Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

I didn't do a Sunday Snapshot yesterday because I hadn't written anything and I wanted to make myself write something other than story threads.  But... I did all my writing on the internet this weekend.

I decided to stop feeling so bad about that. It's writing. It may not be publishable, but it keeps the old juices flowing. So this is the last thing I wrote.  How about you? Post in the comments.

It doesn't have to perfect. It doesn't even have to be good. It just has to be yours!

Ginger said...

(waits at the glass wall, looking outside at the whirling snow. bent figures hurry from the parking lot towards the building for the next exam period.

her vision seems to shift and she sees what she saw last night, only somewhat clearer: black trails like snakes or curls of smoke following people on the ground.

yet her magic rises against no unusual or particular threat. the people seem to suffer nothing worse than the usual stress of finals. she can perceive something else as well: something brighter than the snow, darting quickly down and attacking the snakes. it reminds her of the flashes of light from the gryphons in Belhanor. the snakes die or coil to strike back and they both disappear. she isn't sure who won.

the whole shifting three-in-one world of light and darkness and people blends together and blows in the door with a gust of cold wind as someone opens it. she realizes this is happening all the time. she's just never noticed it before.

snowflakes spatter her face and she flinches as if it were shrapnel.

when she opens her eyes again the vision is gone.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Off the Path

My dear friend and writing partner, Betsy Dornbusch, has a post up at her blog on finding your own path. Now, if you know me at all you may be a little surprised when you read her post that we are friends... but we are. It is a testimony to the depth and richness of the creative life that not only do we write together, we write together really well! At least, I think so.

Anyway, her post made me think about just how far off track I've gotten lately. As I said in my comment on her blog,

"I am so far off my own path right now I might as well be in China. I don't even know myself any more, and I don't know if it's my poor work/sleep habits, the meds I'm on, or my complete lack of religious life lately. But I gotta find me again somehow."

To show how sidetracked I've gotten, I searched through my archives for this little tidbit I wrote back in 2006, when I was just starting to write again after a decade-long haitus. My son was little and I was struggling to stay on top of things as a SAHM and Mothers of Preschoolers group leader. I was very close to the Lord, which was one of the blessings that comes with being in ministry and not having to work outside the home.

Here is the piece. I want to find this Christine again. Not that I want to be in the same place I was then, but I want my heart to be in the same state of tender obedience.


Stand and Wait

In Greek mythology there is a character named Sisyphus who was punished by the gods.  His punishment was to spend eternity pushing a boulder up a mountain each day, only to have it roll back down again at night.

I can’t help wondering what Sisyphus would rather have been doing with his time and energy.  Perhaps he was a composer, making symphonies in his head that he never could write down.  Or a statesman musing on the problems of Greek society, unable to tell anyone his ideas.  Perhaps he was a philosopher like Socrates, or a poet like Homer.  We’ll never know.

I’ve been identifying a lot with Sisyphus lately.  It seems that this task of being a stay-at-home mom is a boulder I’m pushing day after day, with no time to do anything for myself.  I feel as if my God-given talents are being wasted; that my creative energies are being sacrificed.  Although I know that being a Christian wife and mother is one the greatest things I can do for the Kingdom of God, it feels as if I’m not really doing anything substantial for Him.

There are people who say “Well, if you want to do something, then you just have to make the time to do it.  If you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way.”  That’s a fine sentiment, but the ugly truth is that there are only so many hours in the day and I only have so much energy.  If I focus my efforts on something creative, then something else always suffers, and I end up doing damage control with my family or a big push to catch up on my chores.  I know I can’t do it all.

Nevertheless, I am inspired when I recall the words of the great poet, John Milton.  At the end of his life he became blind, and could no longer write down his own poems but had to dictate them to aides.  One of them, titled “On His Blindness” includes the line “They also serve who only stand and wait.”  He was talking about serving God by waiting upon Him, the way a servant does, standing at attention, willing and obedient, until called upon.


Let me just close by adding that whenever I pray about this curse of a creative mind, asking God why he burdened me with it, the Holy Spirit reminds me again that my time is coming. "Just wait."

I have some really good content at my old blog, Christine's Cottage. I may post some "best of" content in the future. There's a lot on there about this book I'm *still* writing.

Is Your Smartphone Making You Look Dumb?

We’ve all seen those really cool commercials where smiling, well-dressed people are using fancy phones while images and words fly into the air above their heads, enhancing the world around them for themselves and all their smiling, well-dressed friends.

But have you ever stopped to think how dumb you actually look standing on a street corner or sitting in your car, ignoring the world around you, with your thumb sliding over your phone?

