Tag Archives: Writing

That moment when you realize,

“Hold up, this is my drawer, and I decide what goes in it,”

“This is my plate, and I decide what gets put on it,”

And you empty out all of the junk,

And scrape away all of the crap,

And you’re left with nothing.

And that’s frightening.

Because – nothing.

Because – more junk, more crap will come along, wanting to fill you.

And you have to say, “No. That’s not good enough for me.”

And nothing may be all you have for a really long time.

But you will have room when something comes along,

Something

Something

Something

That is worthy of you

That will hustle and match you, effort for effort

That will feed you, not just satisfy a craving.

You have to leave that room.

Stay empty.

Live in the nothing.

Live fully in the nothing.

Be royalty.

Work your ass off.

Feed yourself.

Others will follow.

 

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Independent Social Media Brand Consulting

Do you have a book on the market and no idea how to brand yourself or promote your book on social media? Today is your lucky day, because I am here to help.

I am here to get to know you and your book – with me, you will learn your audience and how to connect with it. I am here to provide you with a niche market analysis – with me, you will learn about other authors who write similar content, and what they’re doing to be successful. I am here to analyze and make your current social media platform more robust* – with me, you will learn strategies specific to your message and your book’s message to connect with and engage an online audience. I would also love to help you develop a media kit (complete with author bio, book synopsis, and pitch to solicit reviewers), strategies to find reviewers, build confidence in you, and connect with other industry professionals (editors, proofreaders, formatters, and designers).

So why choose me over thousands of other brand consultants? As an author myself, I’m right there in the trenches with you. I know how hard it is to balance writing and life even before you add the pressures of trying to figure out who you are in this saturated marketplace and then being that person. I know that just because a strategy works for every other author on the planet (and believe me, I’ve encountered no such strategy) does not mean it will work for you, because formulas are rigid, but as an individual, you are fluid. I know that unless you land a great publisher the costs for getting your book into shape and out on the market are ginormous, and that you really can’t afford to pay what someone like me should be making, so … I’m going to let you name your price. That’s right: you choose what services you need from me and you decide what you’re going to pay for them and when.

I am currently booking inspirational fiction and non-fiction authors through the end of October. I expect my schedule to fill quickly, so please email me at lydia.evelyn.thomas@gmail.com and tell me about yourself and your book. You will hear from me within 48 hours about whether or not I can take you on and how to proceed from there. I look forward to working with you!

*If you are not an author, but would like me to look at your business’ social media presence and breathe some life into it, I’d love to help you, too! I also do bios, resumes, and cover letters.

(Please feel free to share.)

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The Unplanter

The Unplanter

By Lydia Evelyn Thomas

(Copyright: Lydia Thomas 2016)

Once upon a time, there was woman who loved to plant seeds. Early each spring, she would rush to the market to carefully select the seeds she wanted to plant in the little garden behind her house. She especially loved looking at the pictures on the seed packets and imagining what her garden could be. Every year, after she had purchased them, she would hurry home to plant the different seeds in her garden, singing and skipping the entire way.

Like any good seed-planter, every year, she cleared the little plot of rocks and weeds and broke up the soil before painstakingly marking the rows where the seeds would go. Then she dropped the seeds into the dirt, one by one, and lovingly covered them with dirt.

In the days that followed, every year, she added fertilizer and water to the soil to make sure the seeds were getting the food and drink they needed. If it got too cold, she would cover the ground with blankets so the cold air couldn’t get to the seeds. And she always kept an eye out for weeds that might be trying to steal food and water from the seeds, or rocks that might be trying to keep the seeds from growing, or anything that might hurt the seeds.

She waited and waited, every year, for a week, at least, to see if anything would happen, and nothing ever did. She worried: were the seeds getting enough to eat and drink? Were the seeds getting too much to eat and drink? Were the seeds staying warm enough? Were they too warm? Was something hurting the seeds that she couldn’t see?

And so, every year, a few days after planting them, she dug up the seeds and returned them to the market.

“These seeds didn’t grow into anything,” she would say, spreading them out on the counter. “I’d like my money back, please.”

The man who sold her the seeds would frown, and every year, he told her this: “There is an old gardening term called staying.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that things have to stay planted in order to grow.”

The woman didn’t believe him, and so she continued planting seeds and digging them up for many years.

