Dear From the Heart reader, it is my privilege today to welcome Danielle Scott to our blog.
Danielle, you are an actor, singer, dancer, poet, wife and mother as well as an author. Whew Danielle, that is a lot of hats you are wearing. Can you share with us when the creative spark was first lit in your life?
I was painfully shy as a young child. To combat this, my parents decided to enroll me in tap and ballet classes. Before long, my dance group was performing in local talent shows and on a local television show formatted after Star Search. From there, I blossomed. My favorite memory is of my back yard. It had landscape timbers which covered our septic tank like a wooden raft. It was my stage. I said to myself, “I’m going to be an actress when I grow up, except I don’t want to be famous because I don’t want my children to get kidnapped.” From then on, the only endeavors that mattered to me were the artistic ones. It also helped that when I was a child, Fame was on TV, Annie was my favorite book-turned-movie, and Flashdance and Footloose were popular.
Who inspired you?
In acting and singing, I can’t pinpoint anyone in particular. My mother always sang, so therefore, I sang, too. I love powerful music. In dance, Sammy Davis, Jr., Gregory Hines, and Martha Graham have been the greatest influences. In poetry and writing, Toni Morrison and Shakespeare have had a tremendous impact on my life’s work. My husband, however, is my favorite writer and my biggest champion.
You had mentioned on your blog that you are currently on a journey of growth through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Tell us a little bit about that journey if you don’t mind sharing.
For years, I struggled with knowing what God’s purpose for my life was. It frustrated me. It depressed me. I had graduated from high school, received a degree in Theatre, and then unexpectedly returned to my hometown in the middle of nowhere where degrees in Theatre aren’t exactly valuable. Within two months, I got hired as a Community Planner for a local development agency and worked there for seven years while I also married my first husband and had my first child. I had an amazing salary, a company car and company cell phone and planned to stay until retirement. Then one day, my boss handed me my termination letter. They were downsizing my position to create a pocket of money for another job for which I wasn’t qualified. I was devastated.
Next thing you know, I’m divorced and bouncing from meaningless job to meaningless job because I couldn’t find anything in my area of expertise. I later remarried, gained two step-children and had my youngest daughter, but I was still going through the motions, struggling to find meaning. Even with the Theatre Company which my husband and I had created, there had to be more. It was then that God took over. He had kind of been on a back burner for awhile. He pulled me back into His will for my life. He made me revisit the pain of my past and find true healing. He also made it very clear to me what talents He had given me to reach His people. This journey of growth is a journal of sorts as He perfects these gifts in me and prepares me to truly step into my purpose which is to bring healing to the many who now stand where I once stood.
In your journey, how and when did you decide to focus on writing and is what you are currently ‘tweaking’ drawn from your personal life story?
Somewhere along the way, my painful shyness returned in early adulthood. I now know that it is a phobia which developed as a result of the painful rejection I received from my father. I also feel it is a weapon which the enemy uses to keep me from stepping into my purpose. How can I possibly one day be a speaker if I can’t get up in front of people without shaking violently?
As God continued to work on me and give me messages, I knew these messages were meant to be shared. My mother then gave me a box of stuff she had kept. In it, was everything I had ever written from Kindergarten on up. As I leafed through the pages, I was astounded by my clarity and vocabulary at the age of fourteen. I read comments from teachers who praised my work. I could write! When did I forget that?
The reality of the grip that this phobia has had on my life finally hit me. My favorite animal is the turtle. I suddenly saw myself as a box turtle withdrawing into my shell. I knew God wanted more. I knew God wanted me to be bold and transparent and able to reach His people. So, I started a blog. It began as simple reflections of messages God was sharing with me, daily scriptures which had a tremendous impact on me. In the back of my mind, these messages would become mini-sermons which I would someday preach or speak. But the more I wrote, the more feedback I received. It was then that my published author friend, Brian C. Johnson, told me I needed to write a book. I told him the only thing I would ever have to write about is fathers and daughters and there was no way I was going there. Well, through all of the painful re-hashing of my life, that’s exactly where God wanted me to go.
Where did you get your inspiration from for this particular book you are doing a rewrite on?
All around me, I seem to be able to “see” people who live with rejectional wounding from their parents. Those friends who had fathers who modeled God’s love for us remained in His will and never doubted. But those friends who had fathers who struggled with their knowledge of God were the friends who struggled with accepting God’s love for them – often going far off of God’s path. Some of those same friends still have not come back to the proverbial fold. My burning desire is to help the ones who have yet to come back and the ones who still cannot accept God’s love because it seems so foreign to them.
I’m currently a manager of a McDonald’s store. I watch the fruit of rejectional wounding play out in the interaction between people everyday. Most of what ails this world lies in this wounding which means of course, the healing of this world might possibly be wrapped up in the truth of relational healing.
Have you ever entertained the idea of writing fiction?
I have written a juvenile fiction book dealing with the same issue. I wrote it as part of NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writer’s Month, which challenges writers to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. The book is called “Murphy’s Law”. It follows Lucinda, a teenage biracial girl who is rejected by her grandparents because of her race as she weaves her way into healing her family and eventually healing others like her. Sound familiar?
