Saturday, April 29, 2006

Blessings are to be enjoyed

As I knew it would, the block broke Wednesday afternoon and I finished the first scene (and first half) of Chapter 23 Friday morning. Then I had to fall back and reorganize. I've been forging ahead chapter after chapter without keeping official track of what I've done, and I was starting to get hazy about it all. So I went back and pulled it all together into an outline of what has gone before. Today I started Chapter 20, which has a different viewpoint character and plot thread than the scenes I've been writing recently. I spent most of the day brainstorming, outlining and simmering.

I've also been doing a lot of thinking about the Christy nomination, which every year throws me into a turmoil. In the past I've maintained that none of it matters. But this year I'm rethinking that conclusion. It is a blessing from the Lord -- that, for sure. The problem is, I've never really been able to enjoy it for what it actually is -- that a group of people chose my book and two others from a pool of at least ten entries as examples of superior work. And the reason I've not, I see now, is because I've been too busy applying the concepts I'd need to apply if it didn't actually win. This doesn't make a lot of sense written down like this. In the attempt to shield myself from the "devastation" of the possible future event of the book not winning the award (thus proving me a total failure as a writer), I prevented myself from enjoying the present reality of it being nominated.

As I contemplate the whole thing now, I realize how ridiculous it is. Not winning would not mean I am a total failure, and "devastation" is a grotesque exaggeration. I would be disappointed. The "You can't write" harpies might pay me a visit for a couple of days afterward, but eventually I'd chase them away. Beyond that, what else is going to happen? In the end I'll still write. People will still read my books. Bethany House will continue to publish the books they've contracted me for... How did it swell into such a big deal in the back rooms of my mind?

I have no idea. The old nature's arrogance mixed with the world's lies. Could this be an example of the insanity Eccl 9:3 says dwells in the hearts of the sons of men throughout their lives? Probably. In any case, I'm ready, finally, to embrace what the Lord's given me. To enjoy it for what it is, give thanks to Him for it, and...

Stay out of the future!

Pressing On

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Great News!

Just got off the phone with my editor who informed me that the 2006 slate of Christy finalists has been released and Shadow Over Kiriath is among them. Yippee! I am honored and very pleased. It was not an easy book to write and I felt that I took a risk with the way I ended it, so this is nice.

Other finalists in the visionary category are Legend of the Emerald Rose by Linda Wichman, and The Presence by Bill Myers. Congratulations to both of them and to all the others who were nominated. You can check out the full slate at the Christy Awards site here

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lost and stuck

I've hit a wall today early on in ch 23 and am solidly stuck. Unable to focus, I've bounced from distraction to distraction all morning, only to find when I come back to the work and force myself to nonstop about the world and what happens next, I just end up with contradictions. I have no idea how to break through them. No idea what to do. Nonstopping has become the equivalent of a literary chasing of my tail (tale?). Which way to go? How do I resolve the questions and objections? I have no idea. No thoughts.

Fortunately, Abramm is in the same predicament, so at least I can relate. And I know eventually it will break because I know the Lord is guiding me. I can't feel or see it right now, but I know it because He's promised to do it, so I'll just have to wait for whatever He's doing to emerge.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Glory Hunting

Yesterday was a disaster. First the dog refused to eat and I spent 45 minutes trying to come up with the most appetizing concoction to persuade him. (It’s a part of the chronic kidney disease that makes him not want to eat, even as it’s imperative that he do so.) Then there were glitches with the newsletter – my test version was not received by my hotmail account. Or rather, it was received, according to the newsletter people, it just didn’t show up anywhere. (Neither did the official newsletter for that matter, so if you have a hotmail account and are subscribed to my newsletter but did not receive one today/last night, I’d like to know about it.) I spent a couple of hours trying to work that out, without success. (At least the dog finally ate.)

After that I read some blogs that got me out of sorts, and then an interview of a writer in an unsolicited ezine I received that sent me off to read Amazon reviews informing me I didn’t really know how to write. In the process, I discovered this dreadful new feature Amazon has added to one’s book pages. Now you can see what percentage of people who visited your page bought your books and what percentage bought someone else’s books. This is not a statistic I have any interest in knowing, one way or the other, but especially when it is not in my favor. As it was not yesterday.

