By Erika Scannell
A gifted writer, fresh on the scene is our very own Erika Scannell. As a valued ghost writer, editor and contributor to On the Coast for the past 10 years, Erika is finally publishing her first book – a personal journey through unimaginable pain, forgiveness, redemption, faith and hope. Struggle of Will (Part I): An End Before the Beginning is a battle between reality and the desires of the heart. It is a story of loss and restoration. A story of despair and endless hope when facing inconceivable suffering, this story will captivate and place the reader inside the heart and soul of the hurting.
Erika never planned to be a writer. In fact, in college her focus was on marine science, biology and chemistry. Twenty-five years ago she was sure she was going to become a doctor. A couple years later, after taking Constitutional Law, visiting the US Supreme Court and watching arguments, she was positive she was going to pursue law school and “change the world fighting for environmental laws and protection.” She laughs and tells On the Coast Magazine, “HA! Yeah. I was totally convinced that I was going to be the next Erin Brockovich – only, I really was going to be the lawyer – not just working for one!”
So how did Erika end up writing? “Well, I journaled a ton when I was young. Does that count?” Laughing again, she continues, “In college I took as many writing-intensive courses as I could that would fit my majors so I could rack up extra credit hours. It was really nothing more than ambition and pure coincidence because many of the courses I chose were the only ones that would fit into my already packed schedule. But, in all reality, picking up the pieces after an unspeakable tragedy, that changes you. When I finally could talk about William, many people responded the same way: “You really need to write this story.’” And so she did.
After a miscarriage and some troubling “plumbing issues” early into their marriage, Erika and her husband, Kip, were told that she would most likely not ever be able to have children. “I was fine with that, really. I am one of ten children and I know firsthand how crazy and difficult large families can be. In fact, I was the one growing up
that always told my mom, ‘Don’t ever count on me giving you grandchildren. You have nine other kids to do that for you!’ Ha! What did I know?” They found themselves with three back-to- back pregnancies within three and a half years. “It was crazy. But we were young, in love and happy.”
That happiness ended abruptly when they lost their third son. He was stillborn (meaning the child was lost in utero – in the womb, and was born dead). “After William died, the reading materials given to us by the hospital service coordinator were so depressing and sad. After throwing them across the room and wiping my tears, I thought, ‘There has to be something else. Something more positive. Something better.’” After years of searching for that ‘something better,’ Erika was finally encouraged to write her story.
“It’s been a work in progress, obviously. William died eight years ago and I’ve been writing it all down for seven! It has not been an easy, overnight thing. It has been a slow healing process. And there have been a few more additions to the family since then - the list of distractions is endless. But not a day goes by that I don’t think about that lost baby – even if for a brief moment – every single day. He is still a part of our lives. I don’t think the hole in a heart is ever filled,
but over time, and by reaching out to others, the edges certainly do soften.”
Struggle Of Will (part 1): An End Before a Beginning takes the reader from the moment the couple could no longer hear a heartbeat, through their delivery, minute by minute, as if the reader is alongside them the entire journey. This is a tragic story of loss and recovery, with a beautiful love story mixed in. This true story will flood the reader with love through humor and pain, raw emotion and perhaps a little victory alongside the writer in her hours of turmoil. Every word is true and real. Erika exposes every thought and is honest and open about her feelings, fears, anger and sadness. In the book she also talks about her faith and in trying to understand how “bad things happen to good girls. After all, I was a preacher’s daughter. I was a good girl. In my little mind, things like that did not happen to good people, until it happened to me.”
The book is also one of hope. In sharing their story, both Kip and Erika desire that it encourages someone else who might find themselves doubting their faith, questioning God, or even at the end of their rope. “Nearly every person we told our story to responded the same way: ‘Yeah, my Ex and I went through that.’ Or, ‘my sister and her Ex suffered from a stillborn.’ It was always someone and their ‘Ex.’ And one of the first things I read from the stack of materials given to us was how most families don’t survive a tragic loss like that. It was like it was OK to let the loss of a child tear your entire family, your life apart. We had already lost a child. I didn’t want the rest of our story to be one of more loss. I didn’t want that one event to define us. I wanted our story to be one of hope. It wasn’t easy. But we survived – as a couple, as a family, together. In writing it all down and sharing it, we pray others can too!”
Erika assures her readers that this is just the beginning. “This is just a snippet of the great novel God has been writing as our lives.” She feels even the timing of the release of this work and the years it has taken to complete are significant: in biblical terms, the number seven implies completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). This book has been in production for seven years. “I don’t think this book is perfect – only one thing has ever been perfect. But God does not make mistakes. And the fact that we are FINALLY releasing this, seven years after starting, makes one aware of just how precise God is.” Not only that, with all the hype surrounding the release of Fifty Shades of Grey – the movie, based upon the novel of the same name written by E L James, it is no coincidence that Erika is releasing Struggle of Will by her initials, E L Scannell, and doing so during the same week. “Come on! Only God can take something as racy and controversial as Fifty Shades and turn it into something as beautiful as His hope, His grace. No, it’s not coincidence we share the same initials. It’s God! If people start searching ‘E L ...’ hopefully my story will pop up too!”
In addition, William would be eight now. According to biblical scholars, the number eight in the bible represents a new beginning, meaning a new order of creation, and a man’s true born again event. Winking, Erika says, “I’m not superstitious, and I don’t follow astrology. But I do believe that sometimes things are just a little too coincidental to be coincidental. Everything happens for a reason! And His timing is not my timing. That is so much easier to say than walk, but Kip and I have definitely had to walk it!” Purchase Erika's book at amazon.com.
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