I’m not sure if I’m going to work on my novel tonight or just write this blog post and then attempt sleep. I don’t have to really be awake early tomorrow and I can sleep in as late as I want…so we’ll see what happens when I finish this post.
I was in bed reading. I had told my husband when we went to bed that I didn’t know if I’d stay. I wasn’t exactly ready for bed and I thought I’d come in here and work on my novel a bit, but he does like it when I go to bed with him. We lay there reading our books in comfortable silence. Although tonight, we were listening to my Mom tell us a story via snapchat using all those funny voice changers. It was hilarious! I often wish I would record her snapchats – some of the things she says belong in novels!
Shortly, he turned off his kindle and soon the peaceful night was interrupted by his snoring. I continued to read and as I read some things in the book started hitting some very tender spots in my heart. Have you ever read something and felt like the author was speaking directly to you? That’s how I feel tonight. Eventually those feelings lead me to close my kindle, walk back to my office and begin this post.
It’s easy for me to write about something I’m feeling, an experience, things I’m passionate about, letters to others, and such. I have honestly found myself questioning first person vs third person writing this week. The reason being everything I’ve ever written has been in first person. I write from the “I” stand point and I think because I’ve always done so, the reason I’m struggling with my novel is the “he said, she said” mess.
But when I sit down and I just start writing, it flows and the word count climbs beautifully. Example: I’ve been writing this post for approximately five minutes and my word count is at 340. Earlier today when I was working on my novel and getting no-where fast I might add, my word count only reached 371 words. It took me 3 hours to write 371 words that I’m not even sure I like yet! Are you kidding me? I’ve surpassed that with this post in under 10 minutes.
I recently read – I wish I could remember where – that
“first-person has the ability to pull the readers directly into the story and create an unprecedented amount of intimacy between them and the character“.
So many people advise against first-person vs third, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s simply an author’s preference.
Anyway, back to the reason I’m sitting here writing this post…
The book I’m currently reading is Java Muse by George McVey. George is branching out a bit with this book – it’s not about Nugget Nate that’s for sure – and while I’m not sure how much I actually like the book yet, the darn thing is hitting me in the heart! And NOT because it’s a romance but because of the character Aurora!
Several years back – when I lived in Ohio – I took a class called, Ministries by Strength. It was by far one of my favorite classes, I got to write a lot! I probably still have the binder laying around here some where. Perhaps tomorrow I will take a photo of the sheer number of journals, binders and flash drives I have…so many unfinished pieces, unfulfilled dreams and possible stories longing for life.
During this class I learn my top 5 strengths. I have a plaque somewhere with them framed inside it…I wonder what I did with that. Believe it or not, we are still unpacking boxes. We’ve been in our home for about 8 months now…retiring is hard work.
I’ll have to find the plaque to remember the other 2. I’ve not forgotten these three because one of them shocked me and the others empowered me. I have a pretty strong belief system – or at least I think I do. My teenage children would say it’s too strong probably. Even people who don’t know me extremely well pick up on it rather quickly. I had a friend of mine once tell me, “You don’t not want to listen to that song. You’ll have to go home and read your Bible if you do.” -I don’t even know what the song was but I’m thankful for the warning.
An Idealist – some might not like that. I think it fits me perfectly. I’m always cooking up some idea in my head, be it a story, something for my flower beds, a quilt I should make, gifts for someone…I am rarely bored. I am able to entertain myself quite often. I can make myself laugh and even cry with some of the stuff I come up with. The mind is a playground and mine is very active.
Empathy is what shocked me. I never imagined I’d get that. I can be rather hard. I do not sugarcoat many things. I love to tell the story of how I became friends with my best friend.
I was living in Ohio. My marriage had been struggling and I was struggling personally. God put some very special people in my path. I had cried out to him to take the wheel of my life because I couldn’t do it anymore. I was making a massive wreck of it and I hated myself for it. The guilt was eating me up inside. These special people were part of a ministry called Mom to Mom. We met once a week for breakfast, Bible study and fellowship. In the beginning I fought it, tooth and nail. I wanted to stay home in my pajamas and do absolutely nothing.
