Saturday, July 10, 2010

Minding My P's & Q's... Lessons from the Writer's Delivery Room

If you missed it on Seekerville... Here it is again.  I hope that my lessons will help make your journey to writing delivery easier. 

You've been in gestation with this book so long, you feel like an elephant. You're wondering if you'll ever get published. Take heart, you're not alone. My little spiel, or long spiel is for you. What I've learned may make your wait easier.

Perseverance— Birth Cycles are ordained

After 30 years in the writer's waiting room, I'm an ace. HA!

It's been a proverbial perseverance coaster ride. (Say that three times fast). I wished I could say I was more up than not. But I'd be lying.

I started writing in elementary school. Won awards for poetry and songs. Published short stories, took writer's courses, finalled in the Noble Theme Contest (Genesis), had an agent ask for me and more.

I still wasn't published; at times it irked me that others were. And they hadn't been gestating as long. Was I a horrible writer? No. It just wasn’t my time. I hated the waiting room. To get by, I threw pity parties, with lots of free flowing whine. Not a pretty place.

I hate to admit it, but envy visited often. It still raises its ugly head sometimes. But I have learned that we all have our waiting areas. We weren't told life would be easy, we were told to persevere.

Prophecy— The Doctor said I was having a girl. God said otherwise.

Let's talk the future. Not omens or Crystal balls, but touching the future.

The legacy of words.

Do you realize the weight the smallest of words carry? Words can build and destroy. Words can paint the truth, just as easily as they can lie.

It used to hurt when people knocked Christian Fiction. It felt like they nixed the novel-- or baby-- I carried. I heard that to really use my writing for the Lord, I should write devotionals, self-help books, or maybe a biography about someone who'd done great things for the Lord.


We're they right? I wasn't getting published, maybe writing novels was stupid.

So I tried to write like everyone else thought I should. It turned out bea... u... ti NOT.

God gave me my words and imagination. When I didn't use it in the way he ordained, I felt listless. Why? Because I needed to write God's will. There are people I was created to touch. One or a million, it doesn't matter. If I'm not true to the writer God made me, I may not reach them. I may not leave a legacy.

What legacy will your words leave?

Promises— Pushing too hard gives you Hemorrhoids

What a lovely picture.

Consider this… while God promises to meet my needs and give me a most awesome future, he never promised I'd be published.

Say What?

It's the truth. He never said I'd be published. (Never said I wouldn't.) That was a tough to wrap my head around, I couldn't believe God would give me these stories and not let me publish them.

So I did the logical thing… I decided to prove him wrong. I checked out every avenue to publishing. Even self-published my own books, and God saw that they were good and blessed me immensely.

Yeah… and I never color my hair either.

Self-publishing, hmm. I learned volumes, spent volumes and shed a few tears. Does self-pubbing work for some people? A few. Not for me. I ended up in a funk. My brain was all over the place. Words failed me. I thought God was so upset with me, he took my gift of writing away.

Shallow thoughts, but they plagued me. Until I finally laid my writing, my pride, at God's feet and he filled my imagination and life with promise again. A promise to use my words—me –even if I never became published. I also learned I could use some preparation (notice I didn't say H). I had some work to do, some things to learn.

Do I ever pick up my pride and try to get God to see it my way, yeah. But I'm getting better.

Quality – Gentlemen we can rebuild him and make him just like...

We should strive for quality in our writing.

That's a given… but there's another aspect of quality we tend to forget, and that's the quality of the writer within.

I see writers buying into the myth that if they write like that person, they'd get published.

Not true. You can learn from another writer, but sadly when you try to write like someone else, you lose the qualities God formed in you. They're unique qualities, gifted only to you –your tone, your flow. To be used with your character, your dreams and your imagination.

Don't settle for the lie that you're not a worthy writer if you don't write like so and so. Don't sell your writer's soul; the price is far too great.

Quantum Physics— It's Alive… (Mawwwhaaahaaa, cue Frankenstein music)

1. Energy is not continuous, but comes in small but discrete units. 2. The elementary particles behave both like particles and like waves. 3. The movement of these particles is inherently random. 4. It is physically impossible to know both the position and the momentum of a particle at the same time. The more precisely one is known, the less precise the measurement of the other is. 5. The atomic world is nothing like the world we live in.

I should say "Psych" about now to see if you're still with me. 'Cause I'm sure you're wondering what Quantum Physics has to do with anything. Frankly I don't know. It had a Q and a P.

Let me say this, there are those who believe that we use your imagination and thoughts to accomplish our goals and make our dreams come. Some Scientists actually believe our thoughts are powerful enough to change reality. As we believe it.

I concur,  to a point... we can change our reality.

By changing reality, I'm not saying you'll think you're a millionaire and suddenly become one. I am saying, when you use the gifts God gave and seek his wisdom, when you're in constant forward motion, shooting for your goals, your future will probably be brighter. Not always more profitable, but more joyous, more hopeful.

Let me put it a different way. Scripture tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. To do this changes our reality in a sense. Staying in God's word accomplishes this, as does using the mind and gifts he's given.

Consider how it feels when the currents running through your brain are zipping into the dark recesses and firing on all cylinders. Your imagination is on edge. Waves of thought wash over you. You see each section of your story in vivid Technicolor. If you don't get a piece of paper to write on, your head's going explode.

