Archive for April, 2016

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Simmer Starters – April 29, 2016

April 29, 2016

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Parchments (Mike Wittmer) – WOW. Did you ever wonder how much it cost Paul to send one of his epistles?  I was pretty astounded…

Three Dollars (Adam4D) – As usual, insightful and convicting webcomic fare from Adam4D. I really enjoy his comics but I’m not sure I’ve linked to them before on my Simmers!

Make Your Protagonist Special (Janeen Ippolito) – “Make your protagonist special. Make them different. Give them that weird hair color or that weird superpower or that weird, inexplicable fascination with toaster ovens. When you stick them in those impossible situations, equip them with some kind of special-ness to be able to handle that situation. Not at first, of course. Growth comes over the course of the plot. But don’t leave a protagonist with nothing to work with at the start.”

Aphantasia: how it feels to be blind in your mind (Blake Ross) – An fascinating article (caution: language) by a man who discovered that his brain didn’t work quite like other people’s brains do.

Die to Your Flesh and Live (Jon Bloom) – One of those articles I didn’t “enjoy”…but really needed to read. 😉  “When it comes to resisting the powerful demands of our weak flesh, the Bible describes it as a kind of dying. That’s because our deceived, corrupt flesh believes our life will be happier if we gratify it. Denying it can feel like dying to something life-giving.”

 

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I’m Not Smart Enough to Tell This Story

April 28, 2016

maze

I came across a quote the other day by author Shannon Hale.  She begins:

I am (as usual) attempting to write a book that’s too hard for me. I’m telling a story I’m not smart enough to tell. The risk of failure is huge.

I was stunned at how well that described where I am in my book’s revisions.

It feels like too much.  It’s overwhelming.  When I brainstorm for it, I have to battle off feelings of hopelessness.

This will never be good.  I’m not smart enough to pull this off.  I can’t do this amount of work.  I’ll never organize all these plot threads.  It will never be done.

So the other half of Shannon Hale’s quote surprised and delighted me:

But I prefer it this way. I’m forced to learn, forced to smarten myself up, forced to wrestle. And if it works, then I’ll have written something that is better than I am.

How true that is!  We can rise to meet a challenge, and do things we never imagined we could.

But in my case I prefer to think of it more as trust.

Perseverence even when you can’t see the big picture

God keeps faithfully providing me with the inspiration I need…but it comes in small bits, one more piece to the puzzle at a time.

It’s a little bit like being in a maze, with walls on either side higher than my head, and only directions enough for the next few turns – where I might or might not find another set of directions waiting for me.

Usually my stress comes when I realize that the big picture isn’t clear, that all I can see are a few details…and those details make sense and fit together beautifully…

But what about the rest I don’t know??

Then I start to panic.

I have to sit back and remind myself that God has been providing thus far, and He will continue to provide, according to His will.  I’m incapable of doing great things without His help to begin with, so I simply need to trust that He knows what He’s doing, and pray for continued guidance, relying on Him with every step.

It’s not unlike life in general.  Sometimes God only provides us a little wisdom at a time.  Sometimes He only provides a little time, or a little money, or a little of any resources we need.  Trying to look at the big picture is often scary.  But that’s not our business – that’s God’s.

If we always knew where we were going, what occasion would we have to trust?

We have to hold to His hand and take our shaky steps in the direction He leads, even if we don’t know where He is going to take us, and only have breadcrumbs to follow.

One step at a time.

One word at a time.

One brainstorming epiphany at a time. 😀

He knows what I need.  So He must know that what I have right now is perfect for my true needs – and when I need more, He will provide for that too.

I’m not smart enough to tell this story, on my own.  But with His help, I can accomplish it.  And if I am looking fully to Him and relying on His help rather than my own wisdom and efforts, perhaps He can indeed use me to write a story that is better than I am.

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Is there anything in your life that feels “too hard” right now?  Do you feel like you’re in a maze with incomplete directions?  How has God been showing you His trustworthiness in your life lately?

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Simmer Starters – April 22, 2016

April 22, 2016

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I Love Teenagers (The Eventure Project) – YES!  Love this.  I grow oh-so-tired of the derogatory way people speak about teens, making fun of their immaturity when they’re just at the very beginning of their journey, or scorning their attempts to be adults when this is their time to grow into adulthood.  A good read!

A Response to ‘An Open Letter to Rey’ (Mirriam Neal) – I enjoyed this one for several reasons, but I especially loved the explanation of the term “helpmeet” and what it breaks down to in Hebrew: “Ezer Kenegdo – a military ally who goes before you. A helpmeet is a fellow warrior, designed specifically to ride into battle alongside someone else.”

Why I Write Scary Stories for Children (N.D. Wilson) – Good food for thought here!   As usual, I appreciate N.D. Wilson’s perspective.  “I’m not interested in stories that sear terrifying images or monsters or villains into young minds—enough of those exist in the real world, and plenty of others will grow in children’s imaginations without any help. I am interested in telling stories that help prepare living characters for tearing those monsters down.”

GMC – A Stupidly Simple System for Great Character Creation (Rachel Bach/Aaron) – Tips for creating a character based on three things: their goal, underlying motivation, and the conflict that prevents them from getting their goal.

Spiritual Drafting and the Danger of Christian Complacency (Tim Challies) – A thought-provoking analogy.

Our Needs Point Us to God (Christine Hoover) – “I have lost the childlike instinct to simply ask my Father for my needs to be met by him. When my sons have a need, they immediately come to me. When I have a need, I veer toward shame, frustration, and guilt. My boys aren’t above otter-like begging, but I have somehow grown accustomed to muting my needs through attempted self-sufficiency…”

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Simmer Starters – April 15, 2016

April 15, 2016

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Finally, a Simmer Starters post!!  Here are my favorites from the past few weeks…  It’s interesting to see which ones stick out at me most, stick in my mind longest, when I have to carve away at several weeks’ worth of links and choose the best.

