I’m honored to be a guest at Ritty’s Adventures in Writing today.
“When do you put ‘writer’ on your business card?”
Posted in Writing, tagged do you have to be published to be a writer, guest blog post, jane friedman, rhonda ritenour, ritty's adventures in writing, when do you call yourself a writer, writing on September 4, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
I’m honored to be a guest at Ritty’s Adventures in Writing today.
“When do you put ‘writer’ on your business card?”
Posted in 5 on Friday, faith & spirituality, Non-fiction, The Weekly Read, Writing, tagged best nonfiction of 2013, jeff goins, jen hatmaker, ruth haley barton, shauna niequist, stephen king on June 7, 2013 | 1 Comment »
I’m trying to read more nonfiction. I love stories and I can read fiction fast, but there’s a lot to learn and be challenged by in the nonfiction world, too.
Here are five nonfiction books I’ve read this year that top my list of best of 2013, so far.
1. 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Turned my world upside-down and introduced me to one of my favorite writers out in the book world and the Internet world. Great principles for simplifying your life.
2. Wrecked by Jeff Goins. My world was already wrecked when I read this, but it confirmed that God is up to something with us. If you’ve had a life-changing encounter with poverty or justice issues or on a mission trip, this is a good follow-up book for incorporating that experience into the whole of your life.
3. Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton. It’s a book not just to be read but experienced. It’s a guide for establishing rhythms and disciplines into your spiritual practices and living a balanced life.
4. On Writing by Stephen King. I can’t believe it took me till now to read this book. His writing advice and experience is invaluable.
5. Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. I know I just reviewed it this week, but her writing style is unique and I’ve never read a book that blends personal experiences, cooking and spirituality so well.
What’s on your list of favorites so far this year?
1. A group of writers. Mine meets tomorrow, and I look forward to this monthly get-together almost every time. When I stopped working as a journalist to be a stay-at-home mom, I lost my group of people who understand what it’s like to live in a writer’s head. Don’t have one of those? I used Google to find mine.
2. A supportive family. I’m finding among writers a common element: husbands (or wives) who encourage, support and sometimes even push their writer spouse to follow the dream. They watch the kids, give up the computer and say “yes” to hare-brained ideas.
3. A creative space. My desk is a mess and we have no extra rooms in our house. I want to believe that my creativity would bloom bigger and brighter if I had a room where I could close the door and escape into my fictional world. There are some good ones here.
4. A library of books. I was a reader before I was a writer, although probably not much before. Good stories inspire me to write good stories and how me how it’s done. Bad stories inspire me to write better stories and show me how not to do it. Reading is essential to learning the craft of writing. Click to tweet.
5. A foolish determination. I say “foolish” because often the pursuit of publication, the writing of a novel, the house spent putting words into sentences and paragraphs, looks like wasted time and effort. People will mock. And discourage. And reject. And judge. But the writer who knows what she is called to do and can’t not do it won’t let those things stop her. She might be momentarily discouraged and let doubts fill her mind, but in the end, she will passionately pursue the story.
What would you add to the list?
Posted in Children & motherhood, faith & spirituality, Writing, tagged faith, following Christ, God's will, Israelites wandering in the desert, spiritual maturity, submitting to God, the Lord's prayer, time management, trust on November 26, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
I’ve been reading a book that tells, in fiction style, stories of biblical men who led the Israelites out of Egypt and while wandering in the desert. They followed the Lord’s leading – a cloud by day; a pillar by night. When God moved, they moved. They didn’t know where they were going or how long they would stay once they got there, wherever “there” was, or whether they’d have water or food or shade. The Lord led them and they followed, totally dependent on His faithfulness and goodness.
And if your familiar with this story at all, you know that the people didn’t follow without complaint. They whined and complained and wished for slavery again even though they were free. And God answered even their whining.
He gave them what they asked, but sent leanness into their soul. — Psalm 106:15
A certain fast food burger joint made a name for themselves by telling customers: “have it your way.” Meaning, of course, that a customer could personalize and customize his burger to suit his tastes.
I wonder what this says about our mentality as a culture. Has having things “our way” made us lean in soul?
I often tell my kids, maybe not in the same words but with the same meaning, “Okay, have it your way.” As in, you don’t want to nap today? Okay, have it your way, but you’ll be in bed after dinner. Or, you don’t want to pick up your toys right now? Okay, have it your way, you’ll miss out on stories because you’ll be cleaning up?
This use of “have it your way” is completely different than what the burger chain intended. And I wonder if it’s what God meant when he gave the complaining Israelites what they asked for.
