5 on Friday: Questions for author Ginny Yttrup

Author Ginny Yttrup’s third book, Invisible, released this week. You can read my review of it here.

Today, Ginny stops by to talk about writing, St. Augustine and her journey with God. ginny yttrup

1. How long have you been writing?

I began writing about 20 years ago. I had no education, but I had a dream. I began attending writers conferences, learned all I could, and 17 years into my writing journey, my first book, Words, was published. My writing journey is one of faith and perseverance.

2. Describe your writing routine/schedule.

Well, sadly, I work best under pressure. So typically, I wait until the last minute to begin a manuscript and then I write under panicked circumstances! That means, I’ll write 10-12 hours a day. I’m a slow writer, so I may not accomplish a large word count during that time, but it’s what I do. I’ll wake early—5:30 to 6:00 a.m., grab a cup of coffee, and go back to bed with the coffee and my computer. I’ll write until I feel the need to move.

Because I have major back issues due to reconstructive back surgery several years ago and rods and screws from my shoulder blades to my pelvis, I can’t stay in one position for too long. So once the pain hits, I move. I’ll get up and take a walk or a hot shower and then sit in a chair for a couple of hours and write some more. Then I’ll move back to bed where I can write from a flat position—often with an icepack beneath me.

I’ll write until 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. at the latest. I can’t think after that. Then I’ll go to bed by about 8:00 p.m. and start the whole thing over the next day. Coffee and exercise and chocolate sustain me during those writing months. And God’s mercy envelops me and strengthens me! Also, besides my kids and my housemates, I don’t typically see anyone during those months of writing.

3. In what ways were you inspired by St. Augustine in the writing of Invisible?

Oh, Saint Augustine. I really didn’t like him at first! He seemed like a gluttonous womanizer. But I stumbled upon a quote of his that was so enlightening. It tumbled around in my brain and I couldn’t seem to let it go. The quote is listed, along with two verses, in the beginning of Invisible. I finally picked up his life story—Confessions—and read it. Mind you, this man lived in the fourth century, so I was certain I’d feel no connection to him. But as I read his confession—the sins he struggled with and his transformation through Jesus Christ, I felt like I’d met a soul mate. People are the same through the ages. We are created in the image of God and we live in a fallen world and struggle against our sin nature. We are all the same—uniquely made—but our struggle and, for Christians, our salvation through Christ, is universal. I think if we accepted that fact more readily, we’d see less prejudice in our society.

4. In the book you talk about how important it is not to “edit your life” – how are you living out the power of that statement these days?

I live that statement by attempting to live authentically. I live by a “what you see is what you get” principle. That doesn’t mean that I share everything about my life with everyone. But it does mean that I attempt to live the truth and share the truth when appropriate. Sometimes, I’d much rather edit out the ugly parts of my life rather than share my failures with others or share the pain of my past or present, but God keeps nudging me to speak truth.

5. In what ways is God calling you out of hiding these days, calling you not to try and be “invisible,” calling you to live out the reality of Imago Dei in your life?

Ah…living life “visible” is one of my greatest challenges. I’d much rather hide away. MUCH rather! Yet God…  As I look back on my life, I realize now that God’s been calling me out of hiding my entire life. As an abused child—one who was sexually abused between the ages of 2 and 14, I never wanted to do anything but hide. I couldn’t tell the truth. I hated who I was. School was torture for me. I attended 5 different schools during my elementary years—so I was always the new girl and I was painfully shy. I hid behind that shyness and all that pain.

As a teenager, I hid behind alcohol and drugs.

These days, whenever I feel like hiding, I push myself out. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have days where I want to stay home—so I do—but instead, I’ve learned the difference between being an introvert who recharges by spending quiet time alone, and being asked to do something or go somewhere and letting fear keep me bound.

The two most personally challenging ways I’m visible these days is through marketing my books—that act of stewardship of the message God’s given me that so often feels like self-promotion. And through speaking to groups. The fact that I speak at events and retreats is simply one of God’s healing miracles in my life.

But it becomes easier and easier to live life in front of others when I take my eyes off myself—die to self—and instead focus on who God is and who He created me to be. I am created in His image! When I hide in shame—I hide Him too. I no longer want to do that. Instead, I pray He’ll shine through me—that His glory will be visible to those I encounter.