Meredith Davis is a volunteer writer for The Austin Stone Story Team and a children’s book writer. We asked Meredith some questions about her most recent story, “Give Us a Miracle, Please.”
Story Team: Given that you have some knowledge of the story going into the interview, were there any elements of this story that surprised you?
Meredith: I am always surprised by some element of the story that seems to jump out at me during an interview. This time it was Lindsey’s journals. She hadn’t mentioned them when she first submitted her story, but they were the perfect vehicle for capturing some of her emotional journey. I was also surprised when both Lindsey and her husband, Dan, said that they wouldn’t trade their experience for anything. It was so evident that their trials had brought their faith to a real level of maturity.
Story Team: In what ways has this story changed since your first draft?
Meredith: At first, I focused on the day that Lindsey’s friend gave her the journal as my entry into this story. Lindsey was telling me how her friend called and asked if she could do something to help. Here was Lindsey with so much on her plate—she had young kids and a husband who could die. “Yes,” she told her friend, “I need a journal.” This line just struck me as so real. She needed a place to write her prayers and pour her heart out to God. But in editing, that line didn’t make it. It made the timeline confusing, and the story was better told using lines from Lindsey’s journals.
Story Team: Describe the use of journal entries in the story. Where did the idea come from and how did they help shape the story?
Meredith: When the photographer, Cassie Robison, and I arrived for the interview, both Lindsey and Dan had their journals on the table. As they told their story, Lindsey shared how she had never written her prayers down before Dan’s diagnosis. She read from entries to help capture how they felt in those scary days, and Dan referred to his journal often to remind himself of his struggles and his prayers. At the end of the interview, Lindsey laughed about how she is a “control freak” and how she always has to have a particular kind of journal and she keeps them all. It just seemed like such a great way to enter into their story and their lives authentically.
The first draft I submitted had only one actual journal entry in it, but after getting comments back from my awesome editor, Jamie Ray, I realized that the journal entries would be the key to capturing the heart of this story. I went back and forth with Lindsey, getting her to send me pictures of the pages she wrote in the days leading up to Dan’s biopsy results, after they received their good news, and even a year later, on the anniversary of the day Dan learned he might have cancer.