_DSC0126For all the critter
lovers out there, I’m going to share—our beloved Springer Spaniel, Zeke, passed
away recently. He was ten years old. Here he is with my daughter, Lana, on her wedding day. Ah…in case you're wonderfing—no Zeke didn't come to the church.

Or maybe you're wondering—how is
the news that my dog passed away supposed to encourage? We live in a world that is full of
tough things, sadness, illness, bombings in Boston for goodness sake! Shootings
in schools. Scary stuff.

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“Did you want a four or a seven-day Caribbean cruise?” the travel agent asked.

What a choice. Even one day on that luxurious cruise ship is enough to make me salivate with excitement.

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Hi, Sherry Kyle here, writing from central California.


Sherry Kyle author photoI usually blog for CAN on the third Monday of the month, but
this one got away from me. I’ve been filling out interviews and guests posts to
help launch The Heart Stone, my April
1st release. It’s been a whirlwind of activity. I know you can
relate.

Writing can take over our lives. Besides writing the next
manuscript, we’re asked to blog, network, speak, head committees, judge
contests, critique, and market. Phew! If we don’t pace ourselves, we’ll burn
out.

How can we have a fulfilling, productive writing life that
does not take over?

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Hello! Maureen Pratt here for my monthly CAN blog contribution. I’ve just returned from the dentist, so am even-more-than-usually delighted to be here (she writes, grinning with those newly repaired pearly whites)!

To be completely honest, although not exactly fun, my unexpected detour to drill-land has inspired my topic this month: Drastic measures for drastic situations. That is, what do you do when every trick, technique, and type font has been exhausted and you’re still not happy with what you see pouring forth on the page? Do you abandon the project (not easy, if you’re on contract and deadline)? Do you put the project aside and work on something else, praying that the subconscious will percolate behind the scenes? Or, do you do something else?

How does this relate to a trip to the dentist? Well, today, I went in to see what could be done about small chips in my front teeth, the result of years of major medications to treat all of my many chronic illnesses, as well as Sjogren’s Syndrome, which causes extreme dry mouth, among other things. Instead of getting right to work, my wonderful dentist enumerated the possible fixes. One was benign (“let it be”), one was a moderate repair that could last for quite awhile. The third option was the most extreme.

“It’s really very extreme,” she said. “And I don’t think this situation is that extreme.”

Praise God! And, bring on option # 2!

As she worked away on my tooth, I began to work away on my (this) blog. I’ve written before about things that might be helpful when characters run amok. But this time, I thought about the times when I’ve seemingly “hit the wall” on my work-in-progress. Setting, characters, underlying tone – sometimes these have gone awry to the point where the road ahead seems blocked with a huge “do not pass” sign. (Not to be confused with ‘writer’s block,’ this is a time when words are pouring forth, but just not for the same story as the one you’re supposed to be writing.)

At such times, I’ve turned to prayer, specific prayer for the specific writing situation: “Lord, is this project right for me, at least for now?” or “Lord, please show me the way, or at least please update my GPS!”

Next, I’ve gone back to my original premise, characters, outline, or inspiration and held these up to where I am with the project. It can be painstaking, but very useful to force yourself to look at everything you’ve written from those early kernels through the prism of the start. Is everything tying back to the beginning? If not, what needs to change, go, or remain?

Another thing to do is exercise. No, not writing exercises. I mean walking, running, playing tennis, golfing, aerobics – something physical that forces the brain to use different “muscles.” Instead of hand on keyboard or pen, put hand on basketball, or, if you’re not athletically inclined, vacuum cleaner or mixing bowl, which can be athletic endeavors, too. Exercise always helps clear my head, give me a fresh outlook and my subconscious time to regroup.

Talk to people you’ve already interviewed (if this is a non-fiction work) or to people who know nothing about your subject. Try to explain what you’re trying to do. See what questions they have and gauge what you have or have not put into your work thus far (this is always helpful). If you’re writing fiction, talk to your characters. Okay, this is a tick farther up on the drastic scale, but I actually find it very illuminating. Take your characters to the store, to a historic site, or just sit at your kitchen table and chat. Don’t mind if others look at you and shake their heads; it is a blessing and an honor to be gifted with storytelling, and sometimes the creative process just seems odd to others, but not to us!

The most drastic thing that I have done, only reserved for absolutely drastic situations, is to completely and utterly erase everything I’ve already written. Yup, the proverbial “computer crash.” I discovered this tool when my computer really did crash once years ago. Could not find the backup, let alone past versions of my work-in-progress, which was, at the time, under contract. After my initial shock, I had no alternative but to rewrite everything. It was a drastic situation, alright, and a drastic measure to have to rewrite the piece. But it actually turned out much better than it had been going along initially. And so, on those rare occasions when I need to do something drastic with my current writing project, I recall and sometimes employ this “measure of last resort,” as hard as it is to press delete and empty the recycle bin!

“Back in the day,” trips to the dentist were much more onerous than they are now (usually). Today’s visit turned out to be minor on the scale of discomfort, and all’s well, thanks to dentistry’s new tools of the trade. “Back in the day” of typewriters or writing longhand, it wasn’t possible to “lose it all,” unless you had a voracious dog or dared take your pages through the shredder (but even then, it probably wasn’t a cross-cut, and you could tape it all back together). Today, however, sometimes the dreaded “crash” is actually a blessing in disguise – a way to start completely afresh while retaining what’s most important from the good work you’ve done already.

Blessings for the day!

Maureen

www.maureenpratt.com

http://blog.beliefnet.com/gooddaysbaddays/

 

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Christine Lindsay Author picOh look at me. You…whooooo, look at me!!!  I’m over here. I’m the one waving a banner
over my own head. I’m the one shoving my picture in your face.

Do you ever get just plain sick of doing this?

As writers it is so necessary to market. We know it’s part of being a
good steward of our ministry. And we’d all much rather be writing our inspirational
books to encourage readers in their faith, than having to infiltrate the market
through Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

But we have to do it, no matter how against the grain it rubs.

This discomfort gets increasingly worse when we have a new release. And
it seems we need to push forward our front cover pictures, author pics, book
trailers, whatever.

I become increasingly embarrassed with each successive shove of my stuff
forward, and I start to withdraw inwardly.

That inward withdrawal has become a place of rest, because the only
place I can find comfort from the chafing of marketing is in sitting quietly
with the Lord.

I like to think of walking up the mountain with the Lord Jesus after He’s
had a busy day speaking to the multitudes. Mind you, He didn’t shove His face
forward like I have to do. He always directed His followers to worship God the
Father.

Still though, I like to walk up the mountain with Him, and sit down. Say
nothing for a while, just rest in the fact that He has promised to never leave
me. Let the high-up fresh air blow through my hair. Whisk away the strain of
publicity and marketing.

And just be with Him.

“Be still and know that I am God,” He says.

Then I can talk to Him, and tell Him how I really feel. That I do get a
rush of adrenaline when I see my face out there, when I see my book cover out
there. That after my speaking engagements are over, and people come forward to
chat or have me autograph a book for them, I do get a rush of . . . of what?

Oh dear Lord, is it pride?

Please let it not be so.

Surely it’s just adrenaline? Surely, it’s just the joy of knowing that the
speaking part is over and You did an amazing job of encouraging the listeners,
the readers.

But part of me sighs deep down. I think there is a stain of pride. There
is something inside me that did enjoy that few minutes of fame. That I liked
it.

And that is when I must look my Lord Jesus in the face, and say, “I’m
sorry. How utterly silly of me. Let me just look at You for a while, and listen
to You, and let You cleanse my foolish soul.”

 

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