the writer of faith

I would love to stop worrying about how people of my faith will accept my writing. I wish I didn’t think about how many faces will cringe if they read a curse, a traumatic scene, or a wrong decision. But writing isn’t about characters who are perfect; it’s about characters who are real, so that we can learn about reality through a story. This post is absolutely beautiful. I also had a hard time making it through Mystery and Manners, but it was worthwhile all the same.

Write at Your Own Risk

Some time ago a friend who is of my faith said to me, without any sort of prompting, “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow your books in my home.” She did not elaborate. We both knew what she was talking about.

Some of my students who love their religion have asked me how I, as a writer, cope with the expectations of people in a faith community. These young writers have no desire to rebel, and yet in an effort to portray the truth, sometimes fiction offends.

When I am writing, it is between me and God. I don’t allow anything, not my parents or my religious leaders or my children or my neighbor whom I am obligated to love, to interfere with what happens when I am putting pen to paper. I find that every book I write demands that I wander in the wilderness for a time. I’ve…

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A to Z Bookish Survey

atozsurveyStole this from Jackie Lea Sommers, who took it from The Perpetual Page-Turner.  SO FUN! Do one and let me know what your answers are!

Author you’ve read the most books from:
Probably Ted Dekker. He just kicks them out so fast! Plus, I went through a phase when the Circle Trilogy, the Paradise series, and the Lost Books all came out, and I was in awe of how interconnected they were.

Best Sequel Ever:
Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead. Honestly, I didn’t think I could love the Robin Hood legend any more than I already did, and Lawhead always surprises me with the quality of his second books. Normally, those are the letdowns for me in a series, but not with his books.

Currently Reading:
Peter Pan by J.M. Barry and Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien. Finally,

Drink of Choice While Reading:
Hmm, coffee or tea. Depends on my mood, the weather, and the tone of the book.

Ereader or Physical Book?
PHYSICAL BOOK. E-readers don’t smell like wisdom and laughter and bitter-sweet silence.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:
Oh gosh, really? Marco Alistair. Peter Pevensie. I’m sure there’s more, but those are the first two that come to mind.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:
Peace like a River by Leif Enger. Honestly, I’m nervous about books that have titles that sound like Christianese cliches, but after meeting Enger in person, I knew that I had to read it. If he wrote anything like how he spoke, I knew I would be in awe the entire time. He didn’t disappoint.

Hidden Gem Book:
I’m sure there’s a more hidden book that I’ve read besides this one, but the one that comes to mind right now is Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. It’s probably one of the more underrated of her works, but it is so sarcastic and hilarious, making fun of society and romanticism and conspiracy theories with the impression that she’s keeping a straight face the entire time. You can be sure that I didn’t.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:
Probably when I read The Chronicles of Narnia for myself for the first time. My parents read them to me when I was a child, and so seeing them come alive for a second time was marvelous. Also, the time that I started reading a book so boring during a summer vacation that I decided writing my own would be more enjoyable. I can’t even remember the title of the book, only that it had something to do with people trying to steal some (Scottish?) stone used in coronation ceremonies. Anyway, that might be when I realized that I really liked and wanted to write.

Just Finished:
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Not the most lyrical writing I’ve ever seen, but I do give Rivers props for tackling a difficult story and portraying it in a realistic way. Not many Christian authors will get in your face and gritty about something as gut-wrenching as prostitution, and she makes Angel’s choices (as a reflection of Gomer in the book of Hosea) make sense.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
Paranormal romance. Those words should never go together.  And horror novels. I just don’t see the point. Anything along the lines of 50 Shades of Grey Also, I don’t think I could force myself through another Amish romance.

Longest Book You’ve Read:
Great Expectations or Bleak House, both by Charles Dickens. Not so much for number of pages as for number of yawns and ‘headdesks,’ and screeches of frustration and annoyance.  

Major book hangover because of:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Seriously could not believe that it ended. Not that it ended badly or suddenly, but perfectly, with a few unbound ends, so that I knew the story continued, but it just wasn’t written, as badly as I wanted her to keep going.

Number of Bookcases You Own:
I guess my books only take up two so far, but if my husband ever moves some of his books to an office, a different bookshelf, or boxes, you can be sure those shelves won’t stay empty for long.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:
Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge.

Preferred Place To Read:
The couch, outside, or in bed.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:
“Do you remember all of your audiences?” Marco asks.
“Not all of them,” Celia says. “but I remember the poeple who look at me the way you do.”
“What way might that be?”
“As though they cannot decide if they are afraid of me or they want to kiss me.”
“I am not afraid of you….” (AAAAAAAHHHHHHH! I love The Night Circus so much! This is a feels quote, if you didn’t catch that.)

