The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. **Mark Twain

Friday, May 20, 2011

Does Pain influence your writing?

I am pleased that so many authors are finding their way to this blog.  Many of you have shared the blackest fears your are facing.  I understand completely.  Authors are strange people and we need all the emotional help we can find. 

That statement was not a criticism.  Authors must twist and turn every thought we have.  We must look at situations and problems in a different way.  We don't have the luxury of "spouting off" (although some do).  If we take our job seriously, we must be logical and analytical.  We need to find the little details and shine a bright light on them.  Most people don't look for hidden meanings, wooded bunny trails and possible dire consequences.  Authors are the voices that yell into the darkness -"Hey yawl!  I found a new trail and I think it's gonna be a good one!"

People follow authors and that's a huge responsibility.  We know that we have the potential to change the world - or at least our little part of it.  That responsibility weighs heavy on "good" authors minds and often pain comes along for the ride.  That pain is both good and bad.  Like fire - it can help us light the way and inspire our readers to move forward.  Also like fire - out of control pain can devastate the reputation and productivity of an author.

Let me explain. 

It is part of an author's job to keep up with the news so our writing will be fresh, contemporary and help our readers to either escape the problems of today or find new ways to deal with those problems. 

Authors have to face rejection letters, weeks and often months without a paycheck, criticism from so called friends, attacks from strangers who don't know anything about our research or point of view, mounds of research and that cluttered desk that calls in the night - clean me, write me, answer all your e-mails.  Our mind is constantly rumbling with ideas because we know that we are only as good as our next sale.  Even when the desperately needed check arrives - at that moment we are unemployed again.  Add to that the fact that we don't sit in some ivory tower waiting for a waitress to bring food or a maid to clean our home and you will find the breeding ground for excuses.  Nope, we are not a privileged group.  We also deal with all the personal issues of health, family, finances and faith - juggling our lives in the same way non-writers do.  About the time we are inspired and pounding those keys at our computer....mother calls and needs to go see the doctor - immediately!  Susie calls from school to say she forgot the notebook for her class project and without it she will get a failing grade.  The pastor calls wanting to know if you will take soup to a sick shut-in. 

Finally at 10pm you sit down to write in peace and suddenly you are overwhelmed with pain.  I personally don't like to call it depression.  I'm not convinced that properly describes what I feel.  Instead, when I think about the news - I feel pain.  It's a sense of loss that others just can't see the truth.  I see where certain philosophies lead and I know that individuals are about to walk off a cliff.  That hurts me!  It pains me to know that evil is so busy influencing the world.  It feels as though devious people who only want to make a buck - have no problem leading innocent readers down a dark and evil path.  I don't understand how some people sleep at night.  How they can write such obviously wrong things and then get on TV and try to defend them.  I hurt for their readers. 

For me....that pain leads to sorrow and to prayer.  I beg God to show me how to have a greater influence.  I lift teary eyes to heaven sobbing for God to lift my burden.  I feel so alone, overwhelmed and just not capable of finishing my task.  And that pain influences my writing.  How?  Either I pound the keys with anger - which thank goodness I never share those writings:)  or...I am so discouraged/careful that my writing lacks power and inspiration.

It's at that point that I have to ask God to help me find middle ground.  I can't allow my circumstances to keep me from writing.  I can't allow the tidal wave of other's pain to weigh me down and keep me avoiding the door to my office.  I have to shake it off.  Not with an "I don't care" attitude, but rather with the knowledge that I am laying those problems at the feet of Jesus and asking..."Can you watch these for me, while I do the writing you've called me to do?" 

I have to take a walk, listen to a song or a writers class, exercise or just call a friend.  I have to remind myself that for this moment everything is okay and the most important thing I can do is write the words God is placing in my mind. 

I'm not the Savior of the world - God is.  Looking for instant results, crowd pleasing words or the next best seller isn't my job.  My job is to accept the Holy Calling of Writing and do the work God has placed before me.  If I do that...then I am pleasing to the one person that really matters - God.

Dear God,

Help me to do your will today.  Help me to shine a light into this dark and depraved world.  Help me to handle the "situations" of my life with grace while I also find time to follow your Holy Calling.  I ask you today to bless my writing friends.  Help us to unite in the great task of spreading your word.  Bless our efforts and may they join together creating a sea of voices that will overwhelm evil and unite in the acknowledgement that Jesus Christ is Lord. 

Give all of my writing friends a productive and peaceful day....

God loves you and has called you to write,


Sunday, May 1, 2011

A safe encouraging friend

We all know that writing is hard.  Just when you think you are on a roll and the ideas are coming fast and furious - something happens and your creativity comes to a screeching halt. 

Maybe the children are sick or your husband didn't get that raise.  Maybe you receive that dreaded rejection notice or you find out your pastor is leaving.  The worst of all is when an "un-safe" friend whose only read two books in her life decides to tell you all the things she felt was wrong with your last published work.  Her opinion shouldn't be that important and reaches into your life and turns off all your creativity. 

You begin to ask yourself if writing is worth it.  You begin to question if you can complete your goals.  That one little bud of doubt has encouraged an entire garden of fears. 

When you feel this way, you need a drummer.  A friend that will beat the drum of encouragement and keep your eyes focused on your goal.  You need a safe encouraging friend to counterbalance the fears you face.  Every writer should have at least one encouraging friend - outside relative status -  that can keep you motivated.  I am blessed to have several of those types of friends.  Each of them seem to sense when I'm down.  They don't call and keep me on the phone for hours or try to counsel or talk me out of my doldrums.  Instead, they send me a ray of sunshine by e-mail. 

"Thinking of you today.  I love your writing."

"Keep it up Debbie.  I know it must be hard but I love your work."

"I was praying for you.  I know it must be hard working like you do - and most of it for free.  Just want you to know that I appreciate all your writings.  They mean so much to my life."

Each one of those precious friends share in any success I may have.  Their encouragement has kept me going when I wanted to quit.

It's a chilly day with gray clouds and rain.  I'm staring at a desk covered in piles of papers and red important stickers that announce - "Do me first!"  We've just returned from a hard and difficult trip.  I have to have a root canal and dentists scare me.   I was praying for God's strength when I received the following e-mail.

Jeremiah 29:11

"for I know the plans I have for YOU," declares the LORD..."

Never give the devil a ride, he will want to take over the driving.

Dear Woman of God

Be still for a while and praise God for His favor, His grace and His awesomeness

God is able to do the impossible and is always near.   He loves us unconditionally.
Dear God:   This is my friend, whom I love and this is my prayer for her

"Help her live her life to the fullest.  Please promote her and cause her to excel above her expectations.

Help her to shine in the darkest places where it is impossible to love.  Protect her at all times, lift her up when she needs you the most, and let her know when she walks with you, She will always be safe."

Love you Girl!

It is very important that writers cultivate safe and encouraging friends.  Thank you Pat for your encouragement today!  God bless you!

God loves you and has called you to write,