One year, early in the spring, the woman came to the market, excited as she always was to choose seeds that would make a beautiful garden.

“I’d like to see your seeds, please.”

The man who sold her seeds shook his head. “I’m not going to sell you any seeds this year.”

“Why not?”

The man shrugged. “It’s wasteful. You plant them, only to dig them up again. They can’t be used ever again after that.”

“I won’t dig them up this year, I promise. Please let me buy some seeds.

The man shook his head. He didn’t believe her. “We sell some plants in pots that have already been grown, if you’d like to buy some of those, but I cannot sell you any more seeds.”

The woman bought some pots in plants at his suggestion, but this year, unlike all the other years, she was not happy walking home from the market. She didn’t want plants that had already been grown. She very badly wanted to grow something of her own, from a seed.

Still, she set the plants on her front porch, and made sure to take care of them, every bit as well as she had taken care of seeds when she’d had them. One day, as she watered the plants, a man strolled by.

“Beautiful plants,” he said. “Did you grow them yourself?”

The woman sighed. “No. I bought them already grown. The market won’t sell me seeds anymore.”

“Why not?”

“When seeds don’t grow, I dig them up.”

“How long do you wait before digging them up?”

The woman put her hands on her hips. “I’ve waited as long as a week before.”

“Only a week? That’s not long enough!” The man smiled. “Seeds have to stay planted in order to grow.”

“That’s what the man at the market told me,” the woman said, “but what if something is wrong with the seeds? How will I know if I can’t see them?”

“Do you give the seeds food and water?” the man asked.

“Yes.”

“Do you keep weeds and rocks away from the seeds?”

“Yes.”

“Do you protect the seeds when it might get too cold or too hot for them?”

“Yes!” the woman exclaimed. “I do everything I’m supposed to do.”

“Everything except for letting the seeds stay planted,” the man said. “That’s the most important part.”

“But”- the woman protested.

“Seeds grow,” the man said. “It’s what they do. They just have to stay planted. I wish you could see it.”

“I wish I could see it, too,” the woman said, “but where will I get seeds? The market won’t sell them to me anymore.”

“I might have just the thing.” The man pulled a seed packet out of his pocket and held it out to the woman.

The woman looked down at it and frowned. “It doesn’t show what it will

be.”

“It doesn’t,” the man said, “but it’s the only seed I have.”

“There’s only one seed?” the woman asked, eyes wide.

The man smiled. “Only one, but legend has it that when it’s grown, it gives more seeds.” The woman just stared at him. “Plant it. You’ll see.”

“I guess it never hurts to try,” the woman said, taking the seed packet.

“Just remember,” the man said. “It will only grow if it stays planted.”

The very next morning, the woman went back to her garden. As she always did, she pulled up the weeds, picked out the rocks, and broke up the ground. Then she thought about where to plant the one seed. Should she plant it on the edge? Near a corner? In the middle? In the middle, she decided, and dug a small hole. Pulling the seed packet out of her sweater, she took a deep breath, and crouched to the ground. She shook the little seed out into the hole. It was so small and dark, she could barely see it. Slowly, she covered it with dirt, before standing and brushing off her knees.

The next day, the woman went to her garden again.  As she had done with the other seeds, she gave them food and water, working it into the soil with her trowel around where she knew the seed was planted. That night, when the air became colder, she covered the garden with blankets.

And, day after day, she watched for something to show her the seed was growing. A week went by, and then a month, and still she could see nothing above the dirt. She grew restless, and began running her hands through the dirt near where the seed was planted. Remembering the man’s words when he had given her the seed – “It will grow if it stays planted” – she stood up, brushed off her knees, and went inside.

Months went by, and still the woman cared for the garden, waiting. One day, after the dead autumn leaves had fallen and blown away, as the woman spread mulch over the soil for the winter months, she saw a small green chute where she had planted the seed so long ago.

“Well, that will never last the winter,” she said, hands on her hips.

She thought about digging it up, but again, she remembered, “It will grow if it stays planted.

“I don’t see how,” she muttered, but she spread mulch around the chute, and left it where it was.

The air became so cold and the ground froze so that the woman could no longer work in her garden. In fact, snow began to fall and fall until it was too high for her to even leave her house. She was certain the chute would die in the cold, and it made her sad.