I got my first smartphone a couple of months ago and instantly succumbed to the crack addiction of my shiny, personalized, electronic little world. I get a physical twitch if I get up to go somewhere and it isn’t in my hand. I love the smoothness of it, the weight of it, the gliding feeling of the screen under my finger.

I do hate the cramping in my fingers from Swyping, and don’t even get me started on the frustrations of trying to use apps – some of which work and some of which don’t – or reading web pages that aren’t mobile enabled. But overall, I’m hooked.

My husband and mother, however, are fed up. They tell me I am acting just like a teenager and they feel it is incredibly rude for me to be constantly checking the thing anywhere we go. I’ve tried to explain that this is What People Do Now, but they don’t get it. They think It’s Rude.

They have a point. I’m trying to cut back on my mobile usage, even to the point of locking the thing where I can’t get at it. I do notice how totally DUMB people with smartphones look when they stand in some public place, head bent to that little electronic rectangle, oblivious to the world passing by.

If we really could see the images and words flicking over their heads it might be a lot cooler. But then, maybe we don’t want to know. There is enough media clutter in our lives already.

Which brings me to my main point: Smartphones have brought overstimulation to a new level. I definitely notice that my brain cannot “wind down” the way it used to. I wake up in the morning to a jolt of regurgitated information from the day before, followed by a wash of guilt for all the things I didn’t do because I was online.

As informed about and connected to others in my field of interest as I think I am now, I am also feeling a strong need need to force myself to unplug and try to find the person I was back when I used my phone to call the people I love and talk to them.

I don’t even recall who she is any more.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Writing Exercise: First thing in the Morning

Here is a little writing exercise to start your day:

Hop on over to "Come in Character" and describe what one of your characters experiences when they wake up. 

First Thing in the Morning

Heck, don't just do one character, do as many as you want!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Structure, Smucture

Tonight I am talking about story structure at my writer's group. The thought that I am giving anyone instruction on writing is a wee bit frightening.

But it is also more than a wee bit sobering. I have been reminded by the preparation for my lesson that the real reason I haven't sent my novel out isn't the writing, it's the plot. I do have a great story. The plot, not so much. It really needs to be pulled apart and put back together again in a very different shape. There are multiple bad spots.

Like I'm putting the characters somewhere, or preventing them from going there, just for my convenience. But it feels fake and I know it is and they know it is and we're all looking at each other going, "This isn't going to work."

They're stomping for their trailers. "Let us know when you've got it worked out."

Truth be told, I'm tired of working on it, but this is the only project I've had for so long, I really don't know what to do with myself. I had another idea thrown out to me that I love, a collaboration, but that person is too busy right now to get started. So I'm going to have to come up with something all by my lonesome.

Sigh. I'm not an idea person. I don't walk around looking at the world as a thousand potential stories. But if you give me a story, I can come up with a thousand potential angles.

How do you come up with stories? And what do you do when you feel burned out on one?

Or does that never happen?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Controlling the Magic

I've really been struggling with this gift / curse of a creative mind. I once said to my husband, "I wonder what it would be like to live in only one world at a time."

His reply was, "Well, you'll never know."

At least he's getting it. Dear man!

In my current project, I'm exploring the concept of magic as something that rises innately within the characters and which they struggle to control. Not a novel idea, I know, but new to me.

Anyway, a funny thought occurred to me as I was musing last night over this puzzle of how to function in the workaday world as a creative soul: What if I think of writing as magic?

What if when I feel that urge, I think of suppressing it as the same kind of skill my characters must learn, and releasing it when called upon, another skill? A whimisical thought, but I'm grasping at anything these days.

What have you, dear fellow bloggers, done to control the muse during your non-writing hours? Please... tell me.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A quick, silver cut
Kills hope
Quickening the tide of grief
For story's leaving

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Yeah, so, not so much progress on the editing front. I need to edit something like 4,500 words a day to be done by the end of the month. hahahahahahaha  *gasp* hahahahahaha

But we had a great weekend in North Carolina, looking at possible property to purchase for a future home after my husband retires. Decisions, decisions. How'd you like to wake up in the morning and have this be the view from your bedroom window?

Or how about this one?

Or, we could get a less expensive, wooded lot and just walk up the road a short piece to enjoy the view.

But which to choose?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

It's time for a Sunday Snapshot! I haven't done one of these in ages.

Post an excerpt (100 words or less) of the last thing you wrote. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't even have to be good... it just has to be yours! Here's mine:

“Car accident. If anyone asks, I was in a car accident.” 

Crystal fumbled with her keys at the back door of her Sea Island, New Jersey, cottage.  She dropped them with a clatter on the wooden deck and reached down to pick them up again. Nervous sparks arced between her fingers.  

 “And staticky.”