Reading Regret:
The two paragraphs of Twilight I forced myself to read for a class assignment/exercise.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):
The Book of Mortals series by Ted Dekker. The sequel I finished a couple of weeks ago disappointed me a bit in its predictability, but I still want to see the adventure through. And Lord of the Rings, but those are currently in my possession.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Chronicles of Narnia by Jack Lewis (I don’t care if that’s cheating; I can’t pick), and–even though it’s REALLY hard to pick because I generally don’t have favorites–To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:
The Chronicles of Narnia. I have written fan fiction. Someday, I might apologize for that. But this is not that day.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:
The third Hunger Games book. Mockingjay doesn’t exist.
And a book by a friend. Don’t know when that’s happening, but it’s just got to, because it’s absolutely brilliant.

Worst Bookish Habit:
Husband posits that I have a bad habit of not giving classics their due. I think I give them only what they deserve, and not much more than that. Although, I will admit to being nervous around them, because some of the ones that I have read really don’t deserve much at all.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
(My husband tried this one on his bookcase and ended up on one of Margaret Thatcher’s memoirs. Go figure.)

Your latest book purchase:
Peter Pan! Just got this today, and I’m so excited that I get to finally read and own this book.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):
I haven’t let myself stay up late reading lately, just because I know I’d die at work the next day if I did, but I was probably home on break during college when I stayed up until at least 3:30 A.M. finishing Catching Fire (the second book in The Hunger Games series) by Susanne Collins.

Would You Rather…

My husband posed an interesting question to me the other night:

Would you rather…

A.) be an author who has one “master work” that goes down in history (e.g., Lord of the Rings trilogy for Tolkien, or Ben Hur for Lew Wallace)

B.) be a writer who has a dozen or so decently good novels, but with a few that stand above the rest (Ted Dekker was cited here, with the Circle trilogy as his forte)

C.) be a novelist who writes one fantastically good book, but then people start to cringe when they see your other works (namely, Dan Brown? I wouldn’t actually know. I’ve never read his stuff)

Obviously, I didn’t opt for option C. I want people to enjoy what I write, and I definitely don’t want to put out work that I’ll be ashamed of later. So that left options A and B. I have trouble with this one. I’d love to think that I have some brilliant story brewing, and I just don’t know what it is yet. I’d also like to think that I could have more than one brilliant story hunkered inside me somewhere. But what if it had to be one way or the other? What if I could be a very good author, stacking my books alongside King and Dekker and other “good” writers, but nothing that would make the canon of “must-read” literature? Or, on the flip side, what if I could be an incredible author, but the only thing I’ll have to show for it would be one major life’s work? Would I be satisfied if it turned out to be only one of those options? Or neither?

The only consolation is this: I’m young, and I just can’t know. So I’ll write. I’ll try. I’ll fail, probably more than I’ll care to admit. But maybe I’ll be able to salvage something wild and beautiful and raw, something I won’t want to keep majorly editing after I know it’s finished. It’s a lot of dreams, and a lot of work, but I know that I’d shrivel inside if I didn’t try. Writing takes courage. The courage to fail and try again, to write something truly hideous and being able to look it in the face and spot the beauty beneath it all.

So no matter the outcome, whether I end up published or taking my stories alone with me to my grave, I’ll still write. I’ve got to try. So what would I rather do? I’d rather write, thank you very much.

What about you? What would you rather do? Never mind at this point what it would take to get there. If you had to choose, which would you pick?

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Also, thank you to my wonderful friends and family who helped me to realize how much writing means to me after over a year of hardly daring to put words on paper. You know who you are, and I love you so darn much.

Want to specifically know what got me started on the path back to writing? Check out Jackie Lea Sommers’ blog, Lights All Around . Check out her writing, her story, and her monthly meme “Opus on First.” It was a crappy first draft for that meme that got me thinking again. And beta-reading her novel, which I hope gets published soon, because I desperately want to own it.

Opus on 1st

Yes, I realize I haven’t posted in forever. Yes, I am sorry about that, but only in some ways. Thanks for putting up with my writing hiatus, a recovery period from college. 

On a higher note, I am glad to say that I am finally writing again! Secondly, because everything that I write is like an embarrassing child right now, I won’t do much in the way of sharing anything creative. On the up-side of that point, however, I do have a sweet treat for all of you readers and writers. 

My friend Jackie is absolutely fantastic, both as a person and a writer. On her own blog, Lights All Around, she’s started a monthly meme called Opus on 1st. Every first day of the month, she will post a piece of writing on her blog that stems from a short, vague prompt. The best part? Other writers will be posting their works as links in a comment on her original post. Hours of reading, folks! 

LIke I said before, I’m not going to post my own writing just now, but maybe I’ll work up enough courage to post something in the next few months to come. 

All that being said, check out Jackie’s blog, her writing, her story, everything.
If you’re a reader, enjoy yourself with August’s prompt: Yellow. 
If you’re a writer, enjoy reading, but think about participating as well. She’s got prompts lined up for the next several months. 

