Even if many people had read my manuscript on Augustine, I was not totally satisfied with it until, just a week or so before my deadline, Dr. Philip Cary of Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, read it and sent me many valuable suggestions, taking the time to examine line after line, always ready to answer my questions (see an earlier post about this).
I turned in my first manuscript of my short novel on Olympia Morata in May. The corrections went back and forth between my editor and I for a few months, until she felt that it was done. Still, I was not completely happy with it. Since this is my first attempt at writing a novel, I thought I was just expecting too much. "Maybe this is all I can do," I thought.
By a turn of God's providence, I discovered only one month ago that I had to obtain permission for all my quotations of Olympia's letters and poems because, even if they were written in the XVI century, the translation I used was quite recent. The permission was given, but too restrictive. The only alternative was to re-translate everything. The letters were originally written in Latin, the poems in Greek.
I studied Greek for four years and Latin for seven, but that was a long, long time ago... Right then, a young man preached at our church. "Most of you know me for my passion for anything Greek," he said as he introduced himself. The answer! I asked him if he wanted to translate some poems for me and he said yes. His name is Chris Stevens. The result was fantastic, as he was able to catch subtle nuances that the original translator, probably not as acquainted with the Septuagint version of the Bible, had missed.
As for Latin, I was happy to discover that I can still master the language. My mother would be proud of me! I actually read each passage out loud in Latin, feeling like a teenager again. Never mind that, way back in high school, Latin translations were seen as gruesome tasks. This time I actually enjoyed them!
All this unexpected extra work, however, served another purpose. It was buying some time. Enough for my friend and former editor Heather to email me and invite me over. I had sent her my manuscript months ago, asking if she could review it, but she had never answered. I found out why. She had been fighting cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. Being in remission, she was now willing to read my manuscript.
"I need to send it in by Friday," I told her.
"Send what in by Friday??? This is Wednesday night!!!"
I really didn't expect her to do it, but I told her Monday would be OK. She must have worked late into the night, even Thursday, after a day spent watching her three young grandchildren (triplets). Her comments came in three messages, insightful and discerning, probing me to draw deeper into the wells of my mind to find more convincing and poignant explanations of various concepts and emotions.
Her questions were incisive. I had written this book with young Christian girls in mind, mostly Reformed Christians, and many statements were unintelligible to other readers.
"I have been bought with a price," Olympia's father said in my manuscript.
"Who bought? Who sold? What price?" asked my friend.
Well, tomorrow is Monday and the manuscript is done, thanks to Heather, thanks to Chris Stevens, and thanks to God. This time, even I am satisfied with it.