By Nicole Findlay -
Ask children what they want to be when they grow up. Watch their eyes beam as they answer. We smile and encourage them. But do we genuinely believe their dreams will come true?
As a little girl, Deb Elkink wanted to be a novelist. At age nine, she published a poem in her school yearbook. Her teachers recognized her passion and encouraged her literary pursuits.
Years passed, Deb grew up. She visited Paris and was captivated by a sculpture called Les Trois Graces (The Three Graces). She thought it would be a great icon for a novel. Her childhood dreams reignited. She started outlining some ideas. But life happened and she shelved her dream.
After earning a MA in Theology, Deb started editing PhD dissertations and journal articles. She also wrote for the Court and Report Communique, a national publication by the Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada. The ideas for her novel were tucked away but the writer inside her blossomed.
Deb longed to be a novelist but she did not feel she was ready. She freelanced, writing short stories and articles. She also attended a Christian writers’ conference called God Uses Ink (now known as Write! Canada). She’d heard a wonderful speaker emphasize that aspiring writers needed to write article after article, growing through the research, editing and rejection process. They needed to persevere in order to develop their craft and earn the right to be heard. This had been a turning point for Deb. The God Uses Ink conference encouraged her to keep writing. Although she had gone down a winding path, she was still headed in the right direction.
Several articles and short stories later, Deb buckled in for the adventure of writing her first novel, The Third Grace. It would feature aspects of her experiences living in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Minnesota. She dug deep into her Mennonite roots, pulled beloved quirks from the people around her and was influenced by adventures she had exploring French cities like Paris and Aix-Les-Bains. It was a delightful process but it wouldn’t be complete until she could share her novel with others.
It took Deb three years to write her manuscript. She found an agent at another Write! Canada conference and after three more years, The Third Grace was published. It told the story of a young woman, Mary Grace, also called Aglaia, who was living the big city life but was still overwhelmed by the memories of a summer love she had in her days in the countryside. She journeyed to Paris for work and to find the man she loved. But through many twists and turns Aglaia would discover something even more precious; she would find herself.
Imagine your childhood dreams coming true. At the 24th annual Canadian Christian Writers Awards gala, Deb won the Grace Irwin Award, Canada’s largest literary award for Christian writers. She was incredibly shocked, humbled and honoured to receive this award for The Third Grace. Her very first novel was being read, appreciated and critically acclaimed. What more could a novelist dream of?
Deb dreams of pointing people back to God through her writing. As she says, “We are all looking for a spiritual connection. Literature is such a wonderful way to help people find a connection.” She aspires to engage the emotions of her readers. She hopes they identify with her stories and that the truths and resolutions lead them to Christ. This is her method of reaching people for God.
How wonderful that a dream God placed in our hearts as children could bring us joy and fulfilment, while helping us accomplish our mission as Christians. Looking back Deb reflects that “we try so hard to cram it all in, talk to the right people and learn all the right things. We need to step back from all the anxiety and trust God. I admit it’s easier for me to say this in hindsight but it doesn’t make it any less true.”
God clearly has a plan and purpose for Deb Elkink. He has one for us all. It is time we started believing that dreams, even childhood ones, can come true.
The Third Grace is available in paperback and eBook versions through most online merchants or your local bookstore (ISBN 978-1-937573-00-3). You can also visit Deb Elkink’s website at www.debelkink.com
The Third Grace, see book review http://www.maranathanews.com/2012/07/19/book-review-the-third-grace/
Nicole Findlay is a Christian writer and creative artist. She writes to transform experiences, emotions and ideas in something others can interact with. Her website is www.nicolefindlay.com
(Photos by: Moussa Faddoul www.fotoreflection.com)