At last, the air grew warmer, the snow melted, and the ground thawed, the woman went out to visit her garden.

The green chute was gone!

In its place was the tiniest of saplings, barely a foot tall.

The woman clapped her hands and bounced up and down. She was growing a tree! A tree!

“I’m glad I listened to that man and didn’t dig up the seed.”

She was so delighted that she went to the market to buy more seeds now that she had learned the secret to growing them, but the man who sold seeds laughed at her.

“You’re the woman who digs up seeds,” he said.

“I’m not anymore,” the woman said. “Last year, a man gave me a seed.”

“Who would give you a seed?” the man who sold seeds asked.

“I don’t know,” the woman said. “He was just passing by, but he told me to keep it planted, and I did. Now it’s going to be a tree.”

Again, the man who sold seeds laughed. “I don’t believe you.”

“Come and see,” the woman said and led him home to her garden. She pointed to the tiny sapling at the center.

The man who sold seeds squinted at it. “That looks like nothing more than an overgrown weed.”

“It’s a tree,” the woman insisted. “I know it’s a tree.”

“You don’t have the patience for a tree,” the man who sold seeds said, turning and walking away.

“I do now,” the woman said. “Please, sell me some seeds. I’ll show you.”

“I will never sell you seeds again.”

The woman was very sad, because she loved to plant seeds, and now that she’d seen how they could grow, she wanted to see it again and again. How could she, though, if she couldn’t buy seeds?

Suddenly, she brightened. The man who  had given her the seed had said something about it making more seeds. A legend, he had said, so maybe it wasn’t true at all, but the idea gave the woman hope.

Throughout the spring and summer, the woman tended her garden as usual, watching the sapling for signs of seeds.  Then the air began to cool, and she prepared her garden for the winter. There were no seeds, but perhaps, like everything else, it just took time for them to come.

Years passed, and every year, the woman cared for her garden, and every year, the tree grew taller and wider around, until it far surpassed the woman’s height and width. It was majestic, with many branches, and green needles that never lost their color nor fell to the ground, no matter how cold the air became. Year after year, there were no seeds, and the woman began to think the legend surrounding the tree was just a story. Still, she was quite proud of her tree.

One year, small brown cones sprouted on the branches in the spring and fell to the ground in the crisp autumn air. The woman went through her garden plucking them up into a bucket, thinking they would decorate her house nicely, when she found a cone that had split open during its fall.

The woman knelt down to look closer at the split cone and gasped. Seeds of all shapes and sizes were spilling out of it! Seeds! The woman pulled a cone out of her bucket and pried it open. There were seeds inside of it, too!

“Those seeds aren’t good enough to use yet.”

The woman turned to see who was speaking to her. It was the man who had given her the seed.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“The tree isn’t fully mature yet,” the man said, “so any seeds it produces aren’t ready to be planted. If you put those in the ground, they’ll just rot.”

The woman’s lip quivered. “How long will it be until they’re ready?”

The man gazed at the seeds, picking some of them and holding them in his hands. “I’d say, about … five years.”

“Five years?” the woman whispered, eyes wide.

The man nodded.

The woman pointed to the seeds. “So these aren’t good for anything?”

The man smiled. “Actually, they’re quite delicious roasted with butter and spices.”

“You want me to eat them?” the woman asked.

“You don’t have to,” the man said. “It’s just a thought.”

After that, the man went on his way, and the woman continued preparing her garden for winter.

Once inside, she roasted the seeds as the man had suggested. He was right: they were tasty prepared this way. As she ate them, the woman thought that five years wasn’t so long with such good food on her table and such a beautiful tree in her garden.

Even so, the next spring, the woman had a heavy heart as she went to clear the weeds and rocks and break up the soil in her garden. Where it had always been something she loved doing, now it was hard. She took many breaks, and thought often of leaving the work altogether. The only thing that kept her working was knowing that she needed to keep the ground ready for when the seeds were ready.

It wasn’t much, but it held the woman  until, at last, the spring of the fifth year came. With a thrill, she hurried out to her garden. This fall, the seeds in the cones would be ready, and next spring, she would plant them. Throughout the summer, she watched the cones eagerly. Finally, autumn came, and the cones began to fall, slowly at first, then all at once. Out the woman went to her garden with her bucket to gather them. She soon found that one bucket was not enough for all of the cones, and gathered bucket after bucket until not one cone was left on her garden floor.

