I've heard a lot of wonderful things from my pastor, and one of the most powerful is "The only thing worse than unbelief is a wrong belief."
It's true. It's easier to build a house on an empty lot than it is to destroy a building that's already there. It doesn't just apply to beliefs, but to knowledge.
That's one of the reasons why, when I'm writing a book, it's important for me to get everything right the first time. Research lays foundations. If I start writing a book on an incorrect assumption, I might not be able to correct myself. And that's where excuses and imagination have to come together beautifully.
For example, most people know that all monks wear brown robes. Right? Nope. Only Franciscan friars wear brown habits and rope belts. Benedictines typically wear black, and Augustinians wear white. But I didn't know this when I started writing Where the Clouds Catch Fire, and so I designed Lukas as always wearing a brown habit with a rope belt.
Later, I realized just how much I hate researching after-the-fact. I couldn't get brown-robed Lukas replaced by a black-robed Lukas, at least in my mind. Brown suits his personality better. Brown is my grandfather's favorite color. Black is the color of business suits and funerals. And besides, Lukas just looks better in brown.
I could have done a simple search-and-replace and solved my problem. I could have just sucked it up and made Lukas more historically accurate. But I didn't. I didn't have a good reason not to. Or maybe belief is the best reason in the world to do something. And this was when my imagination started working with whatever part of me is good at making excuses.
I did more research. Turns out, the Law of St. Benedict didn't specify what color monk's clothes were supposed to be. They would wear the same clothes a poor person would. The black color was added later, just for a standardization across the Order. I might have exploited that loophole, but I had a better idea.
We tend to take colors for granted today. If a store doesn't have a shirt in the color we like, we order it online. There's an entire aisle at Walmart dedicated to different colors of yarn. But back in the day, dye had to be made by hand. It involved time and plants and hot water and, for some reason, urine. Some colors were harder to obtain than others, and one particularly difficult color to make was black.
But one particularly easy color to make was brown.
I still feel a little guilty about not doing my research beforehand. I've learned my lesson for future books. And while I'll do my best to learn information before I need it now, it was still worth it for the simple exercise in creativity.
What's the most creative solution you've ever made? Do you prefer wearing black clothes or brown clothes? Tell me in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.