Have you ever been there?

You find a scrap of paper and start to write. The atoms continue to split in the channels of your mind. Electric impulses fire, arcing to the frontal lobe, skittering to the occipital lobe, racing to the temporal lobe and words begin to flow through your brain like a river, forming sentences, paragraphs and chapters. It rejuvenates your mind. Encourages forward momentum.

Who knows what it is that sets a fire in a writer. The necessary current is as different as our stories, as our characters. Every nuance, every particle forms our imagination.

Quirks – My baby sleeps with his fist in his mouth and his rump in the air…

Your characters have quirks. The funnier the better, one might say. Writers can be pretty quirky people, too.

Some writers can't write if they're not sitting in their favorite chair. Others need certain music. Still others wear a certain shirt, use a specific computer or typewriter. Or wear specific socks. Some can only write if they have on their favorite pair of glasses.

Writers are peculiar. Aren't you glad I'm here to tell you that?

Quirks are intertwined in our stories. Some writers want their words to flow a certain way. Some use a distinct style of writing. Dry wit, flowery narrative, meter, rhyme, inflection and passive verbs (I didn't say that) are all part of how some authors build their stories.

I'm not too peculiar. Sure I prefer to use three-ring, college-ruled notebook paper and a #3 three hard pencil—which must be sharpened to a perfect tip—when I write. I'm flexible though, I've adjusted to using college-ruled paper in tablet or spiral form and I will pick up a # 2 hard pencil if I can't have a #3. I won't discuss the things I love to use in writing, 'cause I always get in trouble for them. (Hint—I like omniscient point of views.)

Do quirks make our writing better? I don't know, but they do make a writer feel better. Why? Because quirks are like security blankets. (I'm not talking OCD.)

Quirks, like our qualities, address are individuality, make us who we are as writers and give tone to our voice.  Embrace your quirks?

Quit – Put that baby down or you'll spoil her.

This seems to contradict what I told you about moving ahead and firing up your senses. Because we all know that, Quitters never win and Winners never quit. Au contraire.

Winners do quit sometimes –sometimes they are forced, others, they choose to for a season.

Have you ever gone through a time where couldn't find the words to write a paragraph, let alone a sentence? Have you ever felt so frustrated that you'd force yourself to write and then want to cry? Whether from stress, or just having too much on my plate, I've been there. I had to lay the pen aside and quit writing for a time. And I had to give myself the permission to do so.

When my mother was going through her chemo and stem-cell transplant, and we were running the business and watching grandkids, and one of our children was going through hard times. (All at the same time) I made a conscious choice to sit my writing aside. Not for forever. Just for a season.

I had to quit berating myself for not getting a word count. I had to quit knocking myself for low desire and energy. I had to quit telling myself I was failing if I stopped writing for a time. And strangely, or sadly, it took me awhile to reach that point.

Having said that, if your world is unbalanced and you can do something about it, do it. If it means you have to step out of some position or quit something. Then be a quitter.

Quit that group you started because you thought it might be fun.
Quit going to that study that doesn't hold your heart or attention, God won't strike you dead.
Quit buying into the lie that you have to do everything and you can't say NO.
Quit the things you can that are pulling you apart and zapping your energy. It's okay.
I give you permission. God gives you permission.

Quiet – Shhh, the baby is sleeping.

Maybe you’re the kind of writer who has the radio on and you're talking on the phone while the Television blares and your kids are yelling in the background. Multitasking is your thing. Or perhaps you're juggling. (See Quit)

Scripture says we are to be still. To Quiet our hearts. It's good for our spiritual well-being, and for our mental and imaginational (is that a word?) well-being too.

Do you quiet your mind and let it flow with the dreams and vision God has for you? Do you let your characters take you on trips to foreign lands and lost times? Do you, like the prophet Elijah, slow down long enough to hear God in the gentle wind passing like a whisper through your brain?

Many of us won't allow for down time. We think we're wasting energy if we aren't constantly moving. But taking a break and quieting our spirit, doesn't mean we're lazing the day away.

It could just be the time you need to rejuvenate your thoughts and find the flow and proper structure for your words.

To reach that place where you dwell in quiet, you will need to use this last lesson. It is one of our greatest gifts…

Prayer— How come there's no instruction book with this kid?

If you believe that God has gifted you with imagination and a desire to write, why don't you talk to him about your WIP? Let him show you where your story should go? Why wouldn't you want him to quiet your heart and give you wisdom?

So many times we wait till we're frazzled or near the edge before we talk to God. Maybe we think our little quirk with our Characters isn't worth his time. Or the bridge in that one scene is miniscule when pit against eternity. We forget who created imagination and wrote the first story. Why wouldn't He care about our menial thoughts? He does. We just have to remember to ask. Scripture encourages us to pray without ceasing.

Could that mean there is a reason to pray every second of the day? Hmmm?

You might say your days are mundane. When big problems arise you might ask for help, but you can handle the little things. There's no reason to bother God.

But God wants you to bother him. The more you talk, the more comfortable you feel sharing the small things too.

Don't wait till you're dangling off some emotional cliff, before you call.

Prayer Is Necessary, Say One Now.

After several years of waiting I finally find myself a published author. My book In the Manor of the Ghost is available at the following sites.

Touched By Mercy will be available through Desert Breeze Publishing in Dec 2010 

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