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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weeds 2


To date, I have well over 100 pages and close to 50,000 words strung together for my novel, Belabored, which I hope to pitch to hungry agents and editors at this summer's Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

That is my plan.

It may or may not be God's plan.

It most certainly is not Satan's plan.

While some may protest there's no such thing as evil incarnate, I would posit that it stands to reason if there's a God, there has to be His opposite.

I mean, didn't Newton prove that?

Satan is not someone I spend a lot of time dwelling on, because I consider my time more productively spent focusing on the one who bested him at Calvary, and promises to best him again at the end of time as we know it.

Still, he's a force to be reckoned with, and not someone I'd care to go toe to toe with in my own strength.

Yet, that's exactly what I've been doing for the last month or so.

While my novel is most certainly progressing, it's also stalled in many areas. The writer's curse, I suppose, is an ugly conglomerate of waiting, procrastination, discouragement, and bad self-talk ("You, the next Harper Lee? Come on! Really? Your book's nowhere near finished, and you think you're gonna pitch it this summer?").

As I huffed and puffed behind our old-fashioned push mower recently (yup, we're one of those families), I marveled at how my sons manage to get a nice, clean cut out of those overtaxed blades. They seemed no match for the stubborn dandelion weeds that simply refused to bow to my wishes. Furthermore, I couldn't help but notice that the ones I did manage to sever were back in full force a mere 24 hours later (either that or they had some pretty fast growing relatives who showed up to mourn the loss of their kinfolk).

Now, that is just wrong.

I mean, when someone spends upwards of an hour cutting the grass on a hot, sticky day, she expects the lawn to look mowed for at least the better part of the next day.

Not happening.

So I got out there with my clippers and tried to tidy things up.

Then the rains came and, well, you know how that goes.

No matter how hard I try, those tenacious weeds aren't going away.

In the midst of those pesky interlopers, though, stand some pretty stalwart little flowers. I'm not a gardener (my idea of planting is throwing some perennials in where I have an opening and hoping for the best), but even I know the difference between a bloom and a weed. This is some sort of wild flower robed in virginal white and adorned with tiny little blossoms, none of which would bend their elegant necks to the blades of my mower.

Did you catch that? They hung in there, despite the cutter's best efforts.

The thing about mowers is, they don't distinguish between organisms. They hack up both beauty and beast in one fell swoop of their mangling teeth. So it really comes down to the plant's tenacity as to whether or not it's going to survive.

I'm thinking I have to choose whether to pattern myself after the flower or the weed. Either way, Satan's gonna come after me. But being allied with the master gardener gives me a distinct advantage over the weeds.

For more like this, check out: Morsels for Meditation...: Weeds

Morsels for Meditation...: Tenacity

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Impasse

I've been experiencing an impasse lately, on many levels. I guess it's been obvious I've been off the radar for months, but there's been a good reason for that. I'm writing a pro-life novel called Belabored. I finished the guts of it over the winter, but there's still a lot of work to be done in the way of revision and fact checking. I'm sort of in a holding pattern, waiting for interview responses and still trying to find sources whose brains I can pick to ensure the book's credibility.

I think this is the flip side of writer's block. I'm going to call it writer's wait.

I don't mean to whine (well, maybe I do - the post is called "Impasse," after all, so I may as well explain how I got there), but this waiting stuff really is for the birds. I'm a pretty proficient waiter, having waited for things like marriage and motherhood and scads of other milestones and non-milestones much of my life. In fact, it's only in recent years that I've learned how to turn the waiting into productive action, sometimes disguised cleverly as prayer and inaction. 

Then there's the matter of worry. My family experienced a serious crisis recently, followed by several disappointments of varying shapes and sizes. I don't do setbacks very well. I generally like to do something once and have it stick, so to speak. I get annoyed and frustrated when things don't go as planned. No crisis I've ever known has stuck to my timetable or played by my rules, so the aforementioned events have upset my equilibrium and played havoc with my emotions.

I found myself at a point of "where do I go from here" this past weekend. I complained to my son, who offered a listening ear and no small degree of comfort, as he always does (bless his 18-year-old, about to graduate and go into the big, wide world unfettered by Hovercraft Mama, heart). He immediately plucked Captain Janeway and Commander Ryker, two Star Trek Christmas ornaments who sit atop our doorways, from their regal perches, and ordered me to draw strength from those compelling characters. He then did what he always does, offered his services around the house, even though he's got a wicked case of Senioritis, with AP exams and finals right around the corner. 

Bless his heart.

But I was one hurting, discouraged puppy, and needed to take a few more steps. 

During the worst periods of my life, I've found great help in counting my blessings. In so doing, the clouds somehow part and make way for some pretty significant sunshine. 

So I took paper and pen and started scribbling. By the time I was done, I had a sizable list, not least of which was the fact that we weren't harmed or robbed when our back door was left open all night recently! Oft unnoticed things like safety and security, Providence and provision, take on greater importance when committed to print. 

Maybe that's why I'm a writer.

It also didn't hurt to take the day off and "play" with my youngest sister, Roz, who obligingly bought me frozen yogurt and helped me goof off while her dog, Sadie (everybody's blessing), gave off peaceful vibes and made everything seem better. 

I still haven't figured out how to avoid stress while keeping up with the news. I'm sure that's part of the problem, but I'm no longer willing to shut my mind to the great problems of the day in order to keep a phony grin on my face. Frankly, I'd rather force my features into a half smile while realizing this world's not my ultimate home than hide my head in the proverbial sand, as I did for too many immature years.

Today is the National Day of Prayer. My friend and I will be showing up at some events and making our voices heard alongside other believers who also refuse to pretend everything's fine. We'll continue to rise early most mornings to lift our voices to heaven, trusting that the one who hears those prayers will also answer them. And we'll commit to the great concepts of the Serenity Prayer, which help us figure out what's our business and what belongs to God.


 I'm beginning to see a break in my impasse.