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Forevermore Literature

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Sensing the Spark: The First Inspiration for Chance in a Lifetime

Posted on May 22, 2021 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (26)

Every story, no matter how big or small, has some form of starting point; an origin or spark where it first came to be. Sometimes that origin is simply a seed to be planted, which may be cultivated over time or tended to later on in life. Such was the case for Chance in a Lifetime.

I love to share the story of the novel’s first conception for two main reasons. First, it connects a fictional story to very real and important concepts. Secondly, it illustrates how the smallest interactions or encounters can change the entire course of life or thinking.

Many years ago, I was a young college student working on my undergraduate degree in La Crosse, Wisconsin. At that time, writing was really only a hobby of mine, since I had different career aspirations. Therefore, I really was not looking for inspirations or ideas for stories at all. I lived in an apartment complex, and vividly remember a young lady and her dog living in my same building. I didn’t often have a chance to actually speak with them, since we seemed to keep different schedules.

However, one day I lugged my backpack full of textbooks into the main building door, where the mailboxes were also stationed. She was there by those mailboxes, and her beautiful Siberian Husky was on his back paws; his front paws braced on the arms of her wheelchair as he was trying very hard to reach a package on top of the silver rows of mailboxes. I paused for a very brief moment, taking in the image of this service dog working so hard to try and accomplish something so human-like. There was a spark of something that hit me – something warm, something very touching. Her hand was on his back, encouraging him in his work. That was beautiful to me. And so it took me a moment to snap from that semi-trance before I dropped my backpack and quickly went to help them retrieve that package.

She was very friendly and grateful for the help, and I was excited to meet her and her amazing assistance dog. After I complemented the pair on their teamwork, she was very happy to share more with me about the amazing things this beautiful and talented dog could do. My interest and admiration grew deeper as the conversation went on.

The concept of this bond between human and dog, the incredible capabilities of this dog and his motivation to be there for her, and the sheer joy in his face in her love and praise for him . . . I had no words at the time to put to any of it. I was so moved. What I do distinctly remember thinking was that someone needs to write about this. Someone needs to show how beautiful and important this is. Someone needs to share and celebrate this with the world.

And so, years later, I did.