Inside the soul of a writer

The Nature of Friendship

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about friendship, and I wrote a post for my other blog about it, http://thrivingingrace.com/whats-comes-next-friendship/. I’ve been trying to work out how friendship is going to look in the next stage of my life. I’ve also been working my way through some loneliness for the past few months that I’ve hoped the answers to my friendship questions would resolve. In my own life, answers have been coming, but I think they would have come sooner if I had remembered the information I’m going to write about today. Friendship happens in stages which I think would be helpful for all of us to remember.

Nowadays, almost anything can be googled on the Internet with many results being available in seconds. The topic of friendship is not immune. I found that I had been skipping over some stages of friendship in order to achieve the close friendships I was looking for. I had also been trying to put people in my life into categories where they did not fit. And, I think this is the most important, I had been trying to imprint my Christian faith onto friendships that weren’t necessarily ready for that level of closeness

I am grateful to the writer of the article I found, Jermaine Tucker, and what he wrote on humans.media about the stages of friendship. It echoed what someone else in my life had told me about friendship. We need to give friendships time to develop like we give dating relationships. We also need to realize that some friendships might not ever pass by the casual friendship stage even though we might profess the same faith.

Here are the stages and a brief description of each quoted from Mr. Turner’s article which also referenced Waiting and Dating by Dr. Myles Munroe.

1) “Stranger–the lack of awareness of another’s existence.”

2) “Acquaintance or Associate–the occasional interacting that you experience with a person.”

3) “Casual Friend–where a person can actually say that they know a person.” Most interactions stay at this place because a person is not interested in emotionally investing in another person for whatever reason.

4) “Close Friend–people have invested in each other personally and emotionally. Both people have seen each other at their best and at their worst, and they have stayed around regardless.”

5) “Intimate Friend–an individual who you are familiar with. This stage is attained over time, through shared experiences, and most important, through vulnerability.”

I had been trying to put intimate friendship characteristics onto people who, by all rights, should stay in the casual friend stage. No wonder I was frustrated and lonely. People weren’t interested in what I had to say, and I wasn’t getting it. They didn’t want me to be vulnerable in front of them. In fact, I felt like I was the only one who wasn’t getting it so I was relieved to find that trying to jump friendship levels is fairly common. Many of us do it without even thinking about it. People can think they are BFF’s one minute, and the next minute be sworn enemies. I’ve gotten old enough now though that I’m no longer interested in those rapid shifts. I want to know that the close friendships I feel are reciprocated so I know what to expect, and I want to know that people are actually interested in sharing life with me before I am vulnerable in front of them.

Hope this has been helpful for someone.

Have a great day, everyone!

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Life is Short

I was struggling with what to write this week. I had thought of beginning to include some short fiction pieces in this blog so I could continue my practicing in public, but nothing was coming to me. Then, I started looking through one of my writing prompt books, and I found a question. This question, along with events that have happened in the last few days, gave me my answer. Here’s the prompt. “What is something you have learned in the past few days?”

The answer, of course, is today’s title, but there is so much more than just those three words. I’m not going to go into detail about the events themselves to preserve my friends’ privacy. I just want to write about how they affected me personally. As you can imagine, both events had a “life is short” theme, and I thought about what I had been working through for the past few months. Thought about how I had felt awkward showing my true self because I wanted to fit in and feel less lonely. Thought about how I had felt my true self wasn’t worthy to be shown even though I am a daughter of God. Thought about how I had felt like I was standing on a precipice.

But, God showed me where my thinking had been wrong, and I said, “Enough!” He reminded me of Psalm 139:13-15. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” He made me the way I am, and He wants me to acknowledge it as I live my life in His service. Just because another Christian brother or sister is doing something doesn’t mean God wants me to do it and just because others feel the need to put up shields doesn’t mean I have to. My true self is worth showing! I’m going to show it, and if someone doesn’t like it, that’s too bad. God has too much work for me to do to reach those on the edges for me to do otherwise. Life is too short for me to try to fit into a mold even if that mold is the church. God doesn’t call for us to fit into a mold either. He calls for us to have a heart like His, and I know He wants me to show my true self as I share His love.