Since I have already wasted far too much time and given myself far too many stomachaches comparing sales rankings and numbers of reviews (the warning in 2 Corinthians against comparing notwithstanding) I long ago made it a rule not to visit the pages of other writers, especially those who write in the same genre. I know my old nature well enough to know that no matter what those numbers say, the results will not pretty, and writing momentum will be lost while I round up the flood of rebel thoughts that have been set loose. With this new feature in place, I'm thinking I'm going to have to avoid Amazon altogether -- even my own pages.

As I was contemplating all this, though, my thoughts were turned to the incident at the end of David’s life described in both 1 Samuel and 1 Chronicles where Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel's army. Joab protested, pointing out they were all David’s servants so why did he need to know how many? It’s a puzzling passage to me, but I think the meaning is that we’re not supposed to be sitting around tallying up blessings, because it only leads to arrogance and comparisons... “Look how many fighting men I have in MY kingdom! Way more than all my neighbors!” Or its opposite, “Oh woe is me. I hardly have any soldiers. Compared to so and so, mine is a tiny, pathetic, weak little kingdom.” Since it was fighting men Joab was sent out to count, this seems to indicate David is either measuring his kingdom’s strength and security or contemplating his own glory. Whoever has the biggest, strongest army will be the one assured of living in peace and security, as well as being the one regarded as most glorious. (Counting and comparing reviews and sales rankings -- if good -- has somewhat the same effect)

But we are not to gain our security from numbers, or any other external things. We gain it from the Lord. And the Lord doesn’t need numbers. Of all people, David knew that, since he’d started his career as one man facing a giant that had intimidated the entire army of Israel. And come to think of it, it can't be a coincidence that this little numbering incident comes in the wake of the final war against the descendents of that Philistine giant when David’s army finally defeated them for good. So maybe it was just sheer arrogance on David’s part, wanting to know how many great and mighty warriors served him... whatever it was, the Lord was not happy with him, and when He made that clear, David admitted it: “I have sinned greatly, in that I have done this thing... Is it not I who commanded to count the people? Indeed, I am the one who has sinned and done very wickedly...” Not just "sinned" but "sinned greatly" and "done very wickedly."

Which reinforces my conclusions as to the error of counting and monitoring the numbers of reviews, fan letters, sales rankings etc. I’m called to serve the Lord, not man. He’s the one who’s given me this gift and the time and ability to use it. If He wants to give me no reviews and no letters and not so great sales rankings, is that not His right? And since He has only my best interests in mind at all times, would that not be for my benefit? He doesn't need good numbers to keep my books published even. And if they're not published, so what? He can still use whatever I do -- or what He does through me -- it just may not be in accordance with what I or the world think is the way He's supposed to use it. But if I am truly doing it as unto Him, out of obedience and love for Him – and for the pleasure that comes from simply working in the gift – why would I not be willing to proceed regardless of what He does or does not do with it, and especially regardless of whatever the world says about it?

Proverbs 25:27 It is not good to eat much honey. Nor is it glory to search out one’s own glory.

It's always grace,

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Remember the Great Horned owl we found sitting on its nest in a Eucalyptus tree back in February? ("Owl in a Tree") Well, the eggs have hatched and the owlets have emerged! From the size of them, I'd say they hatched some time ago. There are actually three of them in this picture, but you can only see the faces of two.

The amazing thing about this nest is that the tree is right beside the lane where the schoolbuses at a local high school unload. The nest itself is in a crook of that tree about 8 or nine feet from the ground. When we arrived today to take their pictures another group of photographers was already there. The owlets watched us all with interest for awhile, then the one on the left dozed off. No fear there. We don't know where their mama was. Probably searching for lunch.

How very cool!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

More from Friday's Nonstop

After the nonstop I excerpted yesterday, I went off to find photographs of the desert because I didn't like the one on my bulletin board. When I came back to the subject at hand... here is what I wrote next:

"So. I came back to it, began to pursue details again – 80,000 slaves on the Darb el Arbain (the 40 Days Road in the Sahara), caravans, where are my characters going? -- and my brain snarled. It feels like I’ve just gone through too much -- too many options, too much shifting -- and I lose all track of where I am, what I’ve decided, even if I have decided. I just keep piling up options and questions. The more I work the more they pile, and then the whole mass is way too complex. I can’t hold it all in my head.