Sehnsucht (Annie Hawthorne) – This is just beautifully written and expresses this emotion of longing so well!  “I have many things on my mind right now—all gossamer, fluttering images that dash away when I reach out to grasp them. A friend told me this deep ache, this feeling of something beautiful, something rich and powerful that you can’t see even though it seems just there on the horizon—she said it is Sehnsucht.”

When You’re Battling the Soul Bullies (Melissa Camara Wilkins) – There is some good, powerful stuff here, with interesting applications for the Christian.  “When they start in with their, Who do you think you are? And their, How dare you?  … The answer is, Who am I not to show up, not to breathe deeply, not to create the things that are mine to create? Who will live my life if I don’t?

More Than Dragons (Janeen Ippolito / Uncommon Universes Press) – “No one asks a writer of historical fiction ‘can’t you just put this in a contemporary setting?’ Because the history is part of the story. It envelopes the reader’s mind into a time and a place that is rich and beautiful and necessary to the plot. Speculative world-building should be the same.”

That Smiling Missionary Family (El Salvador Missionary Fellowship) – A good reminder of ways to pray for our missionaries!  “You see that happy missionary family smiling out of the postcard on your fridge? Their marriage is probably hanging by a thread.”

Followed by the God of Grace (Garrett Kell) – This is a really neat story, with good encouragements for evangelism at the end.

Enjoy a Good Laugh, Like God (Jon Bloom) – Admittedly I’m not a huge fan of April Fool’s Day pranks (I draw the line at lies, anyway…not a fan of lying to get laughs).  But I loved this post about how God is the God of humor!

 

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Pressing On

April 14, 2016
Awesome fan art for my trilogy made by K.M. Carroll.

Awesome fan art for my trilogy made by K.M. Carroll!

Part of the reason I haven’t blogged in several weeks is because I’ve been busy writing hard – or planning hard.  My brain has been busy, and half the time lost in Kraesinia.

But this past week has changed a lot of things.

It would take a long time to explain it all, and I don’t want to bore anyone, 😛 but here’s where I’m at in a nutshell.

I’ve been working on draft 5.3 of The Trusted since July 2014(!!).  This month I was taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo, and at the start of April I had high hopes of finishing this draft by July, so I could pitch it to a publishing house at the Realm Makers conference.

But as of today I’m officially scrapping this draft.

The whole thing.  All of it.

The reasons are many, but probably not interesting to those who haven’t read it, so I won’t go into all that.

The point is, I realized that it was not up to snuff, in a variety of serious ways.

There have been moments where this decision has been discouraging – mainly because I thought I was almost done!  *wails*  And I scrapped the draft before this when I was midway through that one, too, so I feel like I could have avoided all this if I’d put more thought into the revision that’s now going bye-bye.  So that’s disappointing, but what can you do?  It was all a learning process, so it was all good.

Overall, though, I’m really just excited!  Because God is answering prayer!

So many elements of this book need to be completely revolutionized; until now I never had the courage.  Standing at this crossroads has been bewildering and overwhelming.  I’ve prayed hard for wisdom – and asked prayer of writing friends as well.  And God has answered those prayers abundantly, and continues to do so, stunning me every day by setting new ideas in my lap, things that revolutionize how I see my characters or sharply clarify my vision.  I’ve never had so many ground-breaking realizations about this story in such a short period of time.  God is clearly answering prayer.  He is good!!

Sometimes the amount of work ahead (yet again) is overwhelming – but giving up is the cowardly, selfish thing to do.  If I’m focused on how it won’t be perfect (nooo!), how people I respect may not like it (ack!), and so forth…all I’m really thinking about is myself and my pride, my desire for admiration and acceptance.

But when I focus on the future readers, and ask God what I should do for Him and for them, the answer in the back of my mind is clear: “Press on.”  To do otherwise would be like the wicked servant burying his talent.  This story wasn’t given to me in order to bury it under a layer of earth for fear of failure.

Interestingly, I didn’t think of that answer, “Press on,” as a direct one from God at the time, but then I remembered this verse.

But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13b-14 (emphasis mine)

Sure, I’m taking it way out of context, 😀 but that’s a perfect command for me right now.

As time goes on, my sense of calling over this book only increases.  It’s important.  Deep down I know it is important for me to tell this story.  It’s a story only I can tell, and I am certain it has a purpose.

It’s such a massive part of my heart, too (and has been for 10 years and counting).  I don’t know how I will move on to anything else until it’s done and behind me, so it’s “blocking” the rest of my writing career.  Until this massive beast is tamed, I cannot even think of other beasties to play with.  Moving on eventually will be hard too!  But rather than dawdling as if this project will be around forever, I am making up my mind to finish finally.

My eyes are on the prize.  I am running the next lap of my race with joy, knowing my strength and inspiration comes only from the Lord of all creativity, and trusting Him with my story…which ultimately does not belong to me, but Him.

Sometimes asking for prayer for my writing feels silly.  Since my storyworld is all in my head, I guess I worry that prayer requests for it feel “imaginary”!

But no detail is too small for God; he cares about the worlds in my head as well as the world we walk in, because stories have power, and without Him we have no inspiration or creativity.  So if you think of it, I ask that you please pray for me in this next revision!  Pray that the Lord would continue to guide me and give me wisdom to understand how to craft this book into what it is made to be, a thing that will glorify Him and bless those who read it.

And if you’re struggling with a creative project, leave a comment explaining how you might need prayer!  I would be honored to lift you before the throne of grace too. 🙂