So, as I think about my friends and the events they are having to deal with, I will think about what God has taught me and put it into practice in my life. Very thankful for my Lord and Savior who is the truest friend I have!

Hope everyone has a great day!

 

Writing Quotes

I thought I would take the opportunity today to share some quotes about writing I have come across recently and share what they mean to me. There is wisdom in the people who have come before me, and I want to make sure I take advantage of it.

First is a quote by Maya Angelou. I came upon this yesterday in a Facebook post by Jeff Goins, and all I could think of was how true it was because it gave me the idea for today’s post. Here’s the quote. “When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'” I was working on my latest piece, and nothing was happening. I couldn’t think of anything to write so I just started writing words. Words I knew would come out in editing. And then something in my brain clicked. It was something that would take my story in a direction I’d never thought of. It was good too. I started writing, and before I knew it, I had written several hundred words. Not bad for an afternoon’s work. So, that’s what the muse coming feels like, I thought. I’ll have to remember this the next time I get stuck.

The second quote was just as illuminating as the first. From George Washington Carver, “When you do common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” This quote helped me to know that I need to become comfortable writing in my own voice. Yes, lessons are helpful. Yes, I can gain wisdom from those who have come before me. But, I will be the most successful at this writing craft when I let my voice infuse my words which will turn into stories only I can write.

I especially liked the third quote from nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. I had never thought of dancing as anything but what you do with your feet, but I liked how he related it to writing. Here’s the quote. “Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?” That’s how our words come alive, I would think. Come alive in the reader’s mind; come alive in those who would like to see the change reflected in our words; come alive for humanity. Dancing with my words so that they reflect who I am–this is something I aspire to as a writer.

Finally, there is this quote from Gustave Flaubert. “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” I have found this to be true for me. Writing is the third component to sealing a belief in my heart. I can see something in writing. I can hear someone read something. But, before it goes into my personal belief system, I have to write it down. I have to write my own beliefs in words I can understand before I can say I believe them. It is as important to me as someone else’s creativity is to them. Writing is how I express my heart and soul to the world.

So, there it is. Four writing quotes and how they apply to my life. May we all be willing to glean wisdom from others as we discover our own writing voice!

Hope everyone has a great day!

Dialogue Tags

The prompts and quotes I’ve been reading from my writing book recently have been interesting. They get my mind focused on the writing I want to do on a particular day. The book itself is entitled The Writer’s Daily Companion. Amy Peters is the author, and I recommend it highly to any writer who wants to start their day off with encouragement.

Now, let’s get to the quote itself. From Anne McCaffrey, “James Blish told me I had the worst case of ‘said bookism’ (that is, using every word except said to indicate dialogue). He told me to limit the verbs to said, replied, asked, and answered and only when absolutely necessary.”

“Said bookism.” I had never heard it indicated in quite that way before. But, it is something I struggle with, and probably something all of us have struggled with at one point or another. In fact, it was slightly gratifying for me to read that such a well-known author had the same struggle. We want to spell out everything our characters are saying and doing and not let our readers come to any conclusions on their own. I’ve had to learn that letting readers figure out things for themselves is what can make the difference between a good story and a great story or a good writing piece and a great writing piece. I took some time to look through some of my older stories, and if I ever decide I want to do something with them, going through and replacing or eliminating dialogue tags will be one of the first editing tasks I need to do.

I also liked this quote from the book itself. “Keeping dialogue cues to a minimum lets the true essence of your story shine.” (The Writer’s Daily Companion, Amy Peters) When I’m writing a story, I have certain things I want to communicate through my characters, and I want to make sure I’m communicating clearly so anything that helps me with this is a win in my book. As I continue to write, I plan to become more familiar with common mistakes so I will know what to look for as I start to edit some of my longer works.

Hope everyone has a great day!

