Monthly Archives: October 2013

Finishing

Let me begin this by saying that my finishing any of my fiction works is a long-standing joke among my younger siblings and I.  Nobody who is familiar with my work in this area expects me to finish.  And I have stopped expecting myself to finish.  In fact, the last time I finished a fiction work (outside of play and movie scripts) was a short story I finished around ten years ago called The Little Glass Slippers.  In the meantime, I have started half a dozen novels, all of which are awaiting completion, except for one, which I finished early this morning.

The Field.

I think I am actually more proud of myself for finishing than I am of what I wrote, because finishing has always been such a colossal issue for me, even when I was very young.

Some writers are intimidated by beginnings, but I would say exposition (the bringing forth of characters and narrative) is my greatest strength as a writer.  I even work out resolution (the ending) reasonably well. I wrestle with development (the middle).  I struggle determining the events through which my characters will grow and have changed by the end.  When I was very young, I would set up my characters and the story, and I’d be so completely pooped by the end of that (it took lots of time/chapters), I would jump straight to the finish, by saying something like, “Ten years later so-and-so and so-and-so came together and all of their problems were solved,” without telling how the conflict was resolved.  If you think about it when you’re reading, that’s the part of the story we all love, not the beginning, not the end, but the middle, yet it’s my least favorite to write.  (Also, as an aside, my least favorite to live sometimes too).

To make matters worse, I revise while I write.  I’ll be fifty or sixty pages in and think, “This should really be a different way,” and then I start over.  From the beginning.  (By the way, this is why my beginnings are so strong: by the time anyone else reads them, I’ve probably revised them a dozen times).  Sometimes, I’ll hit a creative block, and instead of pushing through, I will, you guessed it, go back to the beginning and start over.  I push a little bit further ahead every time I re-write, but my perfectionism has been counter-productive to actually finishing anything.

And I’m terrified.  I put my heart and soul into my fiction writing.  And once a project is finished, the time comes to show it to people.  And people can be brutal.  I’m not talking about constructive criticism about narrative flow or grammatical issues, I’m talking about people who are willing to tell a thirteen-year-old girl there is no point to what she has written.  (Yes, that really happened).  What if people don’t get it, and because they don’t get it, throw me as a writer to the curb?  What if I make the mistake of believing them, and give up on myself as a writer? You may think that’s ridiculous, but I promise you, it has happened before.

I cried a little bit when I discovered my exposition for The Field was forty-five pages, because that meant I still had to write at least ninety pages, all things being equal. (And they were not).  For the most part, when I was writing a particular chapter, it was like a movie in my head: I could see all of the different things that were happening.  (I swear I’m not crazy).  So when I sat down and focused myself on writing, it kind of just poured out of me.  I was worried that I was never going to get to the end, because things just kept happening (in the story).  Eventually, the middle built to the point where I knew I was coming up on the climax, and Sunday evening, I was able to sit down and lay out what I wanted to happen and when.  I was pretty discouraged again when information I had hoped to convey in two chapters was stretched to eight chapters.  Then, like I wasn’t expecting it, the climactic scene was there last night, and I was able to write the dénouement to not just end the story (I had known how I wanted it to end since the beginning) but to fully complete it.

There were times during the writing process that I became creatively blocked, and at the beginning of this particular version, I started over, again and again.  In mid-August, I decided this wasn’t acceptable anymore, and promised myself I would push through any creative awkwardness to the end.  My resolve in this has been tested over and over, but I pushed through, even when I had to stare at a blinking cursor for thirty minutes to do it.  It helped to journal a little bit before hand, to get any other mind-hoggers out before writing.  And the MOST helpful thing, were the dear people with whom I could share the bumps and struggles, and they prayed me through. (I strongly suspect there were also dear people that I didn’t share with and they also prayed me through).

Being honest, I’m still scared.  I have a final edit, which could take me upwards of two weeks to complete, but then it’s time to hand my baby over to real-life editors.  After that, I’m considering publishing, which would bring it to an even larger audience. I am certain there are people who will hate the message of The Field, and will develop a strong dislike for me by extension.  I expect that.  I also know I have people in my life who will make it all about them, when really, it’s just a story, and if they’re bothered by it, they maybe need to pray about why.  These are the people I am most afraid of.

But I’m going to do it, even though I’m scared, even though I know it will never be perfect, even though it’s longer and more in depth than I ever intended for it to be.  Why? Because The Field, although not my favorite work, is by far more important than anything I have ever written.