I still enjoy that by the way and I know it’s not healthy, that I should get out more. I make myself go out but not as often as some would like I’m sure. I just enjoy being home and comfortable. I’m not depressed or miserable. I feel safe here. I do feel bad, well guilty -really, when I have spent the whole day doing nothing and my husband walks in and immediately does the dishes. I should have at least done that and why didn’t I? I’ve no idea on that. I’m not the best housewife – definitely not a strength.
Once attending Mom to Mom became a routine, I found I enjoyed it. I hated to miss a Thursday meeting. It fueled me. However, those beginning months were hard. At first I didn’t want to go and then I struggled with attending the play dates or outings they planned. Little by little I stepped out, but I was dealing with a mountain of hurt on the inside. There had been things said to me that had left invisible wounds that had yet to heal.
One day while attending a play date with them at the park my life changed. My youngest was 3 and my oldest 5. He was playing on the slide and she wanted me to push her on the swing. I couldn’t be in 2 places at once and the obnoxious lady that I avoided as best I could – since she was also my daughter’s piano teacher – was pushing her daughter on the swing next to mine and began to also push my daughter. She was helping me and I appreciated it until she spoke. She didn’t know what wounds I was dealing with on the inside and I didn’t know her well enough to appreciate her obnoxious joking manner.
Geez, don’t you ever play with your children?
OUCH! Yes, she was joking, but it was like pouring alcohol into an open wound and she had no idea. I decided then and there I did not like her and I did not want anything to do with her. I made it through the play date and home without losing my temper or falling apart. I refuse to fall apart in front of people, my temper on the other hand is something harder to control.
It was hard to avoid this woman. We both attending the same ministry, same Church, she taught my daughter piano and we were on the same leadership team of all things! During a monthly leadership meeting she broke down crying. I could not for the life of me figure out what was wrong with this woman. Do you know why she was falling apart? Between her sobs she cried,
…but I yelled at her!
She’d yelled at her precious daughter and felt like a monster for it. The guilt, something I was very familiar with for other reasons, was chewing her up something fierce. Most everyone had gone home and somehow I was the one left to, well…fix her. Growing up I was always trying to fix problems that arose, even today if something is happening that’s not right I find myself trying to fix it, make it better or put a bandaid on it at least.
So here this woman that I’d avoided getting close to sat crying a river and drowning in guilt and I had the nerve to tell her…
You are the best Mom I have ever known! All the kids, whether yours or not adore you. They all want to go play at your house all the time, mine included. You are their best friend. You are not a bad Mom and I don’t even like you!
Startled she looked up at me.
Y-you, you don’t like me?
My empathy skills are so on point right here and now that I go on and tell her,
No! I don’t like you!
…and so then we get into the reason behind that why, the invisible open wounds within and I magically walk away with what? A best friend! Believe it or not, and she to this day is still my best friend. We became nearly inseparable for my remaining time in Ohio. She came to visit me in England, we’ve been on vacation together and last year we needed a weekend away to recharge our batteries – so we found the middle point between us and met up in Charleston West Virginia for the weekend. I’m hopeful we may get to do it again soon. It is a beautiful place to visit.
Can you see why empathy being one of my top five strengths shocked me? I’m about as subtle as a gun! The truth of the matter is that I can put myself in other people’s shoes. I can relate. (I think I just remembered #4: Adaptability) I can feel and strongly so. When Jenny was overcome with guilt that day, I knew how awful it felt because guilt and I had been constant companions for a long time.
And so as I’m reading, Java Muse and R.G. is an author who has met the lovely Aurora. Aurora is a writer who dreams of being an author. Does that mean writers are not Authors? In my mind, it means if you are not published somewhere, somehow -then you are a writer. I honestly do not know where that puts me; as I have been published on different blogs/websites, a poem in a book back in 1999 and a newspaper article…BUT have I ever published a book? No.
