Monday, November 05, 2012


When I was a kid I once asked my dad if I could have a nightlight. He replied, "there's nothing there in the dark that isn't there in the light. You don't need one." Like a lot of little girls, I thought he knew everything, so I grew up without that nightlight, reciting Dad's words to myself whenever I was afraid, holding them out in front of me like a talisman, but wishing for a light instead.  

Fast-forwarding to adulthood, I've determined that while he was right about lot of things, Dad was wrong about the darkness. It is populated with many things that aren't there during the day. Things that use darkness to their advantage. If you're with me on this, then I don't have to tell you that they have teeth; you already know. They are the things that worry you and keep you up at night, the regrets, the disappointments, the "why did I say that"s, and the unfounded fears that play and replay on our mental movie screens when we're tired or vulnerable. They are the monsters under the bed, the invisible psychos in the back seats in empty parking lots. And all they need is an unguarded moment in the darkness to take hold. I now freely admit to my need for a night light and am happy to provide one for others when they need it.

The book "The Daylight Here" that I started writing in 2009 was the result of these things complicated by a low dose of  midlife crisis (mortality, oy . . . ). I needed a new night light, so I wrote one. Being me, and because it was a look at regrets, mortality, and the choices we make, it took the form of a ghost story, but it is about much more than that.

In rereading it I've been struck by how much of it is good, solid work and how little editing the first two thirds needs. The last third was garbage. This happens sometimes, though I usually spot it before I get very far along. But now I remember why I put it down. Because I knew I'd taken a wrong turn, but I couldn't figure out how to fix it without tearing out part of it and, at the time, I didn't want to. Funny what a difference three  years can make. It was easy to hit that delete button.  

While I was sitting in church yesterday morning I was thinking about this story (sorry God) and it came to me that I will feel better about the entire project if I settle on a permanent title that actually defines the purpose for the book. I contemplated what motivated me to write it in the first place of where I was emotionally at the time (not depressed, just not happy, and not sure what to do about it).

For reasons that will become clear as I reveal more about the book, the word Bright crossed my mind. And then it crossed it again. It resonated. And I realized that is what it should have been called all along. 

Once I settled on the title I knew for the first time that this is the next book you will all see. Watch this blog for updates and excerpts in the coming months. 

Oh--and the villain in this one? He gives the author chills. I wonder why.



Hal Johnson said...

I really wanted to stay out of it, but I'm glad you chose that one.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I like the word Bright, it sounds like a wonderful title for a good book.

jeanie said...

I think perhaps God may well have been involved in your self-discussion, Mary.

So glad you have found the light ;)

Mary O. Paddock said...

Thanks Hal. (Feel free to speak up in the future. :) )

Tyrean--Thanks for stopping by! And I hope so. It's the first name that doesn't feel misplaced.

Jeanie--I didn't want to say that (as I was obviously not paying attention to the sermon), but that's my feeling too.