"It’s like this. If there are only 20 slaves, then that would determine where and how they camp. If there are a thousand, things are going to be much different. If they are going through the dunes, that will determine how they stop for the night, where and how they rest, or if they even rest at all. If there are no dunes, but steep sided wadis instead, with shade and hard-packed gravely surfaces...well that destroys my whole idea for the moving road. I like the thing with the moving road.

"And now it's gotten too big for my head again. I can't think of it all any more and my train of thought collapses. So. What do I do? I’m getting the notion that I need to make a temporary outline or scaffolding, just so I can work on something. I can’t deal with it all at once.
That being the case... I have these areas that I know for sure I want to do... Of these four I see now that the moving road is the most important. Which means there have to be dunes..."

From that point I was able to carry on, asking questions and getting solid answers that enabled me to stop wrestling with endless maybes and how abouts and flesh out something fairly solid in terms of a scene. Hence the 8 pages I mentioned in yesterday's post.

And today, after 2 1/2 hours of writing one word after the other, one sentence after the other, I am pleased to say I've exceeded by two my goal of 7 pages and in so doing have finished Chapter 22!


Friday, April 21, 2006

Excerpt from Today's Nonstop

photo of the Gobi Desert by ramarary

I usually do a nonstop every day when I am writing. This is where I set the timer for 10 or 20 minutes, then write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes I just let myself go, sometimes I try to steer my thinking toward the issue at hand. Here is a portion of one I wrote today:

"So what do I do now? Do I just lie down and let my mind wander? Go stretch? Look at pictures? Read through the stuff I wrote yesterday? That’s not a bad idea. Just waiting. Filling the well and waiting. Maybe spend some just sitting and looking out the window, then spend some time looking over my notes and research material. Or maybe I could just go back to the opening (of ch 22) and describe things. Hmm... When I think about doing that there is resistance. I used to pay that feeling heed. Not so sure I should now.

"Maybe I should just have at it. Decide to write something. Anything. Sit here, as Anne Lamott recommends and close my eyes, breathing slowly and quietly and let my mind wander. then stare into space or out my window and let the images come. Just a small, one-inch image. Describe that. one sentence. Then another sentence, with no real concern for what it’s doing. I rather like that idea right now. So I could go back to what I’ve started in chapter 22 and do that.

"But I kind of don’t want to go over the all the notes and research again. Because it’s not that I’m going to take that material and put it down necessarily. It's only grist for the mill, ingredients for the cake. Not all of it will go in, not all of it will be part... and it's already there in my head. I read about it yesterday and there are things that do stand out. Those are what my talent and the Spirit will grab onto and bring to mind. I don't really need to "know" it all. I think maybe it’s like Paul said about speaking to the council -- that he didn't need to know what he was going to say because the Spirit would provide the words. In this case, don’t worry, don’t try to take too much control. Just go and start writing and trust the Spirit to provide the words and images you need. And be patient. Wait for Him to work in His time, not yours."

In the end I wrote 8 pages of first draft -- ch 22.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Reflections on Soaring

When the eagle soars, he doesn’t have to work. The shape of his wings and his momentum are what provide the lift along with the rising air currents. All he has to do is extend his wings and float, so of course he’s not going to get tired. He’s just lying there...Resting. Waiting. Letting other forces carry him along.

We like to flap our wings. It feels good and strong to flap flap flap and suddenly, wow! you gain a bit of speed and lift and you’re flying. Only to fall back to earth panting, dazed and exhausted. But oh, that bit when you were in the air – stimulating in the extreme. Flapping comes naturally to us.

By contrast the eagle most often begins his flight by jumping off a cliff. The very last thing we want to do! Jumping off cliffs does not come at all naturally.

