Article provided by Rebecca Brown, The Cadence Group
The Children’s Book Review | January 9, 2016
Written by Shadd Driggs
Where do you find your inspiration for your next story? I have found that my inspiration comes best as an answer to a question I ask. A question may then prompt to a series of questions and lead me down a line of thinking to a new and creative place – a beautiful oasis of insight that I never would have found by observation alone. Because the oasis of insight was discovered by me, it excites me as if no one else had ever been there before, and I want to explore and share it with others.
I have found that my best inspiration originates with a sarcastic question asked in a moment of exasperation. Several Christmases ago, I heard a choir and soloist perform a piece of music which highlighted the various animals present at the Nativity. While the choir sang, the soloist made various animal sounds. I rolled my eyes and said to myself, “Isn’t that the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Now that we have heard from the sheep, what perspective is there from which we have NOT heard the Nativity story?”
But that same sarcastic question can yield interesting insight once it turns from a sarcastic question into a serious one. That question came back to me a few days later as a serious one. “What perspective of the Nativity story has not been told?” That question stayed with me for weeks until I felt a whisper to my mind, “Tell my story. I’m the midwife who went to help Mary that night.” “Of course!” I thought, “Surely Mary and Joseph weren’t there alone. Someone from the town must have been there to help her. Bethlehem had a midwife.”
My book, The Midwife of Bethlehem tells the story of a faith-filled midwife in Bethlehem who was called to the stable to help a couple from out of town deliver a baby. The story is about her experience that night and her slow realization of the significance of what was taking place — “You came to the stable tonight to deliver me, but I came to the world to deliver you.” The book has become a Christmas favourite for hundreds of families.
Once the concept was formed, additional questions followed that helped develop the story and the characters. What kind of a woman would God trust and give the honor of delivering His Son? How do I exhibit that character? What style of illustrations best support the message and tone of the story. Through a very exhaustive search, I found the wonderfully talented Diane Lucas who was wonderful to collaborate with.
As in literature, I have found in my profession as a business strategist that asking good questions is the only way to produce good outcomes. Failure often comes from people failing to ask the right question, and so therefore, they try to solve the wrong problem. World renowned business professor, Clayton Christensen, called asking the right question a “rare and valuable skill” and once done, “getting the right answer was typically quite straight forward.” Academic pioneer, Peter Drucker said, “One does not begin with the answers. One begins by asking, ‘What are our questions?”
Questions are sometimes unasked because the answers are thought to be assumed or common knowledge; however the truth may show them to be inaccurate or misaligned. Many political, economic, and social problems could be solved or avoided if we stopped long enough to ask the right questions.
Good questions challenge current thinking and go beyond “why is it this way.” Insightful question include “Of all the possible outcomes, what made it turn out this way?” “Why is it NOT some other way?” “What is missing?” “What would have been better?” “What would have been worse?” “What would need to happen in order for the outcome to…?”
In the Bible, God invites us to ask, seek, and knock. If God gave us all the answers to life up front, we wouldn’t know what to do with those answers. So He waits for us to ask. So, what questions do you want to ask?
About the Author
Shad Driggs is a businessman who lives in Naperville, Illinois. He and his wife, Darla, and their six children dedicate many hours in service to their church and community. His new book, The Midwife of Bethlehem, is available on Amazon.com and at select retail outlets.
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