As the snow fell that year, the woman went to work opening the cones, emptying the seeds onto her table, and sorting them into packets. She sorted and packaged so many seeds she thought she might need a bigger garden. She wondered what all of the seeds would grow up to be – would they all be trees? She would have to wait and see.

When she finished, leaving just a handful of seeds to roast, the woman stored the seeds in a warm, dry cupboard until spring. Then, as she swept up the remaining seeds from the table to put them in the roasting pan, one in particular caught her attention. It was small and dark, just like the one the man had given her to plant so many years ago.

Excited, the woman ran to get one more seed packet, thinking how lovely her garden would eventually be with two such trees. She paused: maybe someone else needed this seed, like she had all those years ago. And so, the woman decided not to plant it, but to set it aside and get it to someone who needed it, instead.

It seemed like no time at all passed until the woman was looking over her garden the following summer.  Now, instead of just the tree, flowers, plants, and small bushes populated the garden. There were blooms and bulbs and fruits and vegetables of all kinds forming almost everywhere. There were still some areas where there were no signs of anything growing, but the woman knew there would be someday.

“It’s a beautiful garden.”

The woman didn’t need to turn to know it was the man who had given her the seed.

She smiled as he came to stand at her side. “It took long enough for it to come together.”

“The strongest, most beautiful things need that time,” the man said.

The woman pulled a seed packet out of her pocket.

“What’s this?”

The woman pointed at the tree. “A seed. Thought you might come across someone who needs it.”

The man smiled. “Actually, I think you’ll come across someone who needs it.”

“When?”

The man winked. “Soon.”

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The Green Monster

Open thoughts on a personal circumstance.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:13-18 NIV).

I do not see myself as the type of person who has anything that anyone else might want.

In fact, my experience with the Green Monster has largely been my wanting what a lot of other women my age have: namely, a career, a husband, a home, and a mess of kids to love on.  Wouldn’t you know, though, I don’t want just any career, or husband, or home, or mess of kids to love on.  No, I have a specific calling and vision on my life from God, so it seems I must wait.  This seems more than a little unfair to me, especially in a season where many of my friends are marrying off, and if God were a statistical being, I’m sure He’d have a large percentage representing the time I’ve spent crying about how I want my life to be together now.  He’s certainly seen it this year as I’ve watched people headed for the altar and whined (many, many times), “I want that.”  Yeah, not pretty.

And because I’m in the habit of thinking my existence is so lacking regarding career and husband options, especially in these last few months, I am shocked when someone wants the life that I have.  In fact, even when it’s clear to everyone around me, it’s the last thing that occurs to me.  It astounds me: someone who has everything I want  wants what I have.

I wonder for several days why I didn’t catch this off the bat, until two things dawn on me:

  • I didn’t realize how blessed I am to be able to do what I do
  • The Green Monster didn’t exactly appear envious, it paraded itself as wisdom

I have two part-time jobs.  You (my followers) have heard this a number of times from me, and how exhausting keeping that pace can be.  What I have not stressed enough is the flexibility this allows.  Neither of these jobs include responsibilities that extend beyond the time limits of my shifts. (Usually. There was, like, this one time).  In other words, my work stays at work, so when I come home, I can focus on other things.  Although I live with family and spend time with them, I am mostly free (being unmarried and childless) to focus on things besides family as well.  Guess where most of my free focus goes? Writing, of course! And I love to write! Writing energizes me; it is my chief catharsis.  The remainder of my focus goes towards building a readership, not just for The Field, but for future work as well: I develop content for this blog, Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest, and now Google+.  I’m digging into book themes and characters, utilizing tools that generate interest in my work.  Writing and networking with readers (and writers) is my third part-time job.  I enjoy what I do, but amidst the longing for the career and the husband and the (eventual) children, I forget how blessed I am to be able to do it.  I have something a lot of  women with any combination of the things I long for do not typically have: time.  And it took the Green Monster coming a-knocking for me to repent of my whiny-ness before God and have a serious attitude adjustment.  I can sincerely say that I would not have my life any other way at this moment.

