Check-in

Writing Fiction When the World is on Fire

I am not one to make excuses when I’m not productive. I am remarkable at abstaining from any activity that would challenge or stretch me. It would not be totally incorrect to call me lazy.

Oddly enough, this week, I found that I had a great desire to work. For five days straight writing is all I wanted to do. And not just journaling. I wanted to sit my butt in a chair and get real work done. I reordered ten chapters of my novel in progress, revised several sections, and wrote a new chapter. I got a lot done.

Under normal circumstances I would be proud of myself, of my recent stint with discipline. However, it doesn’t feel OK to do so. Not this week. It feels like, in the midst of all that productivity, I might have been hiding.

While I’ve been writing, in a number of cities around the U.S. protestors are challenging American’s comfort. Families are mourning. And while world changers are fighting for accountability in high places, I am making up stories. I am escaping.

I’m writing this post mostly to check in with myself, as I’m not sure if it’s OK to do this: to work, to create, to focus on anything other than the world and all of the many troubles that are yet so close. I’m not looking for anyone else to accept my guilt nor to tamper it. I am writing this post because I don’t know how to transform it. I am writing this because I don’t know if I have the right to.

Uncategorized

Nanowrimo 2019 – It’s a Mood

Nanowrimo starts this week and I’m preparing for it by lying on my couch with an entire blanket coiled around my neck. (My throat hurts and I’ve convinced myself that the blanket is a healing agent.) I have a mug of salted caramel tea steaming on top of my Star Trek: The Next Generation coaster, a handful of cough drops, and yesterday I checked Dreyer’s English out of the library. I’ve already read the first chapter. As far as I’m concerned, I have my tool kit! I’m ready to write.

For reasons I’m not entirely sure about, I chose not to prepare an outline or chapter guides… and I barely remember the names of the characters I was hoping to cover in the next sections of the story, but I have hope. I hope that when I sit down in front of my laptop the words will pour out of the large black void I call my imagination and ooze onto the lines of my Google Doc’s page. I hope that whatever talent I was able to muster during my two and a half year-long master’s program will snap back into place.

I haven’t won Nanowrimo since 2015. I haven’t been consistent about writing since I finished my MFA and I need a good kick in the butt. The judgmental gaze of my family hasn’t done the trick. Maybe the 50,000-word count goal is the answer. Maybe Nanowrimo will reignite my focus.

Believers, Encourage Yourself, Uncategorized

Renewed and Ready?

Today is Sunday – my favorite day of the week (until about 6pm, when it really sinks in that I have to report to work the next day). Don’t get me wrong, I love Saturdays. Saturdays are wonderful, but often busy with errands, chores, and other responsibilities. Sundays are supposed to be chill: church, a good meal, a few hours of relaxation.

desk-keyboard-typing-8264When I woke this morning, my plan was to write out my schedule in my planner, post to each of my blogs, read Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and start my Camp Nanowrimo writing. It’s after 8 PM and so far, I have completed none of those things.

Today, my pastor told the congregation to be doers. At the time, I took it as “go do something,” but I think he meant more than that. I think he meant, become a doer. It felt like my pastor was saying, do something consistently and your reputation for doing will proceed you.

This year, all of our sermons have been about real change. This blog was supposed to reflect that. I’m trying. My hope was to work a  little bit by little bit, one word at a time, one decision at a time. Luckily, it’s not too late to start. I can still win Camp Nano. Today’s only the 8th. I can read a few pages of Gilead before I turn in for the night, and I’m typing my post now. I’m doing something. I’m moving forward.

Believers, Uncategorized

Failing to Reap

A pastor once told me, “You don’t want to change. You like the idea of change, but the truth is, change scares you.”

At the time of said declaration, I’d been praying to get married for several years. I knew I wanted a husband. I wanted a family. I thought the pastor had it wrong. What I didn’t realize until years later, was that though I wanted a husband, I didn’t want to become a wife. I didn’t understand that if I was going to experience a shift, that shift would have to first occur inside my mind.

Nine years have passed since that pastor challenged me with the truth, and instead of wanting less, I want more. I want to write. I have a desire to start my own business. I’d love to be debt-free.