The analogy continues as you consider that the shape of the eagle's wings is the way God made him to be, tools he’s been given that he had no say over and did not make. For us, that would be all the things God has given us at salvation in the spiritual realm, including the filling of the Spirit -- and the means of regaining it when we sin -- and His word. The eagle’s momentum comes from flying – from jumping off the cliff and gliding away. After he has glided a bit, he flaps his wings to gain more altitude so he can float some more. For us, flying would be learning the doctrine (flapping – because it does take effort to learn), believing it, then applying it to the circumstances of our lives. Which leads to rest. So... flapping is learning and applying the word to our lives, while floating is the result of that application.

An hour a day listening to/reading the teaching of your pastor. 23 hours resting in what you've learned. No wonder the soaring eagle doesn't get tired.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Boston Marathon 06

Well, we're back from our trip to Boston, MA, where my husband ran in the 11oth Boston Marathon. We left on Saturday and flew into Providence, RI, so we could attend Resurrection Sunday services at Grace Bible Church in Somerset. It was a wonderful experience to see the new chapel and all the work they've done, to reconnect with dear friends and to share the special celebration service live and in person. Plus I was completely blown away when the Pastor not only singled us out as having come all the way from Arizona, but then he mentioned my books as well!

Afterward we raced off to Boston to attend the expo, pick up my husband's race packet and attend the Pre-race pasta dinner with a gazillion other people at City Hall. On Marathon Monday, after a buffet breakfast at the hotel, my son and I set off on foot to explore Boston Common, Beacon Street and the Public Gardens, then headed over to Boylston Street where the race was set to end. Since hubby was not to arrive until 3:10pm at the earliest we made our way leisurely along the route, checked out the subway, then watched the start of the wheelchair racers and elite women on the big screen TV. (Boston Common photo by tostie14)

At that point my son discovered the hub on the Prudential building (the taller of the two in the photo at the left) and we took an elevator up 50 floors (!) to to get a bird's eye view of Boston. That and the plane ride both reinforced the things I was thinking about with respect to the soaring eagle. You see so much more how everything fits together from way up there. It was phenomenal. From there we figured out where the race course was and watched the first wheelchair racer come down Commonwealth Avenue, speed up to Boylston, then down to the finish line. (Skyscraper photo by tostie14)

The view also gave us a good idea where we wanted to be to cheer my husband, so we went down the 50 floors and made our way out to about the 25 mile mark on Commonwealth Avenue where we got a railside position to watch and clap and yell. After he passed us, it took us half an hour to get back through the crowds to the end where he was to meet us in the Family Meeting area. A dinner of clam chowder and sour dough bread, followed by a ride in a horse-drawn carriage with the temps in the 40s and the wind on the rise (research!) brought us back to our hotel. There we completed an incredible day by watching one of our favorite shows, 24. (cheering marathon crowd photo by cocolinda)

Tuesday we flew back to Tucson, and between the time change, the events of Monday and the nonstop action we were exhausted. I'm still feeling the effects today and made very little progress, but at least I've started thinking about chapter 22.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Resurrection Sunday

Don't know if this will work, but I wanted to try it. Click on the link below for my Resurrection Sunday greeting...

Friday, April 14, 2006

A crazy week

We're gearing up for another trip. And so of course the dog has begun to have problems. Bear is our 11-going-on-12 year old Redbone Coonhound and my writing buddy. He's lying beside me as I type this, in fact. My getting published has been very hard on the guy. Until then he was a strong, quick, healthy athletic dog. The soundest dog we've ever had. But for four years now, every time I have a deadline, or get ready to take any kind of trip, suddenly he is beset with some new and mysterious ailment. These include several different bouts of tick fever, never officially diagnosed but always resolved by the treatment for tick fever, hot spots, allergic rash all over his ears which showed up when we were away from home, an aural hematoma, vestibular something or other -- an inner ear malfunction that upsets balance -- and chronic kidney failure, which started last summer and is ongoing.

Last weekend he developed a minor problem with incontinence owing to his age and some of the problems of kidney failure, and the standard medication for that ailment was prescribed. Two days later he started to have increasing tremors. Since he lies beside me while I'm working and tends to follow me around through the house he was always right there where I could see the tremors. He staggered and wobbled when he walked, or suddenly got up, only to stand there staring at the floor, twitching and trembling.

