I call my writing retreat near the continental divide my cave because it isolates me from modern distractions.

I was immersed in I, Saul,  my most ambitious fiction project since the Left Behind series, and I certainly didn’t need the annoying chirping I thought was coming from my computer.

Trying something entirely new, I tried to force myself to ignore the high-pitched sounds. Worthy Publishing wanted more than historical biblical fiction; they wanted something epic. No pressure there. We settled on The DaVinci Code meets The Robe.

That meant writing what amounted to two novels in one. Each chapter jumped back and forth from my present day hero, a seminary prof dragged into an international life and death chase, to First Century Rome where the Apostle Paul is writing his memoir while in prison awaiting execution.

Suddenly the chirping seemed to come from the fireplace.

Soon a panicky little bird flitted about the room, banging off the windows.

I hit Save, lit from my chair, and quickly removed the screens from two windows, using one to try to guide the bird out. Needless to say, it avoided me like I was a giant snake.

Then it darted down the hall into my workout room. I raced in there and opened two more windows, creating a draft behind me that sent all my research papers flying.

For several minutes the bird careened back and forth between rooms, desperately flinging itself at the windows I had not opened and ignoring the ones I had.

The lesson should already be obvious. I was the key to this creature’s freedom. I meant it no harm. I provided four means of escape. And yet it continued to try all the other—closed—avenues.

“C’mon, dude,” I muttered, not knowing whether it was in fact a dude, “I’m trying to help.”

I finally guided it to an open window and thought I heard it chirp a swear word as it escaped.

Soon I was before the keyboard again, on the one hand happy to be back in my element and on the other banging against windows while sensing an open one was nearby.

It was as if I could hear a still small voice reminding me, “C’mon, dude, I’m trying to help.”

I, Saul releases August 27. We’ll find out whether I learned anything from that little bird.

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