Just Do It

A warm welcome to my guest blogger, Rachel Barrett, a contributing author to 21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured Relationships.

What inspired you to write the story you submitted for 21 Days of Love?

I love dogs. I am also utterly terrified of dogs. Hence, my vicarious life is writing stories about people who are not afraid of dogs.

Briefly share one of your favorite Valentine’s Day memories.

My dad traveled a great deal when I was growing up. Once, before leaving on Valentine’s Day, he took time to celebrate with us—lollipops for my sister and me, flowers for my mom, but most special of all, just an afternoon of family all together.

Tell something about yourself as a person and as a writer.

As a person: I am the queen of procrastination. Why wash dishes when you can go hiking?

As a writer: I get strange looks from coworkers when they catch me muttering lines of dialogue. I mean, you have to say them out loud to find out if they sound right.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Play with my chickens and miniature goats, cuddle my cat, and watch old black-and-white TV Westerns. Oh, and annoy my long-suffering husband with wheezed renditions of “Oh Susanna” on my trusty harmonica.

What do you do to relax or blow off steam?

I head for that thar shootin’ range with my cowboy revolver and let ’er fly! Or I shoot things with my quick-draw camera.

Tell me something that’s quirky about you.

I love words and writing, but I can hardly string three sentences together out loud. Except for my ability to unerringly quote large portions from The Princess Bride. Inconceivable.

What ministries are you passionate about and involved in?

Ministering through writing and stories to survivors of abuse and trauma is something very close to my heart.

When do you have your devotional time with the Lord, and what do you do during that time?

Mornings are my favorite devotional time. I read the day’s entry in a dog-eared copy of Daily Light, then one from Amy Carmichael’s Edges of His Ways. It’s amazing how often the two books complement each other in message or chosen Scripture passages. Then I spend time in the Bible and prayer, asking for strength and wisdom to apply what I have read to how I live this day.

What interesting jobs have you had?

During my junior year of college, I worked in the university greenhouse, caring for grafted cactus plants that were a professor’s special project. Those cacti were so rare and valuable that they were kept inside three nested and padlocked cages. I mean, just getting the water hose in there took up half the day.

What else have you written?

I’ve written a few poems, many short stories, and four Western manuscripts.

What do you love most about writing?

I love creating a world. I also love the freedom to grab my feelings—however angst-ridden—by the throat, then wrestle, claw, and pummel them into beautiful words.

What do find most challenging about writing?

Staring down the cold muzzle of a blank sheet of paper. Three little words are important here: Just Do It.

Share one of your most rewarding moments connected to your writing.

As a teenager, the night when I typed in the final scene of my first manuscript, then hit Print and held the complete draft in my hands. I’d never finished writing a story before. That was the moment I knew I was hooked on writing.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

Chris Evans/Captain America needs to play the part of my gunfighter-turned-short-order-cook-with-a-sordid-past (once the book is published). Plus, I really need Gabby Hayes to reincarnate and play the cranky, toothless prospector with the wisdom of the ages in his long white beard … or maybe that’s just tobacco stains.

How has God used fiction to touch your heart or change your life?

Fiction is often symbolic—an avenue to express feelings in a manner unconstrained by black and white. I have written numerous stories while dealing with difficult life seasons, as a way of emotional and mental release. By writing or reading fiction, a person can better approach and/or work through sensitive subjects.

What parable that Jesus told do you resonate with? What would you change about the story if you could? What details would you want to add?

Matthew 25:14–30, the parable of the servants and the talents. God’s call on our lives is not a static thing to be carried around, sat upon, or hidden. It must become who we are, what we do, what we live for. It’s dynamic.

What story in the Bible do you wish had a different ending? Or in what biblical story do you wish you knew what happened next?

I want to know what happened to the prodigal’s brother. I wish the story ended showing that the two men were reconciled.

Rachel Barrett

Rachel Barrett is a preacher’s-kid-turned-farm-wife who homesteads with her husband, Paul, in the beautiful West Texas Chihuahuan Desert. She plays in her year-round garden, raises miniature dairy goats, and writes Western stories. In her spare time, she blogs at ranchitobandito.wordpress.com.