I'm the kind of person that can't stand not knowing what is going on (probably why the Lord puts me in so many situations where not only do I not know but I can't seem to find out) and so I went to the Internet, searching for side effects to the drug, and for information on tremors. Nothing to indicate the problem should be from the drug, so the next day I gave him another pill... and he seemed to get worse. Long story short, it was the medication. We took him off it and he's getting better. Still not hundred per cent but way better than two days ago.

You probably think with all that, I didn't get much work done this week, but I am a little amazed to report that I actually finished chapters 19 and 21 (I'll go back to do 20 once I'm done with 22). Given the level of distraction, I'm not sure how that happened. Grace of God, of course. Sometimes it's more obvious than others.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Soaring Eagle

National Wildlife Federation Christmas card
Sacred Heights by Daniel Smith

I was thinking about soaring eagles and prairie chickens the other day and recalled this card we received last Christmas. I dug it out of my pile of papers and was struck by how relevant it suddenly seemed to me. The fact that the eagle is ALONE is a big one. As is the fact that when he is soaring, he's not really doing anything, just resting on the wind currents. His perspective is high and far. And even though there are storm clouds all around, there is light bursting through them. Beautiful picture of our life with God.

He soars above it all, and below him, far, far out of sight are the prairie chickens -- flocking and squawking and chattering. Fluttering, clucking, scratching in the dirt, huddling together, going after bugs and seeds. They find safety in numbers (you only have to fly faster than one other prairie chicken to escape the predator!). Where one goes they all go, often without thought. It's a horizontal existence and a horizontal perspective.

But the eagle lives in the heights. He lives with the higher, bigger, broader perspective. And he is at peace. Ironically, the title of the card is "Peace on earth" and after reading that, it hit me that the only way one can have true peace while on earth is to be a soaring eagle.

Is 40:31 Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary.

Here's to soaring as we wait for the Lord,

Monday, April 10, 2006

Prairie Chickens

Prairie Chicken photos by Teo

Ever heard the story of the eagle’s egg that was placed in the nest of a prairie chicken? When the eaglet hatched, he was raised as a prairie chicken. Instead of soaring in the heights as he was meant to do, he lived like a prairie chicken with the other prairie chickens -- tied to the ground. Prairie chickens live in flocks, and they cannot fly very high or very far. Whenever they do fly, it is with great effort of running and flapping their wings. They scratch in the dirt after seeds and bugs, and they do whatever the other prairie chickens do.

The eaglet grew up and learned to scratch in the dirt for seeds and bugs. He never flew very far and whenever he did, it was with great effort and flapping of his wings. He only did what the other prairie chickens did.

One day he chanced to look up and saw something flying high in the sky. “What is that?” he asked of his prairie chicken companion.

“That is a soaring eagle,” said the prairie chicken. “But don’t get any ideas. You could never be like that – you’re just a prairie chicken like the rest of us. Your wings aren’t broad enough or strong enough to soar like that. Besides, you don’t want to be up there all alone… Oh! Look! There on the ground! It’s a little black beetle!”

And the prairie chicken ran as fast as his stubby legs and flapping wings could carry him, clucking and squawking as he pecked the beetle out of the dirt.

It’s an analogy of course, a picture of the world and of the people in the world whose concerns are horizontal, earthly, temporary. They can fly, perhaps, but not very high, and not very far and it takes a great amount of energy. Once we become believers, though, we no longer have to live like prairie chickens – we can live like soaring eagles. But first we have to know there is a difference. Second we have to know what we were meant to be. And third… we have to learn how to soar.

I Jn 2:15 Do not love the world, nor the things of the world.

Grace and peace,

Friday, April 07, 2006

Writing is hard

The following is something I took from the book Overcoming Writing Blocks by Karin Mack & Eric Skjei (It was published in 1979 by JPTarcher, Inc., and you can get it used from Amazon here). I think I've probably used this one book more than any other during all the time I've been writing. I adapted these passages to fit my situation because it pretty well describes what writing is like for me and is another reminder of why I want to check email!