But back to the Green Monster, and the way it presented itself, because it didn’t look like envy until I inspected it more closely.  It tried to pass itself off as experience, I think quite successfully, except it wasn’t my experience.  That didn’t stop experience from taking on a little pride in the way it did things, perhaps not realizing I have a diverse host of experiences within arm’s length, so I took on a little pride myself and explained that. I tried unsuccessfully to bring it back to joy and satisfaction in what I’d been called to do, but it didn’t take.  I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to twist my joy and satisfaction in God’s calling on my life into something negative. It took every ounce of will power not to escalate the situation and cry “SPIRITUAL WARFARE! Get thou behind me, Satan!” right then and there, trust me.

It took me a little over a week, though, to understand my ability to do things differently was what made experience reach out the way it did, not what I was actually doing, and that made it not experience at all, but envy.  This person could not do what I could do, not having what I have: the time to do it, and really so much more importantly, the call to do it.

Still, it’s more than a little irritating.  I would never take the calling to a career, or to be a wife, or a homemaker, or a mom and turn it into something negative simply because I couldn’t have –  oh wait.

There’s that woman in her power suit, rushing to get out of the store where I work to get back to her job.  She snatches the receipt, and runs out the door, cutting me off mid-sentence.  And I think, or perhaps remark to a neighboring cashier,  Lady, you need to take a chill pill.  If your job makes you that uptight, it can’t possibly be worth it.  I know I wouldn’t want it. Except, I do.  For some reason, a big part of me wants to be that successful (if not uptight) woman in the power suit.

There’s the woman snapping at her husband (or significant other), and I think, What’s the point of marriage/relationships if this is all there is? I don’t want that. Except, I do.  And of course there are those statistically-problematic pastor’s marriages that I’ve told the world I don’t want either.  Except, part of me kind of does – I want a husband who takes care of people for a living.  The fact is, no one wanting to be a pastor in his right mind, would want me to be the woman at his side, and that kills me a little, but it’s less bruising to my ego to just say I don’t want it.

There’s the tired mom and homemaker, trying to lasso her young brood in the grocery store, rather unhappily and impatiently. If parenting makes her this unhappy, why on earth does she have all of them?  And I thank God, because I don’t want to be in her position.  Except, of course, I do.

Silly, isn’t it? These things I want? I am willing to tear them down, not because I don’t want them, but because I don’t have them. Envy will make you do and say strange things, things that may seem logical, but they’re driven by that great swindler of joy: comparison.

Silly, isn’t it?  As women, we have small windows into one another’s experiences.  We see moments of positivity or negativity and we shrewdly base our judgments of that person upon them.  We compare our full experience to the glimpse we have at another.

So, I want to offer some true wisdom to those of us who struggle with envy.

Enjoy your own calling. “This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 NIV).  Doing what God has called you to do is a great source of true joy because it will keep your eyes fastened on Him, not on other people and how they are handling their callings.

Let go of your definition of success. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy” (James 4:12a NIV).  You are going to give an account to God, so you only need to be who He has called you to be.  His judgment is the only one that holds any gravity: let go of your own, let go of others’, and let go of your own for others.

Think a little less of yourself. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3a NIV).  Don’t ever put yourself in a position where you think you know what’s best for everyone.  Equally dangerous can be the position where you justify everything you do to another person. 

Are you doing what God has called you to do? Great! Do it.  And assume (unless it’s a situation that is CLEARLY against God’s will as stated in the Bible) that’s what other people are doing as well.

 

 

 

 

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Switching Gears

It’s July 1st.  Can you believe it? Yeah, neither can I.

The Field Giveaway Sweepstakes ended yesterday and we have a winner: Alyssa Helfrich.  Congratulations, Alyssa, and happy reading!

In the days and months since publishing The Field, I’ve been dealing with a lot of different life stuff.

I’ve shared on here about how over fifteen months ago I effectively walked away from what I had been preparing myself for in the four years leading up to that point.  I felt like God was calling me to something different, although I had no idea what that was.  So I walked away from my plans into His.

Well, last night, on my way home from work, I’m whining to God because I walked away from my plans over fifteen months ago, and I have nothing to show for it.  And I hear this whisper, Excuse Me? You’re an hour and a half away from a giveaway for a book you wrote! Nothing to show for it? And I was sorry at that point, because God is right. There is no way, had I continued in the path I had prepared for, that I would have finished my book.  I am the writer who has prioritized every other thing above her writing.  Instead of giving me what I’d been begging for, God gave me independence and a flexible schedule.

