Where I explain how some days my current book project feels a little like a tall invisible talking rabbit.
 
 
Harvey 3

“Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor,

and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.”

James Stewart in “Harvey”, 1950

 

Manuscripts Notes

I resumed work on my book this week.  Sometimes when I say those two words “my” and “book” I have to fight the feeling that I am James Stewart describing his invisible 6-foot, 3-and-a-half-inch tall rabbit friend, Harvey, to dubious onlookers. Fortunately, most of my friends and family know the book actually does exist (in whatever rough form) and are very supportive. Yesterday two different friends in two different places asked me the same question, “So how’s the book coming?”  I may as well tell you what I told them, in case for some odd reason you were wondering, too.
 
My current project, working title “Felt Stories“, is creative non-fiction and based on my journey as a woman with intimacy issues. The frame of the book is a box of my Grandma Finney’s Sunday School flannelgraphs which I inherited from my mom.  Inside that frame is a winding tangle of stories about my struggle as a woman with regard to sex in marriage and intimacy with God. As I have wrestled my way to the bottom of a box of felt Bible stories, I have also been unraveling my own story of healing. It begins as my story as a pastor’s daughter who grew up in a suburb of Chicago, immersed in middle-class American Protestant culture, and winds through my years as a recovering wife and mom. In a larger sense, it’s a pretty universal story of wrestling with faith.

Flannelgraphs

The flannelgraphs are pretty humorous. The logos and branding are clearly from the late1950’s.  I often describe the flannel backed paper props as Sunday School cartoons featuring Elizabeth Taylor and Charleston Heston in bathrobes.  Even though the Bible is obviously set in olive-toned, black-haired places like modern day Iraq, Iran, and Egypt, most all the main players in the flannel stories are light-haired, white northern Europeans. Flannel graph peopleThe folders of sequential storytelling instructions are to the point if not a bit dogmatic. And even if the pictorial casting was questionable at best or prejudiced at worst, the stories are true to form.

Altogether, one tale after the other, my box of felt stories plays out the troublesome ways of faulty people loved by a redeeming God.

Initially, I opened the box with a posture of disagreement. I was ready to argue with the flannelgraphs, with the way mainline protestant churches have often relegated women to typewriters, pianos, and children’s ministries; with the way the topic of true intimate sex has been silently avoided in sanctuaries and reduced to something which warrants whispers and caution. Bottom line: I brought my womanly baggage to the box and found something surprising in return.  It’s not a tidy ending … it’s just the beautiful mess of real life.

Recovery

That said, the process of writing this story has been as much about my journey of recovery in marriage and faith as it has been about my path as a writer. I set the project down for a couple months to concentrate on other writerly things and recovery.  Inside of that, I started  going to a 12 Step group for recovering intimacy anorexics (read about that HERE). In doing the step work for my meetings, I inadvertently picked up a couple of crucial missing pieces for the book. When I sat back down to read over the draft and write, things started falling together in a new way. Honestly feels like divine timing.
 
So, April is my re-ignition month for Felt Stories.  New material. New day. New draft. This time next year (crossed fingers) I hope to have an actual completed manuscript. And hopefully, at some point, I won’t feel like I’m talking about an invisible rabbit anymore.

True For You, Too

Following a crazy dream requires more of us than we could imagine. This is what it feels like to walk an uncharted path without a map.  This is how the edge of the unknown feels.  And just in case you are facing a similar challenge in your own life, hear me say this: “Keep going friend. No matter the outcome, the process of pursuing your passion is worth it.”
 
harvery poster
 
 
 
 
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8 thoughts on “Not Harvey

  1. kristen simons

    what incredible timing…i am sitting at a Centura orientation…why? because i determine that not only do i want to get my masters in counseling…i want to pay for it, so i got a part time job. this morning i had to find the annex parking lot in a blizzard and ride the shuttle to st Francis main. i found my easy through the winding hallways to the meeting room to discover that everyone else has received a call saying to be there a half hour earlier….most of the people in the room r 15-20 years younger…people give me that Harvey the rabbit look when tell them my plans.

    Reply

  2. Teri @ MommySabbatical.com

    Kelley – I’ve watched parts of your story unfold for the past decade; sometimes up-close-&-personal, sometimes from afar. And it seems a beautiful, edge-of-your-seat, breathtaking tale of supernatural forgiveness, healing, and grace. I’m so grateful for your presence in my life, for your willingness to share the gifts you’ve been given. Thank you, for allowing God to work in & thru you, as your story ripples out with grace and healing for others.

    Reply

  3. Heather Kopp

    Kelley, I’ve been reading a bunch of your recent posts and so enjoy them all! You are so gifted. I’m so excited about you your book. Is there anything harder than writing? But clearly God is calling you to this. I’m such a fan and can’t wait to see what God does!

    Reply

  4. Kristine D'Ambrosio

    I love this quote from the Great Gatsby… “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isnt any privacy.” As how that applies to me …I am working on being known instead of social in the world. Scary stuff in a marriage! Looking forward to hearing about your dealings with intimacy. To be known completely and fully loved is frightening on a human level… I don’t think I could even recognize that fear until I started a journey to understand true Gospel grace and who I am in Christ..deeply loved as is! The journey with the Holy Spirit to dig out roots of shame that keep me away from deep emotional intimacy without fear has been a painful ,beautiful and ongoing! Looking forward to see what’s next!

    Reply

    1. Kelley J Leigh Post author

      Kritine. Snow Day yesterday meant we watched Gatsby for the umpteenth time. Love the story, and love your quote. Yes, much to learn about intimacy and vulnerability. Thanks for letting me know I’m in good company! I appreciate you.
      ~K

      Reply

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