Because I finished it.

Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of The Field here through June 30th, 2014 or purchase your copy today.

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I’d Already Be in Seattle If…

I’d already be in Seattle if

  • I had a dollar for every time I’ve been admonished to “watch out for vampires.” (Thanks for that, Stephanie Meyer).
  • I had a dollar for every time someone has referenced Grey’s Anatomy.
  • I had a dollar for every time I’ve been informed it rains there … a lot. (I’m not the wicked witch of the west, I won’t melt).
  • I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked, “Why Seattle?” (My counter question: Why NOT Seattle?)

Maybe I’m exaggerating a little.

I’d at least have money to fill my gas tank.

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Crossroads

I am tired of fighting, fighting, fighting and going nowhere.  I can’t afford to go nowhere anymore.  But I tell myself to keep fighting because who knows when this will all turn around, and suddenly I’ll be where I’m supposed to be.  I’m so desperate, that if the lesser is offered to me this week, I think I will take it because it will be good enough.  Why continue to live at 33% for who knows how much longer, when I can live at 90%?  Is it really worth the wait for 100%?

Some people will say, yes, just wait for it.  On my better days, I say, yes, just wait for it.  But this is not one of my better days, or weeks, or months, and I have waited and fought just long enough that I no longer care too much.

I’d rather have the better, I would, but what if it never comes?

 

 

Almost There

I know, I know.  I’ve been saying that a lot lately, and I mean it every single time.  I especially mean it this time, though.

Over the past ten days, I have hunkered down over The Field, being all anti-social, trying to get this novel finished.  Me and my laptop and Gungor Radio on Pandora.  Finally, last night before I started writing, I sat down and asked myself, “Okay, what needs to happen to get to the end?” And I made a plan of action.

My goal is to be done on or before Friday.  I look forward to being able to say “All done” instead of “Almost there.”

Eek!

Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of The Field here through June 30th, 2014 or purchase your copy today.

To Love Mercy

“What can we bring to the Lord? What kind of offerings should we give him? Should we bow before God with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy,  and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:6-8 NLT).

I shared yesterday I’m trying to get into the habit of asking myself questions during my personal times with God, to better challenge myself in growing closer to Him, so I don’t become complacent in my relationship with Him.

It’s easy for me to read the Old Testament prophets and think of their applications to the nation of Israel, or to meditate on the God who restores. (All well and good, by the way).  But how do I challenge myself to apply their messages in my life?

I was convicted by the verses above, particularly the phrase “to love mercy.” The Lord requires me to love mercy.  He says it’s good.  And I had to ask myself: “Do I love mercy?”

Mercy.  The withholding of the deserved in favor of that which is not deserved (grace).

Honestly, I’m drawn to the idea of revenge.  Some of my favorite phrases are “what goes around comes around” and “stickin’ it to the man.”  You get the picture.  Every Monday I take an hour to watch one of my favorite shows, where the heroine is slowly destroying a family that destroyed hers many years ago.  There is something deeply satisfying as she takes them out, one by one. (Except for the past few weeks, when her plan seems to be backfiring).  I even deal with the concept of revenge in some of my own comedic work: getting back at people is great fodder for comedy.  I’ve never taken a serious look at the implications of revenge in my creative work, although I’ll probably have to soon.

In real life, though, I’m not a vengeful person. I don’t plot anyone’s takedown when they hurt me or anything like that.  In fact, I am more likely to choose mercy in real life situations.  But do I love it?

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

I think part of the reason a lot of my comedy writing has revenge/payback at its core is because it IS my passive way of exacting vengeance on the people who have wronged me.  They’d never know it, but I know, and God most certainly knows. And I think it’s okay, because a) it’s fiction and b) they’ll never know.

I don’t love mercy; at least, not yet. I’m sure I will get there.

Soul-Searching Saturdays

Keep asking until you understand why you feel this way.

Fight to know the answer.

I’ve been discouraged the past ten days or so.  I’ve been sad and irritable.  I know what the surface issue is, and it would have been comfortable for me to accept the surface issue, because I don’t control it.  I wanted to just slap a Band-Aid on it, and blame it on the surface issue.

It’s easier that way.

But the problem is not that surface issue, but what lies deeper.  In my heart.

This hunger, this thirst to be challenged.  This hunger, this thirst to be held accountable.

