Cross-posted from my Thriving in Grace blog:
I looked at the date when I was on Facebook earlier. Not only is today the birthday of a very good friend, it is also the week before Halloween. This started me thinking about the holidays and what they have usually meant for me. I almost sighed audibly. Although my kids aren’t small anymore, I seem to do the same amount of running around in search of the perfect holiday. It is tiring, and there have been years when I’ve been exhausted at the end of December wondering where the time had gone. So naturally, I decided to turn this into a blog post. 🙂 These are the first sentences I wrote in my journal earlier. “Am I really looking forward to this year’s holiday season. I’m not sure at this point. For the last couple of years, I’ve felt like I’ve been slogging through the holidays. Not enough money, not enough time, running around to make sure everything gets done. I don’t want to be like that this year.”
Since I had some time to think about it, these are the thoughts I came up with. During the holidays, I want to be more intentional about my gratitude, about my serving, and about my reflection. It’s not just running around from place to place. It’s treating the whole time as an experience, one I might never have again. And if it’s something I might never have again, shouldn’t I live more in the moment? More in the gratitude. More in the serving. More in the reflection. More in the saying. More in the…playing. Yes, I said it–playing. I’ve heard it said many times that experiencing the holidays through the eyes of a child is the best way to get adults to slow down. I don’t have small children, but I am acquainted with several. In fact, I share a birthday with one of them which is also during this season. I’m looking forward to making memories with them during the next couple of months.
Another way I’m going to be more intentional about the holidays is through my writing. For those of you who don’t know, November is a month where many writers begin and hope to finish at least 50,000 words of a novel. It’s called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short. It’s been several years since I’ve participated, but this year, this year I need to write the words down, to get this idea out of my head and onto the screen. Writing is how I figure out my world, and the times when I sit down and write are the times I experience the most clarity about the world around me. So, writing during the first part of this holiday will be my second way of being intentional. Now, would I like to get to 50,000 words and finish? Sure, I would. But this year, I want the journey to be about the words and about the story. In other words, to live in the experience while it is happening.
Finally, and most importantly, I will focus on the words of my Lord and Savior as I slow down and really think about what this time of year means to me. It’s not the gifts. It’s not the parties. It’s not even the Christmas tree. I’ve had holiday seasons where there has been plenty of money, and seasons where money has been scarce. The seasons that have been the best though are the seasons I have focused on God–having gratitude for what He has given me and serving where He calls me to serve. Psalm 100 brings all this to mind and more. I leave you with this psalm as you seek your own ways to be more intentional during this holiday season.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
Have a great day!
Words are a vital part of what we, as writers, do, so I thought I’d write about all the things they could do today. They are the smallest part of our craft. Words create sentences which create paragraphs which create pages which create chapters which create books. But they can also make us feel things. They can make us feel happy, sad, angry, disappointed, strange, bored, interested, encouraged, discouraged; the list of emotions goes on and on. They help us sharpen our imaginations by forming pictures inside our minds. If I read a book where the author has written a good description of his setting, I can imagine myself there and feel like I’ve traveled to a place I might not ever get to go in my lifetime. They are also a method of escape for me when I read as I can escape from whatever real life is throwing at me to enjoy the imaginary world of a book. In other words, words are the basic building blocks of everything we do in a society.
Written words are not the only words that are important though. Spoken words might be more important than written words because a lot of our communicating is done face to face. They can bring joy in one instance and then turn right around and bring sadness. From when we can first understand the spoken word, they help us form our concept of self. If the first words we hear are words that affirm us, we start on the path to becoming a productive person in society. But, if we hear words that demean us, that tell us we’re not any good, it doesn’t take much time for those words to take root in our inner being and become what we believe about ourselves.
So, words have power, power that I don’t think we realize sometimes. We realize when we are physically hurt whether we are ill with some kind of sickness or whether we’ve had some kind of accident like a broken arm or leg. Those hurts are visible and can be seen by whoever we come in contact with. But, words have the power to hurt us inside where the hurt is not as visible to the rest of us. We’ve all been hurt by words whether unintentionally or by bullying, and we’ve all been careless with our words and caused hurt. Words can form scars, but words can also heal. When I think of how I want to be with the words I speak or the words I write, I think of a verse of Scripture from my Christian faith.