"You take some notes, make a list or two, then, if you’re not too blocked, you launch into spinning out a sequence of story events. But no sooner do you have an event or two in line, than you begin to see that your first considerations weren’t quite on target. This isn’t quite the way you wanted it to be. It’s not going to work because you see some other considerations that will alter it. Suddenly you are in the middle of the quest for the best possible events and ordering of those events. Or you look ahead and see a new line of conflict appearing that could reshape the story in a better way. You see how each added event, or character, or motivation, or world situation, like a stone tossed into a still pool, sends out ripple after ripple, each merging with and altering the others.

"Precious story patterns shift, disintegrate, then reform into something quite new and different, but still composed of the same basic elements. So you realign your thinking, and your writing, and you start over. (Or, if the critical feeling gets too strong, and you begin to feel that what’s coming together in a storyline isn’t quite right enough or good enough, you falter and stop dead in your tracks.) The chase can be exhilarating or stupefying, but it’s never easy.

"Zigzagging like this from creation to criticism and back again is often extremely frustrating, especially if you magnify it by feeling guilty about not being able to put together a story line in a short order of time. Those who aren’t used to the process (and even those who are) often find themselves terribly beaten down by the feeling that they’re wandering aimlessly around, getting nowhere. A deceptively small internal voice . . . keeps wondering why you seem so ambivalent and indecisive. “Don’t you know what you think?” it whispers. “C’mon, just get it out. Stop being so indecisive! Maybe you can’t do this after all. The other two worked, but this is just too complicated, too complex. You’ve bitten off way more than you can chew!”

"This experience of constantly discovering new possibilities, alternate ways to proceed, fresh ways to restructure and recast what you’ve devised, rich as it may sound, can induce confusion, fear, and eventually, blocking of the writer’s decision-making faculties. This is especially true because there’s never enough time to thoroughly explore all the possible permutations of the work. Deadlines are nipping at the writer’s heels. She can’t afford to indulge in endless speculation and experimentation. Decisions must be made, and they must be made now. So there can arise a paralyzing conflict between the need to understand the alternatives and the equally powerful need to bring the task to an end.

"It takes energy and self-control to do all this. You have to be able to concentrate, to form your thoughts, to pick those that are central to the topic, and reject those that aren’t. You have to be able to articulate them, to name them with sufficient accuracy and lucidity that someone else will know what you’re talking about. There’s no easy way to do this."



Thursday, April 06, 2006


From the page on creativity:

"Creativity - The ability or power to create. Productivity with originality and expressive qualities; imagination; newness. This typically requires getting comfortable with not knowing what you're doing."

Well I can certainly relate to this last statement! And I am getting comfortable with it.

Yesterday we drove to Phoenix for our Wednesday lunch to include one of our friends who lives up there. We had a fabulous time -- talked all the way up and back and while there, as well. What a tremendous blessing and privilege to be able to spend time with like-minded believers who are also intimate friends.

Didn't get any writing done, of course, but I think I made some huge progress in other areas relating to distractions. Tuesday I put together a tentative outline for the rest of part 2 and today I began to work on chapter 19, starting to develop the first scene. The day started with me having a vague idea of three events that would take place and the order in which they would. But nothing more than that. Not any of the connections between them, no sense of the place where they would occur, no sense of their importance to the story -- were they events that only needed to have happened? Or events that needed to be shown. It's simmering.

I'm looking forward to what tomorrow... or maybe even tonight... will bring.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The doors are closing -- Part 2

When I was finally able to say that it truly didn’t matter if I was never published or successful was when I began to live in a consistent state of peace. Yes, I knew I would be disappointed if rejection came alone or my book sales were less than robust, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Because ultimately I knew -- and still do -- that God’s plan is perfect, and He’s far more concerned with my happiness and well-being than I am.

This was not an easy place to get to. It's not a matter of just deciding not to care any more. In fact, I believe that is impossible to make oneself truly not care. It takes time. It takes the consistent learning and metabolizing and applying of the principles of God's word under the filling of the Holy Spirit. The rewards of coming to know God as He has revealed Himself through His word are vast, and the concepts He puts forth can solve every problem we'll ever face.