What places have you gone to for research in this book?
The hardest places to travel, and I really don’t mean this facetiously, were the depths of my soul, the place of my darkest memories, and back to my Savior’s arms. During the writing of this book, I had to continually speak Psalm 139:23-24 over myself, “Search me and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” The truth I found was if there were a hurtful way in me, there must be a cause because for every fruit there is a root. The cause had to be uncovered and healed. Forgiveness had to be given to my offenders and found for myself. The entire cyclical process caused me to open myself more and more to the wondrous love that is only found in Christ.
Wow Danielle, I am really looking forward to your newly edited draft. Sounds like you have been writing it from your knees. Have you run into any obstacles in this writing journey?
Ummmm… see above? The writing of this book has been so very painful. Pain is not easy for anyone to relive, especially when the subconscious brings up so many details that we have long buried. Oh! Another obstacle is sleep. God really likes to wake me up in the middle of the night to write. I must say I love sleep only slightly less than God but more than my husband and children. Okay, I’m joking. Kinda.
Danielle, What do you hope people will take away from reading your book?
Healing, healing and more healing. I hope people will recognize themselves and their loved ones within the pages so they might dare to go there. I hope they will dare to lance open their hidden wounds to experience the true antiseptic of Christ’s love. I hope if the book doesn’t speak directly to them, they will pass the book on to someone who will experience the mirroring of stories. People need to know they are not alone. There is hope. There is a God who loves them.
Have there been any particular titles that you read that helped you personally?
I started to read Bonnie St John’s “How Strong Women Pray” and that unleashed all this “stuff”. Of course I read Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life” and that was just one step in the journey that left me frustrated at the moment, but its truth was revealed later. I was also blessed to attend a seminar called “Restoring Relationships” provided by the Bethesda Foundation (www.bfsf.org) wherein Dominic Herbst revealed his book and training materials which completely affirmed my work. Mr. Herbst has been tremendously encouraging while I write and uncover new truths.
Do you have any new projects you are working on?
I would like to clean up and finalize “Murphy’s Law” and get this published, perhaps opening myself up to new opportunities in juvenile literature. I have a couple books that I’ve started but all have taken a back seat to this one. One is entitled, “As I Wait Upon the Lord” which discusses the uneasiness of our waiting periods before the Lord. I’m also co-authoring a book which looks at members of Clergy and how they are depicted in film.
I would imagine like most authors, once people know you are writing you get a lot of advice. What is the best and worst writing advice you ever got?
The best advice came from my agent, Diana, who told a group of Writer’s Conference attendees to “read your writing out loud”. This is great advice. My hubby doesn’t always agree, since he has to listen to me reading sentences over and over again, but it works. I don’t think I’ve gotten any bad advice. When I mention I’m writing a book, most people just look at me like I have a third eye. It has also been very hard for me to read critiques and rejection letters. I immediately think that means I have to start all over again.
I am really enjoying seeing all the new gadgets out there for readers and writers. Have you added any new tool to help you in your everyday writing life?
I use my laptop. I had a Tablet PC that I had hoped would save my writing life since I could truly sketch out ideas but it was struck by lightning. I have begun recording voice notes on my BlackBerry when a certain idea hits me. I love technology, I just tend to be more cautious before latching on to the latest craze.
Are you in a writers group or critique group? If so what has that meant to you?
Brian Johnson, who I mentioned earlier in the interview, has been a tremendous force in getting me to write. He credits me for inspiring him to write his first work which was immediately picked up and published in a whirlwind that hardly ever happens in the writing world. But, when we were still just testing the waters in our writing life, I committed to Brian that I would email him an “Accountability Tuesday” post every Tuesday to report what I had been working on and give him the opportunity to tell me what he has been working on. This was his birthday present in October of 2007. I can happily say, we have held each other accountable every week ever since. The group has expanded to include a group of writers from our church, including my husband.
Having this group in place has been tremendously helpful. I feel like I have a concerned group of brothers and sisters in Christ who believe in my God-given talents. They know this gift was meant to advance the Kingdom of God. They will not let me give up.
This group sounds like a wonderful gift. Danielle, where can people find out more about you and your writing and your previously published titles?
To get to know more about me, it’s probably best to read my blog at http://thenakedturtle.blogspot.com
FB: Danielle Murphy Scott
I’m currently building my platform in other arenas.
Would you like to offer the other authors out there a last word of encouragement?
I can only say that when you know deep in your soul that God is asking you to do something, Nike said it best, “Just Do It”. There’s no arguing with the God of the universe. Just take a moment to breathe in the reality and the awesomeness, while grappling with the humility that God asked you. You. Sometimes, it is amazing to see the ways in which our lives have twisted and turned to create this moment, this purpose. But it’s yours.
Danielle, thank you so much for joining us here today. I love your transparency and look forward to pitching your book to the editors I work with. When they first saw your idea, it really resonated with them. I know they will appreciate the changes you have made and hopefully our blog readers will see your title on a shelf in the near future.