Psalm 19:14 states, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Hope everyone has a great day!
This is my first attempt at completing one of Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction writing challenges although this week does not involve fiction strangely enough. It’s been a topic I’ve been thinking about recently so when I saw the prompt, I thought I would take a stab at it. First, the prompt.
WHY I WRITE.
That’s it. I wanna know why you write. What it is that makes you want to tell stories and write them down. What drives you? Something biographical? Something internal? Dig deep. Be thoughtful. Write it out like the bad-ass that you know you are.
My writing journey began as a teenager, and it began with writing fanfiction before I even knew the term existed. I would fill notebooks with further adventures of my favorite television characters. These were characters I had been inspired by in one way or another. Usually, they would be people who would try to do the right thing, and I would write about the journey they would take to get there. I used their journey to help me with my own journey as I grew into a young woman.
Along with writing fanfiction, I also kept a journal. I would use this place to write down many of my deepest secrets, things I didn’t want anyone else to know about. I asked the questions that no one else could answer and told the stories no one else could tell. It was my way of making sense of my world.
This theme would continue in subsequent years. I received my bachelors in psychology and my master of arts in teaching, but I kept going back to writing, my way of making sense of the world. I could never figure out how to make money from just my writing though so I began teaching and gradually stopped writing because I was busy being an adult or adulting (as one of my friends likes to say). I got married, gave birth to my boys, and eventually quit teaching to stay at home with them.
In subsequent years, we moved several times, and my boys grew. And, as those of you who are parents know, as they grew older, they were able to do more for themselves, and I was able to do more that didn’t involve directly caring for them. I piddled with writing a little bit, but it was not anything serious, and it was like I had forgotten everything that used to mean so much to me.
All of that changed in the year 2009, six and a half years ago. We began the year having discussions on whether to move back to our home state to help care for my mother-in-law who had not been doing well. We decided to do so in February, and looking back it was almost as if God had given us the promptings to move. Because, two months later, she passed away suddenly. I was heartbroken. We were all heartbroken. In the midst of settling her affairs, I pulled out a notebook and started writing. That writing grew into a crescendo as the calendar made its way through the summer and into the fall. It wasn’t long before the rest of my family became used to seeing me take a notebook wherever we went.
The following year I heard of something called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It happens every November, and many words are written all over the world. The goal is to write a 50000 word novel during the thirty days of that month. I decided to participate. It turned out that my husband needed surgery so, on the very first day of that month, I was feverishly writing while sitting in the hospital waiting room. I didn’t know it at the time, but my family was about to go through more change. I finished my first 50000 word novel that month while my husband was recovering. He ended up losing his job through that set of circumstances and started looking for another one. 2010 flowed into 2011, and I continued to write as I coped with all the change. He couldn’t find work where we were so we ended up moving to Birmingham, Alabama. Moving here was fortuitous as there were so many more resources available for writers than there were in my former home town.
But, of course, change and life continued to happen. I miscarried our third child in late 2011 and went through some dark and black times during the following year. I continued to write, but it was almost as if I was doing it through a fog. I finally realized at the beginning of 2013 that I was suffering from depression. We had begun visiting the first church we had gone to in eight years, and I had come back to the Christian faith I had as a teenager and young adult. The pastor of that church offered to counsel me, and we began talking. It didn’t take long for him to get clued in as to how I coped with the world, and he suggested I journal what I was feeling. I did so, and the fog started lifting. I had a place where I could be completely honest with myself, and it was a place I didn’t have to share with anyone else.
Since that time I have filled many journals and written blog posts and stories. None of my stories have been published yet, but I know that is only a matter of time. I am very grateful to all of the people who have encouraged me along the way, but especially to my husband and to my pastor who every so often asks me if I have written it down when I start to tell him something.
Have a great day!
This might not seem to be a good topic for a writing blog, but bear with me for a minute. All of us have fears. Some of them are more extreme than others and more noticeable, and some of them are private and in our own hearts. We make fun of some fears like when people play pranks on other people by throwing a fake snake or placing a fake spider in the way of people who are afraid of the real thing. It’s not a nice thing to do, and I try to respect others who have those kind of fears because I want to be respected myself when I give voice to any of my fears.
One might ask why it is so hard to give voice to a fear. I would think one of the reasons would be the one I just mentioned. We do not want others to make fun of our fear. It’s very hard to have a fear and not be taken seriously. Another reason might be because we all have a hard time letting down our shields. We have a persona we show to the world, and if we admit to a weakness like having a particular fear, holes are made in that persona, and the real person is exposed. Most people don’t want their real selves exposed, and if they expose them at all, it’s to a very select group of people. And finally, there is a possibility that if we give voice to our fears, they might come true. For some people, that would be the scariest thing of all.
But, if we can voice or write down our fears, it might take us one step towards lessening them or even eliminating them. For me, as a writer and as a woman of faith, this can happen in one of three ways. First, I can use the particular fear as a fear for a character in a story I am writing. By writing about that fear, I can take the character through mastering it and not letting it impact their life. This can helpful as a cheap form of therapy. Second, I can write about the fears as myself and as I’m experiencing them. This can be a way of giving voice to the deepest parts of me and can help with what I’m most afraid of. Third, and somewhat related to the second, I can pray, pray with my voice and write down my prayers in my journal. God wants to hear about all the details in our lives including the things we don’t want to admit even to ourselves. 1 John 4:18-19 says, “There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.” I can’t add anything else to that so I won’t.
Have a great day everyone!
I’ve seen many quotes about writing, but two have always stood out to me. “Please do not annoy the writer. She may put you in a book and kill you.” or “Careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” I’m sure those of you who are writers and have seen these quotes get a chuckle out of them. There is a point though in writing down your life experiences or keeping a journal. A few points actually.
First, the experiences themselves can be fodder for writing fiction you would like to write. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had something happen to me in real life, and my first thought was, “I should take notes so I can write this in a future story.” This is what having a journal does for me. I write about particular situations in my life, and they are there for me to remember when I need writing inspiration.
Second, having a journal helps me to process the world around me. I started being consistent with keeping a journal just over two years ago when someone I consider a mentor encouraged me to do so. Now, when I tell him about various things that happen in my life, the first question he always asks me is, “Have you written it down?” I think I am up to seven finished journals now, and I know I look at life in a different and more healthy way because I’ve kept journals.
Finally, keeping a journal has made me a better writer. Being able to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper has helped me to understand the process of writing and how to make things clear and understandable. At times, my journal entries have been story starters, and whenever, I haven’t been able to think of anything else to write, my journal has been my mainstay. I’m grateful I’ve taken the time to keep a journal, and I would encourage anyone who writes to do the same.
Have a great day!
The last few years have been a journey for me as far as my writing is concerned. I’ve started and maintained two blogs though I’m sure I could have been more consistent with my writing schedule. I’ve written and published posts about the things I’m passionate about–my faith, my family, the novels and stories I like. There are more options than there used to be for making words readable by people you don’t know. But, what I haven’t done is to put my writing in a place where it might be rejected. Yes, I know I could get negative comments on my blogs, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about submitting something to a publisher and having said publisher tell me that my piece is not what they’re looking for. Essentially, a rejection. I’m not sure why I haven’t done this. Wait a minute, yes I am. Who among us likes to be rejected? Don’t we want to think that anything we have to say would be valuable enough to say to an audience? If we are telling the truth, at least to ourselves, we don’t like to be rejected, and we don’t want to take the chance we will be rejected.
I’ve realized something though, and it has to do with the post I published last week about my word for 2015. For those of you who missed that post, my word for 2015 is refined. Last week, I wrote about what this word has to do with my Christian faith, but I believe it can apply to writing in general. I’m sure those of you who have written longer than I have, know this little truth, but putting it in relation to my faith has helped make it clearer to me. Submitting my writing and having it be rejected will refine me as a person. It will make me a better writer and, I believe, a better person. If writing is really my passion, I will keep going and keep submitting no matter how many rejections I might get. So, for 2015, I am going to start submitting pieces. I am going to go through the fire of rejection and come out the other side, living my passion along the way. I invite you to do the same.