Why?  Because for this season, writing is my something better.  This is what God has given me to do.  And while I have my moments wishing I had a career or a romantic relationship,  I really, truly love what God has me doing right now.

Writing being what God has called me to, my writing is opposed.  I don’t mean the message of my writing is opposed (it may well be, but I haven’t had any haters yet, so…); I mean the act of prioritizing writing and sitting down to write is opposed.  For me, it is always tempting to put it off and do something else instead.  Most of all will probably not believe me, but the week I wrote the climax of The Field was one of the most stressful weeks of my life: I was anxious about money, anxious about getting another job, my carpal tunnel was flaring up and my neck was so stiff I couldn’t move my head. I don’t think it had anything to do with what I was writing (although, I do love the climax of The Field), I think it was just the fact that I was writing. The reality is that when I’m writing, I’m living fully, and I have an enemy who loves to see me scrape along.

Forget him! I’m only interested in finding joy in what God has given me to do.

That being said, I’m enjoying exploring the themes of The Field here on my blog, and sincerely hope what you read here compels you to buy a copy soon! While I’ll continue facilitating discussions on those themes, it’s time to switch gears.

This month I began work on what will be my next book (maybe novel)! The big title unveiling will be on August 1, 2014, but I’m dedicating the month of July to writing about the themes in this new project.  In fact, most of my social media postings (including Pinterest!) will be geared towards the new project.  On one hand, I’m excited about this project, on the other, it involves a lot of things I’m a little scared to talk about (even in a completely fiction setting).

So bring on July!

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On The Redemption of Bad Characters

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” ~Miss Prism, The Importance of Being Earnest

Okay, so confession: I first watched The Importance of Being Earnest around a month ago with my family.  Before that time, I had never read or seen the play.  (I know, I know.  I am going to sit myself in a corner just as soon as I finish this). Anyway, this particular quote provoked an unladylike snort (as my sister the Barefoot Hippie Girl likes to say) from me.

On one hand, the idea of a person getting what’s coming to them is incredibly appealing to me. Since that doesn’t happen often in my real world experiences, a big part of me likes this ideal to be upheld in fiction at least.  You know, what goes around, comes around.  Karma. You reap what you sow.  All of that.

On the other hand, where is the redemption, the grace in that?

I really like the TV Show Once Upon a Time.  I mean, I really like it.  The characters are all so human, even the bad ones.  None of them are purely good, and none of them are completely evil.  I think that is the show’s strength (it’s relatable), and it’s also its weakness. The show almost seems to be in denial about the existence of sheer evil – it is too concerned with its villains’ motivations.  I love Regina and how she’s trying, and even Rumpel has his moments,  I just happen to think there is a level of evil that is only motivated by evil itself: straight up evil.

At what point do creators of these characters look at them and determine that enough is enough? That they cannot be redeemed? That they have made an irrevocable, damnable choice that they cannot recover from? How is that decision made?

While writing The Field, I had a character I wanted to destroy at the end.  A character that absolutely, positively had it coming.  But when I came up on the time for this character to be destroyed, I found myself with a dilemma.  Rather than wanting to destroy this character, I wanted this character to find redemption instead,  but because I’m a big believer in grace and mercy.  But what about what this character deserved? What about all of the terrible things this character had done?

I wrestled for a long time before I made a decision about the fate of that character. (No, I’m not going to tell you what I decided. You’re just going to have to read The Field for yourself!) Honestly, I’m still wrestling – not with The Field, but with how I will handle this in my future writing.

So fellow character creators and consumers…

Are there things a character really cannot come back from? What point is that for you?

If there is nothing a character cannot come back from, is there such a thing as absolute evil?

And what are the real life implications of how we deal with redemption and evil in fiction?

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Plot Twist

I’m supposed to be writing a science fiction story, Update.  I say supposed to be because I’ve been kicking the concept around in my mind for the past five months and even have a couple thousand words written, but it’s not gelling.  And when I say it’s not gelling, I mean I have no idea where I’m going with it.

I’m going to set it aside for awhile and focus on something that’s been inside of me for a lot longer than the science fiction story, but (as with The Field) I want to put it in a fiction setting.  I’m not ready to share anything about it yet, just that I’m switching gears from what I have been working on.  I’m putting Update in my pile of things to come back to.