Research

Over the past week or so, I’ve been doing things to kick-start the writing I want to do going forward. I’ve written, of course. I’ve written a post for my other blog, and I’ve started working on a new short story. I’ve also been doing a lot of reading. It’s an interesting feeling not having a blog post to put up every day like I had when I was working on my 100 Days to Brave series for my other blog. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this week for this blog, but then it came to me. Not all writing is practicing in public. We all have work we would like to eventually have published, and we also need to do research so the work will be the best it can possibly be when it is ready for publication. So, there’s my topic. Research. What goes into preparing to write a book or a story, and my experiences in coming to realize it is necessary for the writing craft.

As I have prepared for this time of being able to write full-time, I have come across many philosophies and methods for getting words down on the page. I know some writers can’t write without having an outline prepared while others are known as “pantsers” or being able to write by the seat of their pants. (without a lot of preparation). There are also people who like to write as quickly as possible and those who can only write a few hundred words once a week. There are those who can write and edit as they go (precious few of us, I would think), and there are those who need to make sure another set of eyes (more than one, most likely) sees their work before they try to submit it somewhere for possible publication. I’m sure we all have many other differences as writers.

During this time of preparation, I have come across one organization I would like to give a shout-out to. NaNoWrimo, or National Novel Writing Month. It happens in November, and the goal is to get a 50,000 word novel finished before the end of the month. I’ve participated a few times, and the files for those books are sitting on my computer. I had fun each time I did it, and my participation proved to me that I did have the capacity to put words on the page and to finish a longer work. I know people who have revised and had their books published from participating in this event, but I don’t think that’s going to happen from what I’ve done so far because one of my entries is a fan-fiction work and because I am still learning about revising, editing, and research.

That brings us to today’s topic. Research. From all of the reading I’ve done, I know there are some authors who put out work very quickly, and there are some who take their time. I’ve always known that research needed to be done, but I wasn’t sure how to do it for a piece of writing I was working on and I thought it was more important to put words of my own on the page. Because I’m a writer, of course. How would people know I’m a writer if I didn’t put words of my own on the page?

I’ve come to realize differently now. I need to do research. Read books in the genre I want to write in and other books to keep my mind sharp. Read books on writing craft which will help with developing my own voice. Participate in events which will sharpen my mind and develop my creativity. And of course, write. Write for my blogs, write my stories, and begin writing my book. These are all parts of the workday for a writer, and they will be things I incorporate into my schedule as I begin writing full-time.

Have a wonderful day!

My Travel Story

When I was younger, I wasn’t convinced of the benefits of travel at all. By the time I got used to being in a certain place, my family would have to move again, and I would be forced to give up the friendships I had formed. That didn’t count all of the times we went to see relatives during the holidays. While elements of the trips were fun, for the most part, I remember being stressed and unhappy and wanting to get back home as soon as possible.

By the time I was fifteen, we had lived in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Florida, and South Carolina. I remember being vividly unhappy about being told we were going to move to Ohio after my freshman year of high school. We had lived in South Carolina for five years, and I didn’t want to go. But, I was fifteen so I went. The following year brought another move from Ohio to California. I stayed there for my final two years of high school. I did see a lot of interesting things along the way which I would be grateful for much later, but I didn’t find any roots. Why should I? I knew I wouldn’t want to stay in California. I wanted to go back to South Carolina to go to college which I did.

The college years passed quickly, and I soon began my working career. I enjoyed going to other places to visit people, but I was just as happy being at home and sometimes even more happy. I met my now-husband a few years later, and our children were born a few years after that. We had almost been married nine years when it became clear we would have to leave the city where everything started. Out of necessity, my husband had found work in another city. It was so hard, but I had been prepared for a transient lifestyle through my experiences as a child.

We moved to another city in South Carolina which we left two years later for the big move of our marriage. My husband had been promoted and was being given the opportunity to move to Michigan. We talked a lot about that one. It would be his first time living outside of the southern United States. The winter weather was not something we looked forward to, but we wanted to let our sons have the opportunity to see a different part of the country. It worked out wonderfully. We got to see things we had never seen before, and we had travel opportunities we would never have had otherwise. We also began homeschooling while we lived there.