Some days, I feel like I’m fighting to have my way with the day and when I come to the end of myself, I throw up my hands and say, “Fine, God, have it Your way.” Where I want to be is in a place where I start the day saying, “Your will be done,” even if it means I deny myself what I want to do and instead do what the Lord leads.
Today, I have fought to get a few minutes on the computer – to blog, to read a few articles, to answer some e-mail. Instead, I’ve bought groceries, washed dishes, played games with the kids and now I’m in an epic battle with our son for a nap while fielding unending requests from our daughter about a snack. I only have so many hours before I have to start dinner and my husband gets home and then it’s bedtime routine and then I’m exhausted and there goes my day.
I was called to be a writer before I was called to be a parent, and both things are important to me. I will fight for both of them with everything I have but one will inevitably be the loser. (Honestly, all you author moms out there, I don’t know how you do it and I wonder if I’m doing this whole thing wrong.) And when I choose my kids and their urgent needs, a part of my writing life dies.
Saying to God, “Your will be done” is no easy or painless thing.
In another book I’m reading, the author describes this petition of the Lord’s prayer this way:
How different from the prayers of “help me get my way,” “make everything turn out the way I want it to” and “bless my projects” that we are so often disposed to offer! The more we are able to internalize this petition–”Thy will be done”–the more complete our journey to maturity in Christ.
So if asking God to give us what we want produces a leanness of soul, then asking for His will to be done must produce the opposite: a meaty, muscular faith and trust that can withstand the toughest of challenges.
Oh, how I’d much rather be a couch potato Christian. Instead God calls His followers to walk in faith, to exercise trust and to submit to His leadership.
Every day, we are faced with the same choice: to have it our way or to say to God, have it Your way.
So, which will it be?
But not as crazy for me as NOT writing.
See, I have this wacky relationship with words. I need them. I cherish them. I cry over them.
Last week as my husband and I took time to clean and sort our things in the attic, I found a box full of notebooks and journals. In them were more than a decade’s worth of words and lessons and notes about what I’d been reading in the Bible.
They were wet. Or had been. And when I pulled them from the box, they were moldy and stuck to each other and undecipherable.
And still I hesitated to throw them away.
Those were my words!
Fear not; they are in a garbage bag awaiting a trip to the curb this weekend.
It still pains me to see them ruined.
And yet I have hope because words are part of me. Maybe I can’t re-create the words or the notes or the life lessons. And maybe it’s good that I can’t relive the early years of our marriage with a day-by-day dramatic and emotional account in my own words.
Sometimes, I need to write just to get the feelings out. To process all that’s going on in my head. I think in written words, not spoken ones. When I open my mouth, I tend to say little or speak a ton of nonsense. I don’t really have a happy medium when I speak. Writing, though, is a whole different story. (Pun intended?) It’s my therapy. My encouragement. My soul-cleansing.
And it’s a demanding friend.
The more time I give it, the more time it wants. In the quiet of my home these last few days, I’ve showered my writing with attention. Tomorrow, I will feel guilt when I have to divert my attention to the children. Writing and children CAN coexist without attention starvation. I’m still working that balance.
Writing requires commitment. And commitment is always hard work. And hard work is rarely easy but almost always worth it.
I find myself comparing my writing relationship to other writers, and just like in friendships and marriages, no good can come of the comparison game. Still, I am jealous sometimes of the time other writers can spend with their writing.
And I wonder if I’ve chosen wisely, this friendship with writing. We are lifelong friends, though, and to lose this friend would be to lose a piece of myself. This friendship might not ever (okay reality check: will not ever) make me rich in the ways of money, but it enriches my life in ways I can’t tally.
So if you see me this month, and I have a far-off look in my eyes, it’s because I’m dreaming of my next writing span. Or I’m tired and undercaffeinated because I’ve been up early or late writing.
Bring me some coffee! I’ve got a date with a book’s worth of imaginary friends!
And now it’s been confirmed: I am definitely crazy.
If you want in on the crazy, here’s the manifesto.
Posted in Children & motherhood, Saturday smiles, Writing, tagged budget-stretching meals, cooking, deadlines, Downton Abbey, food, made-up words, potty training, Titanic, writing on July 21, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
This week has been a blur. I’m in the thick of a writing deadline and with my husband still in the hunt for a full-time job, I’m bringing home the bacon. (Mmm … bacon.) At least that’s the case this month. So I’ve spent more time out of the house writing (and drinking copious amounts of coffee) this week than I have in the last couple of months. Blogging hasn’t been high on my list of priorities, but I don’t want to lose the rhythm I had going, so I’ll try to keep up. If not, I promise I’ll be back. Don’t go away! (Okay, that sounds a little desperate.)
