Friday, October 31, 2014


I subscribe to my cyber-friend Kimberly's blog. She wrote a post this week that had me "Uh-huh'ing" and nodding the entire way through.

When You're Desperate to Be Pregnant (with the Things of God).

I want to be a published author, yes. But it is, honestly, not something I seek more than God. I am not desperate enough to skip steps to get my way or to circumvent the hard work of breaking into the traditional publishing world by self-publishing because I want to be published so badly I'll do anything to get it. (I'm not saying, btw, that all who self-publish do this. But, sadly, I've seen more that do than don't.) I am not willing to run ahead of God and His plan for me. I am content to write where I am at, whether published or unpublished.

Of course, it'd be thrilling to see my books in print and on a library shelf or bookstore shelf, but, like Kimberly, I have laid those plans and dreams down, down before the LORD. He is the one who directs my steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6) I trust in Him, with my writing, with my dreams, with my time. My life is not my own and neither is my time. Every breath I take is because He has allowed me yet another. I want my life and my writing to reflect His glory. I want to be desperate for Him. I am so glad to have had this reminder this week!  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Critique groups

What can I say about critique groups? Only that they are amazing, terrifying, invaluable, and humbling! I've been attending a critique group for many months now, and it's been worth every minute of the hour plus drive. The particular group I meet with has anywhere from 10-30 people on any given month, and we divide into groups of four to six people for critiquing.

We bring copies of our manuscripts, pass them out amongst our break-out group members, and take turns giving critiques. Critiques consist of reading a work aloud, spending several minutes in silence writing a critique, and then ending in sharing of individual feedback. Feedback is "sandwiched," meaning that we begin with a positive comment, followed by a "criticism," and ending with another positive remark.

Critiquing is nerve-wracking, humbling, and downright necessary. Unfortunately, it can feel a bit like stripping down to your underwear and asking for honest opinions about your body. Seriously. But the great thing is that you're not alone, and the purpose is truly to make you a better writer. Everyone is there for the same reason, not because we're perfect writers, but because we know there is always room for improvement. I believe that most writers would agree that they didn't get to where they are by themselves, meaning that any improvement in their writing had the input from others who desired to make it better, too. Who doesn't want to see others do their best?

Successful writing isn't defined solely by being published. It's by doing the work of a writer, which means writing, learning the craft, and using the resources available (like critique groups, writing conferences, SCBWI, etc.). It means putting yourself out there despite the guaranteed criticism. But take heart, dear writer. Behind every good writer is a good critique group.

Friday, October 17, 2014

When you feel like a failure

So, writers? We're a curious bunch. We come off all confident and cocky when wielding a keyboard or slinging ink, and we've learned quickly how to develop thick skins. However, a common theme I've noticed the past three years as I've launched into the writing world is that many, if not most, writers struggle with self-doubt and feeling like a failure. Myself included. The problem is, we're too good at masquerading.

See, we're good with words. We're good at playing the game. But the game stops being funny when we hit the "enter" button or shove the submission envelope into the mailbox. Suddenly, fear and doubt take over, speaking things like, "That was a stupid thing to do." and "Why did you ever think you could be a writer?" The voice of failure cups his hand next to your ear and whispers, "Your writing stinks. No one wants to read what you write."

It'd be so easy to give up and give in, wouldn't it, when we hear these things? But the other thing I know about writers is that they are also persistent. (My mother always said "stubborn," but I say "determined.") Writers are passionate and that passion fuels our persistence. True writers recognize that failure is part of the process. They acknowledge that failure is not a reflection of who they are or of their writing. They see that failure is the most valuable of teachers. They use it to become better writers.

How appropriate and timely that I would come across the following post this week!

When you feel like a failure, dear writer? Write on. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Five Minute Friday!

It's Five Minute Friday! I waited with bated breath for today's word. Dear God, it's like a runner lining up their toe at the starting line (which I would know exactly NOTHING about!), heart pumping, deep breaths being inhaled and exhaled, waiting for the gun to go off. So here goes! The word for today is: CARE

I'm wondering how many different directions one can go with the word "care." I'm not sure which direction I should take this. I could go with a spiritual bent, or I could go with a worldly one. I think I will go worldly.

What does it mean to care? When I think of "care," I think of compassion. To care necessitates having a heart of compassion. No one cares without being moved by compassion. I want to be a woman, a writer, of compassion. I want to take infinite care with the words I use. Words can heal. Words can wound. I care about the words I use. I want to make a difference with my writing.

Why does any writer want to write? Because they care. They care about the words they use. They care about the legacy they will leave behind. They care...and my time is up! Happy #fmfparty!

A little bit about Five Minute Friday:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Reviewing what's on the bookshelf

I finished reading "The Shack" last week. (Yes, 'cause that's how I usually roll. Always a day late and a dollar short on the trends.) It's a book that, most assuredly, is not considered light reading. In fact, I am still pondering over it, wondering what truths to pull from this fictional book. Because I do believe there are definite truths in it. For instance, Mack, the main character, must ultimately make the decision to forgive or not in order to have healing. I could give several more examples, but I don't want to give it away for anyone who hasn't read it yet. (I can't be the only last hold-out!)

I thought it was extremely well-written, perhaps because I can identify so closely with the theme of grief. I especially liked Mack's description of his grief as "The Great Sadness." Yep, that's an adequate description for child loss. I also thought the portrayal of the relationship between the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was quite good. It was interesting, of course, to consider calling God "Papa." On one hand, I completely agree. God is the perfect father, one with whom you can have an intimate, trusting relationship. Yet I also cringe just a bit because of the fear of losing the reverence of God, of not respecting Him as the Almighty. I am afraid there are those who make God so familiar that they lose their holy fear and awe of Him. So I continue to mull over this aspect.

I also liked that it portrayed God in ways that one would typically never consider. I believe we put God in a box, so to speak, way more than we care to admit. However, at the same time, I do think it crosses the line a bit to put God in the kitchen. (Read the book for context on this one!) God, again, is in the ultimate place of authority, both here and in heaven, I believe.

What I didn't like was how it ended. There is closure. It just seemed a bit too "tied-up neatly" for me. I didn't like it because I know that there are thousands of bereaved parents out there who don't get an answer, who don't find the closure they so desperately seek. Yet, I understand this is fiction. It's the way it works. It is the way we, as humans, want it to work. It is in our nature to want answers, to have things make sense. All in all, it's a great book. I read it less than a week, and that truly should tell you something!

I give it 4 out of 5 stars!