I was starting to see the benefits of a traveling lifestyle, but was also feeling a yearning in my heart for something more permanent. Four years later, we left Michigan because my mother-in-law had become ill. We went back to South Carolina to help her and ended up losing her two months later. It was one of the hardest times of our lives. Luckily, we had moved back to our home state where we still had friends. We were able to move back to our old city two months after my mother-in-law died. Our sons were old enough at this point that we were hoping we would be staying put in one place.

It wasn’t to be though. My husband’s health issues made their presence known again which affected his employment. We had been back in our home city for only two years, and I hated having to leave again. Though I had regained contact with some of my college friends through Facebook, it was not the same as having lifelong friends who you knew you could count on. In fact, I can count the number of those I have on one hand.

We ended up in Alabama, and this September will be seven years since we’ve moved here. I was able to give my children the gift I never had. They both spent their high school years in one place. They’ve made good friends and have the stability that I always longed for. My older son is in college now and doing well. We travel to see him frequently. The younger one will graduate from high school in May and move on to the next phase of his life. I hope the combination of traveling and stability will give them both a good start in the adult world and even though they don’t have roots in the traditional sense, I hope they will know we we love them very much and always had their best interests in mind as they grew up in our family.

Hope everyone has a great day!

 

Different Kinds of Language

Over the past few years, I have tried to vary my reading so I could get maximum exposure to all the different kinds of  writing genres and styles that were out there. I’ve read such things as military science fiction, romance, mysteries, fantasy, young adult fiction, middle grade fiction, books about the craft of writing, and Christian books. These all have given me a wide exposure and a boost to my creativity which has helped my own writing.

I had never thought though of the different kinds of language used in writing before this past weekend. Now, I’m not talking about different languages. I’m talking about the ways people talk in the same language in different books. Let me explain. During the past several weeks I have been having, I guess what you would call angst, about my future when my younger son graduates from high school in May. What kind of opportunities would I have to write or to do whatever as a woman in her early 50’s. It’s big stuff–this thing called having an empty nest. I’ve poured myself into my kids for over twenty years and especially for the last twelve as I have homeschooled them. So, I have a lot to think about and consider.

What does that have to do with different kinds of language? I saw a quote by Virginia Woolf last week which resonated with me. This led to the books she had written. Here’s the quote. “I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me.” As far as I’m concerned, there is so much truth in that statement. Anyway, I went to her list of books and found a description of one of them. A Room of One’s Own. An essay based upon two papers read in October of 1928. Wow! This was something I needed to read. Something that might answer my questions.

I found it at the library on Sunday and began reading it. I’m not done yet. but one of the first things I noticed was how different the language was. This was written by a woman in the 1920’s so, of course, you would expect it to be different. But, I didn’t know how different it would be. I have been alternating between reading this book and a military science fiction book, and the differences are stark. In the first, Woolf discusses how women have not had opportunities to do things that are amazing because they have been weighted down by the desires of men–between children and cooking and mending and everything else that goes on in a household. Men have been the ones to write about women, to act in plays about women, and to discuss the affairs of the day without considering the opinion of women. While in the military science fiction book, which a woman wrote, the main female characters have had every opportunity–to gain medical knowledge, weapons knowledge, and knowledge about all of the sciences. A cornucopia of opportunity. In this book, women are respected for their knowledge; they are respected for what they can do; and they are valued members of the group they are associated with.

Two different comparisons–one fiction and one not, but both representative of the times in which they were written. It was interesting to me how well both books have been able to state their premise with the language used. The book by Woolf has more formal language–language used in the late 1920’s as well as in her country of origin–while the other book’s vernacular is more present-day. Despite the different kinds of language used, it was nice to see that the people of each era dreamed about and wanted the same things–for men and women to be seen as equal human beings. Though a lot has changed between 1928 and 2018, we still have a long way to go. May we as writers lead the way using words to paint pictures of how we would like the world to be!