Even with deadlines breathing down my neck, writing makes me smile. More than that, it feeds my soul. And I come home mentally tired but spiritually refreshed and better able to hang with the kiddos.
Speaking of hanging with the kiddos, Phil has made the writing possible by staying home with them four mornings this week so I could write. It’s not easy (I know!) and I love him more for it.
Last week we started potty training Corban and this week, he’s catching on like it’s his job. I don’t want to get my hopes up that he’s going to be easier than Isabelle was, but we have drastically decreased our diaper use in a week. Even Isabelle has stopped wearing any overnight diapers this week. All I can say is “Thank You, Jesus.” Our finances are tighter than they’ve ever been and spending less money on diapers is a major deal.
Because money is tight, we’re trying to better consume the food in our house before we have to go to the store to buy more. That means kitchen adventures are plentiful. And mostly successful. Yesterday we made scones to eat for breakfast this morning. Yummy. And I repurposed some leftover shredded beef from tacos into a beef pot pie. Also delicious. Next up: I’m going to make some cornmeal crackers for snacking on. Crackers from scratch … who knew? I certainly didn’t. I’ll let you know how that one turns out.
I’m lovin’ our kids’ imaginations. At least once this week, they introduced themselves as “bread” and “Fred.” Those were their names. And they stuck to that story. Now Isabelle, who is fond of rhyming these days, is making up her own exclamations. Today I heard her say, “Jiggers and jaggers!” when she was attempting something difficult and as we approached a set of bleachers in the park across the street she said, “Bleed my beachers.” Not exactly “Kiss my grits,” but it’s close. I hope this doesn’t turn into preschool swearing. I’m not ready to deal with that yet.
She comes by ridiculousness honestly. In conversation with my husband today I said these words: “Well, the Titanic just sank …” I was referring to the plot of a book I’m reading. It’s not everyday you can slip “Titanic” into conversation. And speaking of the early 20th Century, we finished watching the first season of Downton Abbey last night, and I’m thrilled that our library system has Season 2, even if we have to wait for it. We can’t get it instantly on Netflix right now, so waiting our turn is our best option. Maybe by the time Season 3 premieres, we’ll be caught up.
We still don’t know what tomorrow (or the next day or the next day) will bring but we are praising God and trusting Him because He is good.
Whatever your situation today, rejoice in that.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
Posted in arts and crafts, Children & motherhood, faith & spirituality, Writing, tagged creatives, imagination, telling stories to your kids, the creative life, writing on July 2, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
God made me a creative. I’m no better or worse than someone who isn’t. It is what it is. Lately I’ve been realizing creativity is a blessing and a curse. With the following list, I’ll try to explain.
BLESSING: You’re never lonely. As a creative, I’ve always got characters and stories in my head. Or a good book within arm’s reach.
CURSE: People might think you’re antisocial because you prefer to spend your time in a made-up world.
BLESSING: The more you use it, the more you get. Sometimes the words or ideas won’t come until I start writing. Anything.
CURSE: It’s an unpredictable gift. Case in point, when I should have been packing myself for the overnight trip to take the kids to their grandparents, I was engrossed in a new writing assignment, letting the words that have been lodged in my head flow freely at last. I’ve been jotting notes about this assignment for days, in between other activities because I can’t take the time I need to sit down and write for a long period of time.
BLESSING: Your kids will ask you for “imagination stories” to put them to sleep.
CURSE: You will sometimes put yourself to sleep with your stories.
BLESSING: You tend not to be satisfied with “the way things are” thinking that everything can be improved upon. (This may also be a curse.)
CURSE: You will fight the urge to answer respectable questions like, “Where are the kids?” with ridiculousness like, “We sold them to the circus.” Or “We traded them in for a new pair of shoes.” People will not always find this as funny as you mean it.
BLESSING: You can do what you love and get paid for it.
CURSE: People might think you’re flighty, ditzy or lazy because you work with words for fun and get paid for it.
BLESSING: Your friends will think you’re clever with your Facebook posts and tweets. (Or at least you hope they will.)
CURSE: You’ll think you’re much funnier than you really are.
BLESSING: You’ll need LOTS of alone time to hone your art.
CURSE: You won’t get it because you have two kiddos demanding your attention. All. The. Time.
BLESSING: Your kids will enjoy being creative, too.
CURSE: They will interpret creativity as meaning it’s okay for them to color their entire legs green or draw dots on their faces.
BLESSING: You are full of ideas and opinions.
CURSE: You can’t turn it off.
And on that note, I leave you with this incomplete and possibly incoherent list.