Saturday, December 16, 2023

Finding Philemon: The Foundation


One of the Questions I've been asked about Finding Philemon is "How did you even come up with this story?" Let me tell you, that is two long stories in itself to write in a blog post like this, but I did want to hit the highlights for those who are interested in my process. There were several contributing factors in how this all came to be, but it all started back in 2015. 

When I first developed the general storyline for this story, I was working at a church in Tucson AZ.  The story started as a Sunday School Lesson that focused on taking scripture and finding meaning in it. The idea was to encourage the children to find purpose in more than just the major stories that we all had to memorize or study. I wanted to help them see that there are stories in the bible about more than what they are typically taught. 

We all know there are THE STORIES that we always teach, and I wanted to show them there is more to the Bible than just those stories that we could learn from. So, we used some really fun bible study methods to learn the lesser-known stories in scripture. One of these stories was about a runaway slave, who found his way to Rome, learned about faith, and was then sent back home in search of forgiveness. Sound familiar?

Yep, you guessed it! The very short letter that Paul wrote to Philemon about a runaway slave, who needed to find their way home. So as the scripture for one of our lessons about the lesser-known story, my approach was going to be about forgiveness and finding our way back to God when we make bad choices. Little did I know that when I was preparing for that lesson, I would end up discovering one of my favorite stories in scripture. 

Yes, I knew that the story was always there, but my understanding of it was not what it is today. It was one of those things where you already have a surface-level understanding of what it's talking about but find out there is something much deeper woven into it, through the surface-level stuff that completely changes your whole mindset. I never expected to discover the story's message, but there will be more on that in my next video on Facebook. 

This post is about developing the story that Finding Philemon is today. I did not write this story until a few years later shortly after I finished the draft of my first Biblical Fiction Novella, The Petros Journals. I took it upon myself to read the letter to Philemon again just for fun and I began to wonder about the events surrounding the events that took place in the letter and the story began coming out onto the pages that were sent to a small traditional publisher in 2018. 

Finding Philemon actually started out as a short story that blended the concepts developed in the first devotional that I wrote in 2015, Ahavah Writings for the Journey, and the concept I came up with for The Petros Journals. It was meant to tell the story, but also give the reader a devotional aspect to study and discover for themselves. One might even say it was a Biblical Fiction Devotional Journal. This blended concept was something I thought would change devotionals completely.

When the publisher never responded to my inquiries, I thought I should self-publish it myself, but as I continued to ponder the idea, my motivation hit rock bottom. I lost my biggest client in my freelance writing career due to financial reasons on their part and I honestly lost any passion I had for writing and basically stopped writing until March 2023. From 2018 to 2023 I wrote a few blogs and went about my normal life, simply trying to survive. 

I spent a great deal of time during those five years researching different writing types but never really taking any further action on it. I would start an idea for something and just give up. I would outline a story about some random topic that captured my thoughts and nothing would come of it. I checked out books from the library, telling myself it was research and they would just sit on my shelf. Something happened though that changed all that.

I discovered episodic writing and more ideas started flowing into my imagination. They sat there and I began to realize some things about my personal life that contributed to my lack of motivation. I started realizing I had changed, and not in the best of ways. There was a part of me that was missing and it was causing some internal battles that I never really thought I would have to face growing up. I began to take a deeper look at my life and something sparked. Deep down I really missed writing. 

So, I picked up the Chromebook I had not picked up in what seemed like a few years and I began to write. Slowly, my attention was drawn to this file I had filled with unfinished projects, and Finding Philemon was there, waiting to be brought back to life. I thought to myself, this would be perfect for a TV show, and BOOM, the episodic series based on what I had deemed a complete failure, was born. It took over my mind in the biggest way, a dear friend at work encouraged me daily and I kept at it.

I began to double the size of the story and then tripled the size of it. What started out as a very short story, turned into an eight-episode series. As I continued to study my story and let go of all the things that held me down for the last five years, it turned into a twelve-episode series. Once I found my groove, it turned into fifteen episodes, and finally, eighteen. It had become bigger than anything I had ever written and it was filled with everything that I had just spent the last several months letting go of. 

My heart and present state of mind were built into the words of this story that tugged and broke me in ways that I never thought it would. I found healing in so many ways as I built this story and my imagination was unchained. The World of Kedoshim came back to life and had so many tie-ins to the events that I added to this story that I never thought I would pick up again and now it has brought me to a place where I can wholeheartedly write again. 

Thanks again for visiting "The Gathering Room,"


PS (You can find all episodes of Finding Philemon that are currently available to download at this Affiliate Link. You can also follow my author hub, Writing the Journey,  on Facebook.)

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