So I assume, I’m considered just a writer at moment. Which drives me crazy because I feel until I have a book out I cannot join and play in the Author only groups. I want to learn from them and I feel locked out, but when I message a few I know on Facebook they are always kind and helpful.
I don’t want to give parts of the book away – so if you haven’t read it yet – perhaps you shouldn’t read any further on this post.
Aurora’s belief in herself is limited. She’s had people in her life tell her she is wasting her time and to quit fooling with it. I can very easily put myself in Aurora’s shoes. I’ve had Authors tell me
first you need to learn to write
and probably by a dictionary
Basically, “I’m not good enough“. Yet, I’ve had family, friends and teachers encourage me from early on. I began writing when I was 8. It has always been an outlet for me and that developed and grew into a passion. I cannot imagine a life where I am unable to write. I have also had family members say things like:
Well, you’ve never published a book before.
and that one probably sticks out and hurt the most, because all I needed that person to say was,
Yes, I believe you can.
Just to help my unbelief, to give me that cheerleader who wouldn’t let me quit on myself. I needed that person to believe in me. I was in middle of writing a novel, a novel that sits unfinished in my mountain of dreams, all because that person couldn’t say what I need to hear that day. I’ve had to learn to move past that, to believe in myself enough to push forward. It’s taken some time and in the process I have simply kept everything under my hat.
Oh, by the way – I get off on tangents sometimes and it truly interrupts my writing. I’m aware of the issue, trust me.
Sometimes the urge to write is so strong it literally pulls me out of bed! I get so frustrated because there are times when I feel that I need to write, right then and there, but LIFE…husband, kids, dog, cat, work, friends and I wouldn’t trade it, but sometimes I literally just cannot get there. And whatever it is that had entered my idealistic brain has vanished and refuses to reappear when I finally take my seat.
I do not go anywhere without pen and paper or my phone, but there are times when that is not enough or I return to the note I left myself only to wonder what on earth it was about. Yep, I’m that bad. I have a horrible memory.
Like Aurora, many times I think “It’s not good enough, I’m not good enough.What am I even doing?” And then I read something that’s total bologna and think if that can be published why am I sitting on a mountain of possibilities and not moving…
Fear. Rejection. Not being able to reach someone, to touch their life somehow.
You see, I’m not in it for money. It would be nice, I won’t lie – but one thing you hear over and over from ALL kinds of Authors is:
Don’t do it to get rich.
I believe there are several types of riches. There is of course money. I believe there are Godly riches – a blessing you’ve received from following God’s word. I believe there are also “riches of gifts“. What do I mean?
Christmas is my favorite Holiday and not because of receiving gifts, but because I love to give! I love to find that one special thing that touches the heart of the receiver, to see their bright smile and happy tear. It makes me feel good. It blesses me, heart and soul. It’s almost better than coffee.
So when I think of pushing submit, I dream of my words reaching the one whose heart needs them and will be touched. Who will find themselves standing in the shoes of one of my characters, just as I have found myself tonight standing in Aurora’s. Perhaps they’ll be inspired somehow or someway in their life.
Java Muse pushed me from my bed to write these words, simple as they may be. If I were George, and someone was writing this in reference to a book I’d written I would feel accomplished. As if I’d finally gotten out of my own way and made it. Ironically though, I’m not a hundred percent sold on Java Muse yet. I’m not even half way through it though. I’m reading it because I consider George a friend and I want to see how he does with this branching out. I want him to succeed with this and watch him grow as an Author. It’s helpful to me.
Anyway – I’ve rambled my little heart out and while my eyes are open I believe my head is tired. So I’m going to attempt a little shut eye. Later today, since it is now after 1 a.m. I will return to my novel, take a deep breath and try again. Thank you George for encouraging me through your words in Java Muse. I needed to read them. I will try to finish the book soon, after I’ve written many words of my own. Speaking of which this post is now over 2800 words…and to think I only managed 371 earlier. Where was my head?!
I’ll leave you with this. Words hurt. They leave lasting impressions. You can never take them back. So when you speak or when you write be sure that the impression you leave behind is one of love.