None of those desires will manifest unless I change.

I’m writing this to check in with myself and I’m challenging you to do the same. How have you changed? How many of your bad habits have you put aside in the past six months? Galatians 6:9 (the Amplified Bible) says: Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap if we do not give in. How many good habits have you committed to? Are you writing daily? Are you working out, meditating, praying, reading? Did you start a good habit and “faint” before it became muscle memory? Did you give in?agriculture-backyard-blur-296230

I believe that in Galatians 6:9, God isn’t only saying that you’ll get what you want when you do good, but that you’ll become what He wants. We won’t just reap good outside of ourselves but within too. If I write and don’t give up, I won’t just have written, but I’ll become a writer. I won’t have only given love, but the love inside me will take root and I’ll become one who loves.

It took me all of these years to see that true and lasting change comes from not giving up and now that I know, I don’t want to waste any more time. Join me. Let’s commit to doing the work.

Encourage Yourself, MFA, Time Management, Uncategorized

Out With the Familiar

The first quarter of 2018 is almost over. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that I failed in my daily writing challenge. Meanwhile, my monthly MFA packet is due this weekend. I’m playing catch-up. I’m tired, I’m cranky and disappointed in myself for procrastinating once again.

Today, I listened to a new podcast. It was called Forever 35. It’s a health and wellness show about self-care. During the episode, one of the hosts confessed that she feels good when she procrastinates. Her co-host explained that the bad behavior felt good because it was a familiar feeling. She said that the familiarity was comfortable, not the procrastination.

I was blown away! Just yesterday I spoke with a friend about my battle with waiting until the last minute to do everything. I hate it because it makes me crazy and irritable, but I can’t seem to stop doing it. However, now that understand why I procrastinate, I believe I have the power to stop.

Matthew 18:18 says, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” God has given me the power to bind and loose! I can bind the familiar spirit of procrastination and loose the spirit of commitment. I can change what makes me feel comfortable! I am empowered to change.

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I know this is a blog about failure, but won’t be discouraged. The first quarter may have ended without my having accomplished all I wanted, but the second will begin with a plan for attack. It’s time to try faithfulness. It’s time to let go of the spirit of procrastination.

All Christians know that faith without works is dead, so every day I will work. I confess with my mouth that I will work even if I am uncomfortable. It may be a good time to feel a little uncomfortable. Out with the old and in with the new.

Believers, MFA, Uncategorized, Writing Goals

The Weight of Glory

In December of 2018, if all goes as planned, I will have earned my MFA in Creative Writing. I’m excited about it. I’ll have finished something I didn’t know I wanted until God lead me to it. It’s hard work, but I know it’s worth the effort.

The truth is, I’ve never felt this tired or worried or more unsure in my life. The emotions associated with being overwhelmed are hard to manage. I was thinking about ways to cope when I came across this scripture:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

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Most mornings I log into Instagram and Twitter. I like to check up on the people I admire. When I do, I find that Roxane Gay’s been up all night writing or reading. Ava Duvernay has posted pics on a set during the wee hours of the morning. Shonda Rhimes has posted something about one of her many projects (projects that she’s running simultaneously!). These women are always working or traveling or preparing and they never seem to rest.

Now let’s go back to the scripture. It said that there is both a weight of glory and a light affliction. Does that mean that if I compare the weights of my affliction and glory, the affliction will prove to weigh less? Does that mean that my glory will be heavier to carry?

I feel like I am failing at keeping up with my responsibilities. I realize that my failure is due to my tendency towards procrastination and my deep desire to rest. But I have to give up both of those things and now. I have a good reason. I need to build up my muscles. If I can’t carry the weight of the affliction, I surely won’t be able to handle the glory.

 

Starting a Business, Time Management, Uncategorized

Untitled document

I am not a full-time writer. Truth be told, most days I’m not even a part-time writer. Most days I’m a writer trapped in a full-time employee’s body. Most days by the time I get home from work I can’t imagine turning on my computer. I can’t imagine doing anything other than stare at Youtube.

Today on Myleik Teele’s Instagram (she also has a podcast called MyTaughtYou ) she reposted a question, “Are you willing to let go to grow?”

