By Terry Carroll
On August 8 at 4:30 p.m., while helping my daughter and son-in-law move furniture into to a new house, I fell off a trailer onto a concrete curb and fractured a couple of ribs in my lower back.
Anyone who’s ever had this knows what it’s like.
Those tiny seconds changed the plans my lovely wife Nancy and I had made to take a few days’ holidays. Starting August 14, we were intending to go to my sister-in-law’s home in the Ottawa, taking one of our daughters and a granddaughter with us. All the parties to this plan needed a break for one reason or another, and I felt arguably worse about that than the pain itself which turned out to be not nearly as bad as some people encounter and was easily controlled by pharmaceuticals.
Two days after we had cancelled those plans, my lovely wife Nancy said she had been awakened in the night with the thought that everything happens for a reason. Maybe God was looking after us.
Over the next four days, once I could again do things like tie my own shoes again, I tackled paperwork that had been sitting in a basket and various other places for a very long time.
Among these papers were some rough notes from a Zoom address Thomas Froese had given to Elgin Writers Guild in January 2021. He and I had worked together at the St Thomas Times-Journal in the mid-1990s, when community newspapers were still important, and we had become friends over the years. Thom kept up his journalistic credentials through his work as columnist and editor at the Yemen Times, then coordinator of the birth of the Standard, the only regularly published university newspaper in Uganda. And he continues to write an award-winning columnist with the Hamilton Spectator in Ontario.
We also have a shared interest in reading and critiquing the fiction. In his case, this includes getting an MFA in Creative Writing, teaching Literature and Creative Writing at Redeemer University, and teaching American Literature to Ugandan post-graduate students.
In his January talk to Elgin Writers Guild, Thom strongly recommended two books: American Short Story Masterpieces edited by Raymond Carver and Tom Jenks, and Writing Fiction written by Gotham Writers Workshop faculty. In late August, under the renewed sway of Thom’s talk and my new best friend, Percocet, I ordered both books, immediately dipped into them and was gobsmacked. For a couple of weeks until I could work full-time again, I was immersed in some amazing short stories and a terrific manual about the craft of writing fiction.
Thom, an evangelical Christian, is interested in the intersection of faith and daily life in all his work, and introduces this interplay in the stories he teaches. In January, he told us he felt a link between good fiction (and good movies) and holiness. I had felt something similar myself for years. But saying it aloud had seemed out of the question, like sacrilege so I never did.
God looking after us? Taking lemons and making lemonade? Something dwelling in the subconscious being triggered into the conscious mind?
Whether you push door one, two or three probably doesn’t matter.