Check out all the Opus on 1st postings here!
http://jackieleasommers.com/2013/08/01/opus-on-1st-yellow/

 

 

Little Urges

I just may be getting back to the point where I want to write again. It’s all started very slowly, of course, but it gives me hope that I won’t be in a writing drought forever. Let me give you a couple things that have been going on lately that give me hope for an end to my writer’s block:

1) Purse shopping. This might seem really random, but it actually did seem like a small step toward getting back into writing. I was meeting a friend for dinner near the mall and I had arrived early, so stepped into a store. I wandered into the purse section, and while I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything, I started wondering what kind I would buy if I did have an excuse/money. I realized that I wanted a bag–not just a purse, but something large enough to carry a wallet, my keys, a cell phone, a large book, and a good sized notebook and at least 3 pens all at once without getting too full. Regardless of how much weight that would be, I was so happy that the thought of carrying a notebook around again was appealing.

2) Meeting with amazing writers. One thing that I really do miss about college is being around amazing people and even better writers. I’ve been able to meet with a couple in the past few weeks, and being reminded why I love the written word has been healing. Talking with people who are passionate about what they do is infectious. I am so grateful for you all in my life; you know who you are.

3) Reading the works of amazing writers. I recently had the privilege to meet with one amazing writer in particular and read a draft of her YA novel. Being able to critique again, remember what makes writing so marvelous, and talking with her about the love of her characters and the books that have inspired her writing made me want to emulate her and write something worthy of someone else’s raving, like I did for her. If you want to see why I was ranting, start reading Jackie’s novel here–well, at least the two chapters that I could find on her blog (Ch. 1: http://jackieleasommers.com/2012/08/17/revisiting-chapter-one/    And Ch. 2:  http://jackieleasommers.com/2012/09/09/sunday-afternoon-reading-chapter-two/  )

4) Being reminded by characters in these stories why I fell in love with writing in the first place. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for Jackie Lea Sommers. She is just amazing. Her writing is resonant, and I love talking with this woman who is so filled with love of God, words, writing, characters, and story. And John Green. Anyway, one of her latest characters (from the novel in the links that I posted above) was a writer, and the way that he spoke about writing helped me to remember what adventure it is to write, to create, and to feel how each word slides, grates, caresses, jumps, tickles across my fingertips as I type it. Not only is Silas Hart a well-fashioned character and fun to be around, but he reminds me of how writing is a mystery, even to the author, and how it is so much more than word-craft.

5) Visiting my college for the first time since graduation. Another shout out to Jackie, but I found I had to use her words when I visited my college for the first time since graduation today. We recently met at a Caribou near school, and she commented how she hadn’t been there in such a long time, and how it was like coming home–the place where she had gone nearly all the time to write her first novel. I sat in the exact same chair today as I had been lounging in as I put the finishing touches on my senior capstone and submitted it. Revisiting the place where I had done my last considerable stint of writing. It was good to remember how I felt about writing then, where I could sit and actually enjoy my work, my art.

And that’s how I’m working myself out of this pit devoid of creativity. I have had certain bursts of words, where they have a distinct taste. The comeback will happen… just waiting for it all to erupt.

Oh, and I listened to this song today. It also happened while I was finishing my capstone. Comeback by Redlight King from The Avengers.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGmOz2MQPh4

Quality Christian Fiction: A Prayer from a Friend

This is not mine, but the ache of every Christian writer.

My friend Jackie Lea is amazing, both as a writer and a woman. Is her heart’s cry, which places the echoes of mine so fully into words, the same as yours? Read her prayer/post here.

http://lightsallaround.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/quality-christian-fiction/

P.S. You should also check out the rest of her blog. It will give you writer’s envy, but it is so worth it. Gorgeous stuff!

Burnt out Writer: Hating your Love

This might seem ridiculous, but I haven’t had the urge to write for a while. I’ve thought about it, to be sure; I’ve never stopped brainstorming. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to write ever since I poured myself into my last major project: my senior portfolio in college. It’s been a few months since then, but I still haven’t been able to creatively put words on a page–and enjoy it.

Maybe I’m the only one experiencing this, but it seems that if I push myself so hard on a writing project, when it’s all said and done, even if I’m happy with it, I’ll just be burnt out. Out of fuel. And I begin to hate what I love. I’ve been working towards forcing myself to write, but when I don’t have the desire, the result ends up being less than satisfactory.

I’ve heard that this should wear off this fall, when I would have been starting classes if I were still in school. I’m just not sure I want to wait that long. Have you ever been burnt out to the point of hating to do what you used to love? Was there any way to fix it, besides waiting for it to go away? And when I don’t care, you won’t get much of anything good on here, either. And that’s rather annoying for you all, I suppose.

Any suggestions? I am really tired of hating what I love.

Pretty much sums it up right now.