Catch me on a good day, maybe a Sunday right after church, and I would say yes. I would yell yes! I would shout it from the rooftops. But when I think about my full-time responsibilities: my job, my son, our bills, I know I can’t let go to grow. We have to eat. I can’t chase my dreams with the determination and singular focus of the entrepreneurs who run the podcasts I listen to or bake the cupcakes I treat myself to once a month. Right now I can’t afford it.

However, while I will continue to spend precious writing time volunteering at my church and helping my entrepreneur friends; while I will continue to devote as much time as I can to my wonderful, brilliant son, I will also commit to letting go of my comfort zone. I will let go of my fears. I will lose a little sleep.

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Maybe I can’t let go in the same way other women can, but I can move at God’s speed. I can stay in sync with the flow of His Spirit and leadership. I will do what I can today and look forward to the work I CAN do tomorrow.

I will let go of my fears and leap a little at a time.

Apps, Check-in, MFA, Time Management, Uncategorized

Update Fail One

I called this post Update Fail One because I am sure that if I do nothing else, I will continue to fail at updating this blog on a consistent basis. How shameful is that?

Yet, onward!

It’s no secret that I am failing in every area of my life. If you read this blog you know that already. What you don’t know is that I have a solution. This week I got a life coach! Not a human. I’m broke-ish and can’t afford a human. But what I (sort of) can afford is an app.

It’s called Success Wiz and I’m hoping it will help me get my life together. Like a lot of people in the social media age, I have big dreams. The trouble with me is that I want it all right now and have no idea how I can make any of it happen. I am inconsistent and easily overwhelmed. I get anxious when I think about all I want to do and instead of working towards my goals a little at a time, I whine and complain and resent myself and everyone else… and that’s not productive.

Because I listen to Gretchen Rubin’s Happier Podcast, I know that I am an obliger. I know that I need to be accountable in order to effective. In the case of the Success Wiz app, I’m accountable for the money I will be spending every month on the pro version. It’s only three bucks, but I can’t see myself throwing three bucks out the window for an app I won’t use. I’ll either use it lose it. That’s for sure.

Over the next week, I hope to see a difference in my focus and work ethic. I have to turn in my submission packet to my MFA mentor. I need to create a registration list for the classes I’m helping to admin. I have to read a book and write annotations. I have to work and spend time with my son. I need to read submissions for the literary magazine I edit for and lead the outreach push. I have a lot to do over the next seven days.

My plan is to come back this time Saturday morning and write about whether or not the app helped me to do any of the things I just listed. And since app developers don’t pay unknown inconsistent bloggers to write about their products, you don’t have to worry that I won’t give an honest review. I’ll keep it 100%.

(And do me a favor this week – keep your fingers crossed. I’ll need all the help I can get.)

Time Management, Uncategorized, Writing Goals

The Do What You Can Challenge

It’s January 2018. Nearly one month down and eleven more to go. So far, I’ve accomplished nothing. Instead of finishing the projects I started in 2017, I’ve taken on new projects. Because that’s so smart…

I’m not worried about any of it. I’m not wise enough to be worried. I’ve created a weird distance from my projects. So much so, that while I am sporadically hit with spurts of anxiety, they don’t last long enough for me to actually do anything about them. I only get anxious long enough to whine.

But I’m going to take charge! What I have to do during this season is lower the bar. I’m changing my definition of success. I’m going to work with the real me. And the real me doesn’t have enough discipline to finish a novel draft this month. However, I can write every day. I may not be able to read 100 books this year, but I can read two or three a month. I can do what I can.

For the rest of 2018, I am going to challenge myself to do what I can. I’m going to call it the “Do What You Can” Challenge and I challenge everyone to participate. Do what you can do. Actually get up and do it.

This month, starting February 1st, the shortest month of the year, I am going to write every day. I am going to sit down for at least twenty minutes and write. It can be a blog post or a journal entry, but I’m hoping to work on my novel. I’ll check in with myself to see if it works, to see if I commit.

I hope everyone has realistic goals for themselves this year and I hope everyone is showing themselves grace if they aren’t so easily met. Either way, let’s try, and if we fail it’s OK. Failing is OK.