Just like the plague, we don’t want anything to do with trials. We will avoid them if we can. We try to maybe even prevent them. We might try to run from them, but they always find us. Oh, but it’s the stuff that makes for good writing. Conflicts and trials are the ingredients for a good novel or a good screenplay. Believe me, I have had plenty of trials to write about. Indeed, it is the trials in our own lives that give us the ability to understand the trials of others.
I love true survival stories. Not that I’m a glutton for punishment. It’s just that when I interview people who have gone through horrendous trials and they have not only survived, but are stronger than ever before, it gives me hope. I feel that if they can get through their ordeal or are staying strong through their trial, perhaps I can, too.
Take my friend, Hoa Nguyen. He’s a Vovinam Master. He became a Green Beret and helped our troops fight the Communists in the Vietnam War. When Saigon fell, he was captured and thrown into prison. The only way he could get out of prison was to become the body guard for his wife’s great uncle, who was a high level Communist official. Hoa, his wife, Duc, and two children and several relatives were able to escape. They set out by boat to freedom in Malaysia, but pirates attacked them. Hoa was the only one who survived the attack, and he survived 18 days in a tiny broken boat on the ocean. He tied his last remaining clothes to a stick to make a sail and finally made it to shore. His story is incredible and I felt it a privilege to write about him. We are working on his story for a book and screenplay. He inspires me everyday.
Another friend of mine, Terry Caffey, has been through a horrendous ordeal, too. His wife and two sons were murdered by his daughter’s sociopathic boyfriend, who also set his house on fire. Terry was shot 11 times, but by the grace of God lived to tell his story. He wrote his book, Terror By Night (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) to give hope to others and to help himself through his grief. I am so grateful that God brought us together so I could write his story into a screenplay. It is beyond remarkable.
And, still another friend of mine, Rhea Zakich, inventor of the Ungame, was 30 years old when the Watts Riots broke out in August 1965 and just wanted to do something to make a difference. She most certainly did, by going to Watts and helping the black mothers and their children learn to read and the mothers to find jobs. She gave them hope, but not without facing incredible hatred from her own people and family members. She risked her own life and endured many trials to help others. And, I feel so blessed to have written her story into a screenplay.
There are many friends I’ve made along the way, ones I believe that God had arranged for me to meet. I didn’t write all their stories, but I listened. Instead of feeling dread, I felt tremendous compassion. I will always feel that it is a privilege not only to have trials (though I would prefer to avoid them) and to listen to other peoples’ trials, but to be in a position to write about them.
(C) Anne Mount 2015