Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do You Desire to Write?

What is the desire of your heart? What do you want to do with your life? Your time?  For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to write.  Not just write, but to be a writer. But life happened – children (I am blessed with many), struggles, victories, happy occasions and not so happy occasions.

Now….now I can write!  I love writing Christian fiction. As Christians I feel God has equipped each of us with various gifts and talents to share the gospel.  Some people will never pick up a Bible, but maybe they’ll read a story or blog or novel you’ve written.

The Bible says in Psalms 37:4 (NIV) “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  My heart desires many things, and writing is one of those things. Can I write? Do I write? Yes! But am I delighting myself in the Lord?

I know that I know that I know that God loves me unconditionally. He has a plan and a purpose for me. In that alone, I should take great delight. The God of the universe, He who spoke the worlds into existence, cares about me. He knows my name.

I have to be reminded to commit my writing to Him. Are you committing this desire to God? I encourage you to pray God’s blessings over your writing.

Vacation! Do I Leave the Writing at Home?

Do writers write while on vacation? To write or not to write, that is the question! No, I’m not Shakespeare!  I’m Leola, and that was my question while on vacation this past week.

Vacation was lovely. We escaped the 110 plus temps in Phoenix for the lovely, cooler 90 plus temps in Stephenville, TX. Hm, did I mention Phoenix is a dry heat? And Stephenville’s humidity is as high as the temp? Yep, give me dry heat with air conditioning everywhere I go.  My hair was this creepy, damp, sticky mess for a week from that humidity. There’s got to be a secret that we dry heat people aren’t aware of for keeping curl in your hair.

Before leaving I printed out my WIP so I could proof/edit and got quite a lot done on the plane ride there and back. And those squiggly lines…that’s really not any secret code marks or anything like that. It was from those “bumps” you encounter while in the air. Ah, but lying in bed in that cozy, charming Bed and Breakfast in Stephenville, TX every night gave me ample time to read, proof and edit.

And airplanes? I’m still fascinated by how that huge, heavy metal monstrosity can stay in the air. I mean, seriously? And then on the flight home…let’s just say that the man next to me who slept the whole time sprawled way over into my space.  Way over! I flipped my manuscript open and managed to make corrections/notations despite his left leg practically being in my lap.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I found so much more red ink from proofing a hard copy than I did while reading it in the computer. Perhaps that is just me, though. The in-hand visional was easier for me. And truthfully, I wrote enough notes and comments on the margins of my manuscript to fill up a novella.  Just sayin’

So to answer my original question about writing while on vacation…I say go for it! There will be plenty of down time. If you don’t want to write, take a book or books and read. Study the author’s style of writing. It’s all about learning.

We should never stop learning!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Editing and Proofing Woes

I love to write, but I’m not fond of proofing or editing!

If anyone has ever successfully participated in Nanowrimo, you know that words just seem to flow non-stop, or hopefully they do. Nanowrimo is a site where you have the thirty days in the month of November to write a 50,000 word novel.  This is no easy task, I can assure you. If you have any kind of life apart from writing, interruptions happen.  It’s inevitable.

They say “just write a rough draft.”  Isn’t all writing a rough draft at first? Which brings me to the topic at hand: editing and/or proofing.  Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have a paid professional do this for you.  Not so with me, since I am a newbie and lack funds. I do have a couple of friends that are willing to help me with this, thank you Shelby Boswell and Barbra Finley. But alas,  the bulk of it falls to yours truly, me!

I’m currently involved in my WIP and have finished (it’s over 110,000 words).  At least  I think I’m finished! I have gone through twice already with proofing and editing.  Whew! Isn’t that enough?  Apparently not!

The first two run-throughs were done on the computer. I decided to print it out for a final proof/edit. All I can say is WOW! The things I’ve caught on a hard copy that I never noticed as I read it on the computer. Some pages contain more red ink than not.  Am I alone in this? Is it easier to catch things reading the hard copy?

So I plod and plow forth.  There are surely things I would rather be doing right now.  But then I think of the analogy of giving birth to children. Once those little darlings enter the world, our job is not over as a parent. It’s an ongoing process and takes work and diligence.

I’m definitely in need of more pencils, highlighters and red ink pens! I can’t throw the baby out with the bath water. (hm…does that even apply to  this?)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Writing Prompts

Sometimes when I’m given a writing prompt, immediately something comes to mind and I’m off and running…er.. I mean writing! Other times, I can sit and stare at it forever  (well, actually, hours or days) and draw a blank.

I belong to Faithwriters and love their weekly Writing Challenge.  I have learned so much from doing these little ditties every week. We’re given a topic and then have a week to write 150-750 words on this topic. Usually something comes to me within a day or two, occasionally an idea will formulate right away, and other times, it’ll be a day or two before submissions are due and I’m still clueless about what to write.

Usually I draw from the filing cabinets in my brain of Useless and Useful Information. Some of these are my own experiences, or something I’ve read, seen or been told by a third party.  Sometimes my writing comes out of nowhere. I mean…hello…where did this come from? I even astound myself as my fingers clack across keys pouring out words from a reservoir from whence I know not!

My friend and author, Jan Christiansen, has a book “Wake Up Your Muse” that has 1001 writing prompts. If you ever feel your writing juices clogged, I highly recommend this. It’s an easy read and out of 1001 choices, I’m sure you’ll find something to get your creativity flowing again.

I must admit that when I finally decided to become a writer, I found the whole thing a little daunting.  I always wanted to write, had a passion to write, and did write in the vein of clever and creative memos at work, letters to friends and family, posts on Facebook and My Space, and emails and what-not. But now, NOW, I was going to be devoted to writing, become a published author, because with this driving passion, the world must be yearning to hear from me.

Hm! Well, apparently not. So it has been a journey. I started at point A and haven’t arrived at point B yet.

But I press on!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Silencing the Voices

“Stop it! Go away! Leave me alone!”  It is my words, but silent, spoken in my mind to the voices that are calling to me. Their incessant clamoring for attention feeds my discouragement. Why can’t they ignore me like I try to ignore them?

I am in control, I tell myself. Without me they will cease to exist. With the touch of one button all evidence of their existence will be erased.  I have that power.

Sighing, I quietly fluff my pillow, turning it over so that the coolness of the other side brings momentary soothing to my frazzled nerves. Finally, I give in to the voices.  In the stillness of night, in my mind, I write new chapters, and rewrite old ones.  I examine scenes for flaws. I eliminate unnecessary people and embellish current ones.

And the characters of my novels are silenced for the moment. My mind relaxes and sleep overtakes me.

I wonder if I am alone, or do other writers experience the same thing. Then I scoff at calling myself a writer. That is what the discouragement does to me. I question whether this passionate drive to write was truly given by God.  If I answer yes, then I question why I go through these bouts of discouragement.

Disappointed, disillusioned, and discouraged, at my lowest point, when I was ready to give up, convinced I would never truly be a writer, God, my heavenly Father, spoke into my spirit, “Who are you? Are you who others say you are? Are you what you perceive yourself to be? Or are you who I say you are?”

It is enough! God has called me to write.  I am confident of that.  And so I sit, fingers poised over my laptop. It silences the voices of my characters that will not be ignored, these that I have given life to.  It is the only way to prevent them from insinuating themselves into that brief moment when sleep descends, causing my eyes to fly open and my brain to go into high gear with these lives I have created. I am too old and tired to have my sleep stolen away by them.

I cling to the truth that the power of encouragement lies within me through Him who dwells in my heart and soul. But it is also nice to receive encouragement from friends, family and even strangers, but first I must believe in myself.