So today I thought I'd share some of the principles that have a made a big difference in my own thinking, particularly with regard to living with the waiting and uncertainty that are so typical of the lives of most writers, published and unpublished. (And maybe, when it gets down to it, typical of all of us).

The first is the importance of appying the command to destroy speculations and every lofty thing that raises itself against the thoughts of God. We're to capture every thought to the obedience of Christ, 2 Co 10:5 tells us, a principle I'd known for some time before I ever began to actively apply it. I think at first I didn't realize just how important it was. And then I was flummoxed when applying didn't go very well. Realizing that captives don't like to stay captive, and will constantly try to escape did a lot for my resolve and perseverence. I have to keep doing this constantly, often with the same sorts of thoughts, but I've learned that's the way it's going to be. Especially at first.

One of the most important thoughts to capture is one I learned courtesy of Elisabeth Elliot: Stay out of the Future! What's going to happen tomorrow -- or next year -- is information you will NEVER have and seeking after it is a futile endeavor that saps the strength and and uses up time given to us today. Stay out of it. Don't speculate, don't daydream, don't extrapolate -- good or bad. "Our lives are His' our times are in His hands. He is lord over what WILL happen, never mind what may happen."

Similar to that is to stay out of places where you are not. Like the editor's office (Is he reading my manuscript now? Is he liking it? Is he hating it?) or readers' heads, or bookstores, or booksellers' heads. These are all places you cannot go, and any scenarios your imagination comes up with will probably be wrong. It's a huge waste of time that, again, saps your energy and drains your enthusiasm. Don't go there.

If you know you have a gift for writing, or even if you think you do, and if you have the desire and time to use it, do so. If you want to be published, do whatever things you can that will lead toward that goal. But leave the results to Him. If you get rejections, oh well. All you know from a rejection is that your book is not going to be published by that house and that editor at that time. That's all. If you get ten rejections, you still only know that those editors/houses at those times are not in God's plan. You don't know what the future holds, so don't try to extrapolate. Don't fight with your negative thoughts and try to argue or excuse them away. Just refuse to think them and concentrate on truth. If worse comes to worst, distract yourself by doing something else.

If it seems like the battle is primarily in your thoughts, that's because it is. Some thoughts -- like fear and worry and doubt -- are sins and need to be confessed. But I found that just being able to recognize and cut off my little thought trips to the future and other folks' heads, and thus keep my eyes on God and His plan for the moment, was tremendously helpful in holding on to His peace while waiting. Maybe it will help someone else as well.

Grace and peace!

Monday, April 03, 2006

20 hours on the road

Photo: San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, AZ

Well we had a whirlwind trip, driving up to Flagstaff in northern Arizona on Friday, then on to Moab, Utah, on Saturday for the memorial service of my husband's uncle. On Saturday morning we packed the car in a light snow flurry -- what a treat for us poor southwesterners who rarely see even rain. The drive was fantastic, rain showers sprinkling us now and then as the clouds swept dramatically across great vistas formed by the vast mesas that make up the area. I always get inspired to paint, but all I did this trip was snap a shot of the San Francisco Peaks outside our hotel room in Flagstaff on Sunday morning. All the best shots truly seem to be from the middle of the freeway... We left Moab Saturday evening and returned to Flag, then came home the next day. Twenty hours in the car. But we have no regrets.

I got no writing done, but knew I wouldn't, so I ended up with finishing chapter 16 as of the end of March, six chapters short of my goal of ch 22. Then today I realized that since I had decided last week to split chapter 3 into two chapters, I could go through and re-number everything and ... ta da! I had actually finished through chapter 17. Which puts me only five chapters back. Hey, I'll take whatever progress I can get.

Today was a decompression day. I did laundry and sat around waiting for my creative cupboards to open and scenes to pour forth. Alas, only a few snatches of dialog showed up, but together they made up 3 1/2 pages of Chapter 18. It's a start.

I want to thank all you who commented on my "doors are closing" post. Glad it was helpful and I appreciate the feedback. Tomorrow, maybe I'll do part 2 on it...

Resting in Him,