You can call me old-fashioned. I don’t mind, because in many ways, I am. I have an e-reader, but I much prefer a “real” book. I have thousands of photographs on my phone, but I still print out my favorites and display them all over the house. I send and receive text messages, but it’s a special thrill to receive a hand-written letter from someone I love. I enjoy talking to my granddaughters on FaceTime, but it isn’t the same as holding them on my lap. And a family Zoom call this summer on Ken’s and my 50thwedding anniversary won’t be the same as celebrating with our loved ones in person.
In the past, I’ve been stubbornly technophobic, relying on my computer-savvy children, my assistant Christine, and when all else fails, the “Geek Squad” at Best Buy. I was convinced that there’s truth to the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But I’m learning that old dogs actually can be taught new tricks when they’re forced to. My newest book, “If I Were You,” releases tomorrow, June 2, and since many of my tried-and-true methods of launching a new book are on lockdown, I’ve had to learn a lot of new tricks. So has my long-suffering husband who has become my videographer, technical assistant, Zoom coach, and a shoulder-to-cry-on as we’ve been sequestered at home with minimal computer skills and a very steep learning curve to negotiate.
I think we all feel pretty much the same in lamenting the changes the pandemic has brought. The question we ask again and again is, “When will things get back to normal?” We fear that the answer may be “never.” Facing unwanted change and an unknown future can wear a person down.
“If I Were You” is set in England during World War II, and I’ve come to realize that the generations who suffered through that war faced circumstances that were similar to what we’re currently enduring but on a much larger scale. They had no idea how long the war would last or who would win it, or if their loved ones would live or die. Their former lives had been turned upside down, forcing them to learn all sorts of new things, like how to sleep in a bomb shelter or cope with food shortages and rationing. We know how the war ended and that evil was ultimately defeated; they had no idea what would happen as the war dragged on for six long years in England and four years in the United States.
As a writer, I know that I must plunge my characters into troubling circumstances if I want them to grow and change. It’s the only way to motivate them to turn to God. And now I’m wondering if God might be using this pandemic to try to change some things in my life? Might He be trying to teach this old dog some new tricks? The Bible says, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3) And while my actual suffering has been very minimal, especially compared to enduring a world war, my eyes have been opened to how I’ve taken so many wonderful things in my life for granted. Such as worshiping with other believers in church. Eating out with friends. Browsing through the bookstore or the library. Hopping on an airplane to visit my mom and sister in New York, or our son in California.
And I’m going to miss gathering with my friends and loyal readers in person this week to tell you about my newest book. It’s impossible to do it the “old fashioned” way for now, but I hope you’ll join me on Thursday, June 4 at 8:00 PM (EST) as I launch “If I Were You” in a brand-new way. Here is the link where you can register. Simply click on the picture.
So tell me, what new tricks have you learned during the past few months?