn-out suffering, Mom died November 10, 1997.
Dad is still able to putter and work in the garden and his workshop, though socially getting to be more a boy all the time. Still, liberation came for me in that as long as I do the meals and cleaning, and chauffeur Dad, I can have all the rest of the hours of the day. A perfect writer's life.
Publication, which had always seemed so out-of-reach, suddenly came much closer as I read about the internet and how one could market from a website, selling things like books. I was ready and willing to self-publish this book, as I knew other publishers would not take a risk on something so out of their categories. I had the determination and time to build from the bottom up. Only, I needed a bigger and better computer first.
The summer of 1998 I took Dad on a holiday to visit relatives all the way to B.C. and back, and then into southern Manitoba. I also took along batches of my family history book, Grandpa's Stories which covered Dad's side of the family tree. In January of 1999 enough funds were scratched together to buy a new Pentium III, and go online.
With gusto I tackled the process of learning to use Windows, email, and design my own web sites, make e-books, and here we are at last. Ruthe's Secret Roses is finally available and for sale to the public! Yes, even in print as of March 11, 2002!. This is a small step, but I'm grateful to have got this far, and trust the rest will come. Eventually the sequels will roll out too!
In fact, some fans have begged for the next adventures of Ruthe, so I've begun writing that book. I hope to have the first draft done by the end of 2005.
What a saga, eh?
And yes, this book WILL affect you if you read it!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One
Privacy Promises ~~
Ruthe's Secret Roses (official site)
©2001-2022 Ruth Marlene Friesen
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada