Tag Archives: writing words

Seasons

TrueTone colors give way

to technicolor and neon

that fades past time bleached

into sepia tones

and finally black and white
with occasional wan water color tint

A lilac sunset the only reminder

of the pencil green shading to come


Reflections on NaNoWriMo

This November I participated in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. It is a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel between the 1st and the 30th of November. I have been wanting to do this for some time, and this year we weren’t moving or renovation or any of the big things that had kept me from it in the past. On October 30 I made myself a profile, named my novel and committed myself to write about a vague idea that had been floating in my mind for a few months. I had no idea how it was going to play out, or that it would end in my writing almost 8000 words on the last day of the challenge.I just said, “Sure. Let’s give it a go. How hard can it be?”

On this side of things, I am left with three general observations.

  1. I need to challenge myself more often. This was a difficult task, but I am telling my children every day that the hard things are the way we learn and the way we glorify the Lord. Homeschooling the children has been one of those hard things in which I am pushing myself, but just as an athlete is always pushing to better their time or go further, I need to do that in the things that I am comfortable about doing well.
  2. I can choose not to feel guilty about doing something I enjoy. Part way through the challenge, my Mackerdoodle (who is 8) asked why it felt like I was spending a lot more time sitting at my laptop. I thought about how that made me feel, and how it was making her feel and we talked about it. I told her that I was still being faithful to the family. I was still doing laundry and vacuuming and cooking meals. I was still tucking the kids into bed most nights and homeschooling every morning. I continued to read aloud and to bake bread and make desserts. I had no reason to feel guilty for also choosing to write 50,000 words in one month, so I chose not to feel guilty for it.
  3. I really love writing. I love the sensation of stringing words together  to make sentences that carry specific meaning. I loved developing the characters and building the events and researching a specific time and place. I really love to write, and I had forgotten how much.

So I am editing the novel I wrote, and I am committing to finish Kissing Frogs (for the two of you who care) and I will be blogging more. If the only thing NaNoWriMo did was remind me how much I love to write, it was well worth a month of my time.


In Other News

Apparently another reason I don’t blog is when I am doing a lot of writing somewhere else. The lion’s share of my job as Assistant Nursery Coordinator is the children’s program for our women’s morning bible study. I believed it was one of the best programs at out church before I got this job, so to be a part of it is an extreme honor and privilege. The biggest part of my job when bible study isn’t in session is writing a children’s curriculum to companion the women’s study. The goal is that the women and their children are learning the same bible truths (age appropriately, of course). It is, what my good friend Susan calls “setting people up to win.”

So I haven’t been blogging here much because I’ve been working my way through The Gospel of Mark and Tim Keller’s book King’s Cross and then trying very hard to put it into children’s language without “dumbing it down.”

Here are a few thoughts I have had in my wanderings that won’t be making it into a children’s curriculum, so I thought I would share them here:

  • Redemptive history, while a chronological Covanental saga, has a definite non-linear quality to it. When Jesus arrived at the Jordan river, there were people there genuinely repenting of their sin. Something they could only do because of the atoning sacrifice of the Christ they not only didn’t recognize, but hadn’t happened yet.
  • Mark is a very, um, streamlined writer. It’s actually good for me to read, “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.” And that’s it. Two verses covers it. Why am I trying to stretch that into 3/4 of a page?

So there you have it. And now I’m diving back in, but you are forewarned. Posts here may have a gospel of Mark theme for the next few weeks.


And What Shall I Call Myself?

I have read four different articles this week on different subjects and from variant sources that have included the sentence, “If you want to be a writer, call yourself a writer.” The fourth time I read it, in this article from Andrew Peterson, I felt like yelling, “Enough already! Quit telling me what I should call myself!” I took a few days to mull over why I was so frustrated with this advice. I understand the principle of it. I even agree that thinking of yourself as a writer makes you take your writing more seriously, makes you schedule time to write, makes you pursue serious writing opportunities. So why was I so upset at the advice? Why was I kicking against the goads of advice that could help me make my way toward my stated goal?

I went through a lot of self examination on this one, because at first I really believed it was self sabotage; but the answer came to me in a bolt of understanding when I asked myself the question, “So if I don’t call myself a writer, what am I?” I was not asking this in the sense of identity. I am in Christ. That is my identity. I was also not asking this in terms of life calling, because my ultimate life calling is to be a helpmeet to my husband. Those two things are long term; the first is eternal and the second is until death does us part. In seeking to answer, “What am I?” I was really asking, “What am I now?” I have been a realtor for a season. I have been a teacher for a season. If I don’t want to call myself a writer in this season of my life, what am I?

A mother.

I don’t want to call myself a writer at the moment. I am realizing that this season of my whole energy and attention being consumed with the care and nurture of small children is a short one and I don’t want to let go of that title before I have to. Right now, everything else gets tucked into the empty minutes around being a mama, and as exhausting and sometimes frustrating as it can be, I am okay with that. In five years my children will be capable of going to school, or spending a night at a friend’s house, or even spending a week at camp without me. Yes, I will still be their mother, and I will still be charged with their nurture in the faith and their love and care and raising up and correcting in righteousness, but I’ll have some freedom to do the things that writers do, like take three hours each week just to write, or hole up in a cabin somewhere for a weekend, just to write. In five years, maybe I can call myself a mama and a writer. For now, I’m content to be a mother – who sometimes writes.