Today seems to be a day for switching gears and plot changes, as I’m also setting Seattle aside for a little while. (No one is more shocked about that than me).  I still want to go, but as I mentioned in my Getting Free post, I’m still dealing with consequences of decisions I made years ago, and there is no easy way out.  It will be at least the end of August next year before I am free to go (anywhere, not just Seattle), unless something miraculous happens.  And I’m not saying it won’t, but in my experience, it’s not likely either, so you know, adjusting my expectations just seems like a better idea than hoping.

So here’s to the next fourteen months.  Here’s to working hard in my jobs and as a writer.  Here’s to putting down roots until I’m transplanted, if I’m ever transplanted.  Here’s to freedom that’s closer than six years ago and two years ago. Here’s to sucking it up and being a robot when I need to just get through the day.  Here’s to not waiting anymore.

The less glamorous side of my wilderness adventure.

 

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In The Arena

This is the story of how I entered the arena.

I came across this quote nearly two years ago when I was editing and writing the FortyOne20 blog:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat” (Theodore Roosevelt).

The FortyOne20 blog was always a place of analysis and critical thinking, but when I saw this quote, I felt a conviction about how critical I was being about gender portrayal in film:

“Most of the film theory classes  I took in college dealt with gender on some level, but it was always from a humanist perspective. At the same time, God was dealing with me personally on His ideas about gender, and I became extremely dissatisfied with how men and women are portrayed in movies. I genuinely believe there is reason to be concerned with these portrayals.

“However, if you watch the movies I’ve made, none of them address gender issues” (Lydia Thomas).

One month after I published this post, I began work, not on a film, but on a written story. The Field tackles a theme I’m dying to see Hollywood tackle: redeemed womanhood.  As in, what changes in a fallen woman’s life when she is loved unconditionally? Of course, The Field also deals with spiritual warfare, and legalism, and crises of the faith, and a number of other things, but womanhood…that’s what I went into the arena to talk about.

And I did.

But I’ve been dealing with a level of discouragement about my book.  Normal stuff, I think.  I get to thinking about how it’s not that great, and it could be better because it can always be better, and I don’t want to release it and not have anybody who “gets” it.

And I forget.  This one is not really about readership.  It’s about having written it.  It’s about having gotten out of my critic’s seat and entered the arena to put up a fight for what I strongly believe in.

It’s different in the arena.  I find myself less critical of others, and am able to be less critical of myself.  I find myself satisfied with where I am, at this moment, knowing I am in this to grow and develop as a writer – not just to grow and develop one piece of work.

I will continue exploring gender and spiritual themes in my writer.  Next time, I will do it better.  The time after that will be the even better.  And I will grow and grow and grow.

At least, I must keep telling myself, I am finally in the arena.

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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Writer Regrets

My greatest fear as a writer is not really letting the world read my work.  The person I am most intimidated about reading my work is my future self.  I am afraid that in five or ten years I will look back on my work today and think it is nothing special, that it’s not very good.  That I’ll wish I’d written things differently.

Given enough time, I become my own harshest critic.  That is the truth.

As I was really considering this several weeks ago, a story was trending about J. K. Rowling.  She mentioned that if she could go back and do it again, Ron and Hermione wouldn’t end up together, and something about personal wish fulfillment.

That’s when I realized: of course as I grow as a writer I will begin to see more of the flaws in my own writing.  The difference is that now I’m okay with it.  If J. K. Rowling can look back on a series that so many people love and talk about things she sees differently now, I can certainly do that.

The point is not perfection.  The point is to put myself out there, and grow in the process.

Must keep reminding myself of this!

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Unlovable

I wrote a poem this afternoon, thinking about stuff.

Unlovable

our generational curse

bequeathed to us by matriarchs

who pushed the bounds

and found the limits

too far

and too late

Unlovable

our burden to know

and feel like frauds

if we don’t let others see

and experience our unlovable-ness

too big

for just ourselves

Unlovable

we become like them

like our foremothers

constantly pushing and proving

to ourselves

Unlovable

and yet we’re loved –

a complete mystery to us

it’s wrong

it’s all wrong

it’s so wrong

for we are

and always will be –

can never be anything but

Unlovable

they prove it, too

don’t they?

when they make mistakes

loving us

and we learn it again

as if we could ever forget it

we are

Unlovable

 

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