Believe it or not, it goes even deeper.

Why is it not enough for God alone to challenge me? Why can I not keep myself accountable before Him alone? Why do I need the human version of these things?

I’m still thinking of God too abstractly.  His challenging me and holding me accountable is not something I think about as a reality.  People are (in this area) more real to me than God is.

Please don’t take this to mean that I don’t want to be or don’t think I need to be challenged or accountable; I think it’s a vital part of being in the body of Christ.  But I should have enough self-discipline to make a commitment privately and before God, and stick to that commitment without anyone else knowing about it.

I guess like so many other things in this life, it’s a balancing act.

Just some notes from my Saturday Soul Search.

Like Giving Birth

Finishing a novel is like giving birth.  You may say, “How do you know?”  I don’t.  I really don’t.  I’ve never given birth, and don’t expect to any time in the near future.

It just seems like pregnancy and delivery would be an apt analogy for writing a novel.

Spending all of that time writing; developing characters and plots.  It gets uncomfortable at times, pushing through awkward scenes to get relevant information across.  The hard part comes at the end, when it’s almost done, and you just have to make it through that final stretch to finish.  After, that it’s all about polishing it up and presenting it to the world.

Finishing a novel might actually be harder than giving-

Never mind.

I wouldn’t use this analogy at all, because I feel unworthy, not having been through the giving birth business personally.  I’ve started using it though because I saw my older sister use it once in reference to a blog post, and she’s given birth four times, so she should know.  And if she can use it about blogging, surely I can use it about finishing my novel.

Maybe not though.

Point is, I’m up in that final stretch right now, pushing, pushing, pushing to the end.

I am almost there.

Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of The Field here through June 30th, 2014 or purchase your copy today.

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Emmanuel

It’s that season. Christmas program season.  Actually, it’s been most of this year for me. I was asked to help in January, and began bouncing around ideas at the beginning of March.  I think I’m struggling being present in this season the way I want to be because I’ve been in it so very long.  My thoughts on it are stale.

Last night as I was writing, I was listening to Pandora and this song played.  It’s “Here” by Kari Jobe.

“Breathe in / Breathe out / You will / You will find him here.”

I cried, because I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. So much has already been done, but there is so much to do.  And I just don’t feel inspired like I did in March.

God is with me.

Refocus my heart, Lord.

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Approval Ratings

I used to be hungry for approval, like I’m sometimes hungry for food.  I’d gone my life without it, then I tasted it, and fell in love with it.  Suddenly, I needed it.  And like I do with food when I’m extremely hungry, I took what I could get.

Then I learned the hard way.  Approval is a weapon wielded by those who possess its power.  It’s never a weapon in the hand of the one trying to earn it.  I stopped wanting it when I realized people were trying to control me by withholding it.

It turned bitter in my mouth.

God never intended me to be striving for the approval of the human race.  His approval is all I care about anymore.

“For do I now seek to persuade men, or God? Or do I seek the approval of man? If I sought the approval of man, I would not be the bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

Yesterday somebody made a series of comments that there was no point in doing what he does if nobody saw it.  And I suppose somebody seeing it motivates this person.  It doesn’t motivate me, and that’s a good thing.  If I only worked on things people could see, I’d never get my novel done.  I’d only write this blog.  I would think, “What’s the point of writing at all, if nobody can read it?”

The point is that I’m doing something I enjoy, I’m being obedient to God by pursuing my writing, whether people see it or not. My enjoyment brings delight to the heart of my Father.  He sees and He is pleased with what I’m doing.

You Are a Warrior Princess

An excerpt from The Field.

You are strong and capable of great victories.  You are not ruled by fear or lies; no, you conquer fear with courage, and lies with lies with truth.  You overcome darkness because you radiate light.  You are a fighter, not a quitter.  You persevere through struggle and grow more valorous because of it.

You have been adopted by the King and you are a royal daughter.  All the rights and responsibilities of that position are yours.  You are respected, loved, adored.  You have the resources of the Kingdom at your disposal.  You lead the people in what you do and how you behave.  Your beauty inspires greatness because you emanate the majesty of your position.

My Warrior Princess, a great war is coming, and you will be called upon to fight.  Your training begins now.

The things I need to be reminded of.

Don’t forget to enter for your chance to win a copy of The Field here through June 30th, 2014 or purchase your copy today.

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