Lights, Bushels and Time Management

So my husband read the post about my empty journals and said something surprising.  He told me that writing things down in a journal and putting them in a box was hiding my light under a bushel.  He wants me to write more and finish some of these projects with the goal of finding a publisher.  Of course, it’s that last part that has the most hurtles (Anyone know a reader at a publishing house?  Didn’t think so.) and will require the most work for the least promise of return, but to have my husband affirm that he believed God had given me a talent for writing was encouraging.

So my goals in writing (2 AC articles a week, and 15 pages of other writing a week) and my daily housekeeping duties and the growing baby who needs to eat, and the toddler who needs to potty and wants me to read to her 35 hours a day are all competing for my time, and I am trying to balance all of that in a healthy and God honoring way.  So you may have seen this coming, but I’m going to cut back on my blogging.  My goal will be three posts per week, plus my Wednesday morning weigh in.

So I’ll still be here enough to keep you up to date on the cuteness of my children and the progress of my writing goals, and if you want to know about my AC posts you can follow me on (sigh) Twitter or catch the updates on my Facebook page when anything is published.

And if you know a publisher who might want to look past the “chatty kathy” style of this blog and read something I’ve actually worked at, send them my e-mail address.  🙂


Too Much To Say

Sometimes I don’t blog because I don’t have anything to say.

Sometimes I don’t blog because everything I want to say is too personal for a public blog.

Sometimes (like over Thanksgiving) I don’t blog because I don’t have ready access to the internet. 

But sometimes I don’t blog because I have SO MUCH to write that when I sit down the thoughts tumble around too quickly for my fingers to decipher.

After several days with family and a road trip to Canada and a road trip home and an active toddler I have so many things to write that I can’t get it all together.  Here is a quick story to entertain and amuse you while I organize my thoughts:

On the trip north I had our mackerdoodle oriented time occupiers organized with some of her favorite things near the bottom to pull out at moments of dire need.  She would play with her Fisher Price animals, and when she bored of them, I would hand her a book or a stuffed animal.  When she got really tired, I played a game of catch with a blue squishy pillow.  Eventually she would snuggle into the pillow and go to sleep.

So I was in the process of handing her something at some point in Ohio.  She had taken it from my hand, but as I withdrew the hand, she said “Mama, Mama.” and reached for me.  I put my hand back, and she grabbed it in her cute pudgy baby hand.  She then pulled it toward her open mouth.  Just as I was about to say “No ma’am, don’t bite.” she closed her mouth, let go of my hand, and chortled with delight.

She had played her first joke on me! 

Jonathan and I laughed along with her, because a child’s first prank is something to be encouraged.  Then, periodically over the next twenty minutes or so, we’d hear her chuckle again at her own cleverness. 

So that’s just a snapshot into the GOOD things that we experienced while driving too and from Canada for Thanksgiving.   Once I label the filing system in my head, I’ll regale you with more tales from the road, tales of the nieces and nephews, and the story of how the mackerdoodle learned to go down stairs by herself and only fell once. 


A Non-Fiction Realization.

Sometimes I watch biographical retrospectives of famous people – musicians, writers, actors, politicians, sports stars – and I’ve noticed that in almost every case, there is a moment during which a former teacher, a parent or sibling, or an old friend will say “They’ve been doing this their entire life.”  It includes photographs of little league football games, or appearances in school plays, or a tiny person gripping a microphone as big as their head and singing into it.  I watch those stories and ask the question “what have I done my entire life?”

While I was unpacking those boxes during fall break, I came across (and while I am prone to exaggeration, this isn’t one) forty-eight partially filled notebooks containing stuff I have written (to be honest, mostly partially written) since the ninth grade.  I reached the conclusion that what I have done longer, and more prolifically than anything else in my life, is write.

The most recent incarnation of that passion is, of course, this blog, but the notebooks just seem to multiply.  If I’m really honest with myself and others, I still consider myself an aspiring writer of fiction.  I still dream of publishing a novel, or having a screenplay produced.  The characters still live in my head, and when I crack open those notebooks, it’s like re-acquainting myself with old friends.  It’s like the stories are still in there, waiting to be told.

That being said, you can imagine what a temptation NaNoWriMo would be to me.  The challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days is like reaching base camp at Everest!  But the reality is this:  I’m at school a little more than twenty hours a week, grading and preparation adds roughly ten hours a week to that.  I have a toddler, I’m expecting another baby, and I’m barely keeping my head above water in my normal household management chores – you know, the part of my life that God has called me to make my first priority.

One day, I pray that I’ll be able to do it, but in November of 2008 I can’t take a month to write 50,000 words.  It would be the equivalent of reaching base camp at Everest while my family wandered through the foothills of the himalayas, shoeless and begging for food.