March 29, 2017

Unfinished Masterpieces by Bob Jones

Did you know that some of the world’s greatest masterpieces are unfinished projects?

Scholars can’t agree whether Michelangelo’s sculptural creation is a David or an Apollo - but they all agree that, for whatever reason, it wasn’t finished. They’re not sure why.

Although it’s considered one of his best works, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known as Raphael left sixteen sections of the painting Transfiguration unfinished when he died. Assistants had to finish some of the figures at the lower left.

The Cathedral of Saint John The Divine in upper Manhattan is one of the largest cathedrals in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s complete. Construction began in 1892 and was on-again, off-again. It’s still missing its spires.

A watercolor portrait of President Roosevelt by Elizabeth Shoumatoff was painted on April 12, 1945 at Roosevelt’s Georgia retreat. The duo took a break for lunch, where the President complained, “I have a terrific pain in the back of my head.” He slumped in his chair and was soon declared dead from a stroke. Shoumatoff later finished a second version, but the original remains incomplete.

When I started this post there were eighty-nine draft posts awaiting my attention in my blogsite. The number comes up like a blue light special every time I look at my post list. 

* Most of the posts shouldn’t be finished. Some of those I trash after review but others get to live for
   another day.
* Some of them have potential.
* A few of them will become full-blown posts - masterpieces-in-waiting.

Here’s a way you can use your unfinished posts with potential. 

Take four or five of your best “undeveloped ideas” and offer them up in a post for someone else to finish for you. Write one or two paragraphs per idea. Adopt them out to others. Entitle the post - “Ideas Waiting To Grow Up” or “Posts That One Day Will See The Light.” Your unfinished work could become someone else’s symphony.

I riffle through all of my published posts that are over a year old at least once a month, keeping an eye out for ones that could be updated and re-posted.

One Friday a month I review the unpublished ones that should become full-blown posts. More than once I’ve been surprised to find a forgotten gem. I either complete it and publish it or make a simple edit and save it so that it moves to the top of my unpublished list as a reminder.

Now there are only eight-eight drafts as this writing exercise helped me make some tangible progress.

Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.

March 28, 2017

Am I Not Worthy of My Hire? - Bruce Atchison

I often wonder why I bother with writing. It hasn't paid my bills in the past 21 years, though I tried my best to sell my articles and books. In this world, we work for our money so we can pay our bills. As Ecclesiastes 10:19 (KJV) points out, "A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things."

Is not our work worthy to be purchased? As Paul wrote regarding remuneration for the servants of the Gospel in 1 Timothy 5:18 (KJV)  "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward."

For most of us, there's more to the craft than money. Firstly, there's our love of the written word. Being able to craft a compelling story or poem is aesthetically pleasing. Even if no magazine or book compilation features what we wrote, we still can be proud of it.

We also bless others by what we've written. In my case, people have complemented me on blog posts which particularly inspired and edified them. No doubt the rest of us Christian writers have had the same experiences.

I've also found writing to be excellent therapy. My second and third memoirs didn't sell well but writing them helped my heart to heal. The pain of being sent off to a boarding school and having been lied to in a house church has largely abaited. God used those books to exorcise those painful memories from my life. Doubtless others have had the same experience.

Our writing is also a legacy to our children. In my case, my sister Linda learned much about our family life through the events I recorded about being exiled to Jericho Hill School. I'm certain that other InScribers have had the same experiences as well.

March 27, 2017

Writing Buddies - What's it All About?

This could be YOUR writing buddy!
This is a brand new initiative that is still in its infant stages, but the ultimate vision is to create a database of writers who are looking for one on one encouragement, accountability, and candid feedback, and then ‘hook them up’ with another writer with common interests, goals, and experience. 

 This will be especially helpful for writers who live in isolated areas or who cannot become part of a writing group for any other reason. The idea for ‘Writing Buddies’ was sparked at the 2016 fall conference when Carolyne Aarsen, the VIP day guest speaker, mentioned that she and another writing friend committed to be one another’s ‘writing buddy’ after attending conference. This was before she went on to become a million plus selling author. 

The current goal is to find a few pairs willing to commit to a six month trial period, agreeing to contact each other at least once a month to talk about their writing goals, barriers, and other related topics. Writing Buddies’ is less about being a ‘critique’ partner or mentor, and more about the encouragement to persevere. 

If you are interested or just want more information, contact Tracy Krauss. A short questionnaire will be sent to you. 

March 26, 2017

It is Finished by Marnie Pohlmann

As a writer, I'm not sure I will ever say the words, "It is finished." Perhaps this is because I am a Mom, familiar with a vocation that is never finished. Even when a chore is complete, a few hours later it is undone.

Parents spend time
making a meal that is eaten in ten minutes, 
     while soon everyone is hungry again…
washing the dishes,
      to dirty them with another meal…
sweeping the floor,
      only to have crumbs and dust bunnies multiply...
folding the laundry, 
      and seeing the same shirts end up back in the dirty clothes basket…
making beds, 
     then sending kids to them for a nap…

Everything done becomes undone. It never ends!

Because a mother's work is never finished. 
Yet we eventually come to be at peace with the undone.

Writing is like parenting.
I have so many unfinished ideas
floating around in my head…
scribbled on scraps of paper…
hiding in my journals…
languishing on my computer…

They are not yet even projects!
Some are just twinkles-in-my-eye dreams that may never be birthed. As a writer, though, it is never too late to nurture new life, so I continue to collect these seeds.

I do have a few teenage projects in my family.
Some I have nurtured for a long time.
A novel…
A devotional book…
A memoir…
These are not yet ready to leave home, but they are growing.

Some of the youth have shown up more recently, hanging out but not yet feeling like part of my family.
I feel joy and anguish as I post in this blog space or on my own blog. I wonder, like all parents, what I am thinking, as I take on the responsibility of caring for an online life.

And some of these teens stay only a little while, like neighbour kids, before their time with me is done.
Contest entries…
Calls for submissions to magazines or anthologies…
These short-lived relationships help me stay involved. They force me to practice writing in unfamiliar areas. The rewards of writing to a deadline often outweigh the fears of rejection.

I like to spend quality time with each of these projects, however, life always seems to interrupt. Other family members call for my attention.
     Work demands the bills be paid...
     Ministry asks to be fed…
     Seasons switch clothing, adding to the laundry pile…

When I do make opportunities to connect with my projects, their teen moodiness does not always appreciate my attention.
We sit face to face,
     only they reject me with the silent treatment…
They don't like
     the fashion in my words clothing them…
Eyes roll
     at my attempts to play word games…

Occasionally I brush the hair from their face and send them out into the big world. A mother's angst frets they are not ready, and worries if they will be safe, treated with respect, and find their way to meaningfully influence the people who meet them. They go off where I can no longer reach to feed them, dress them, or care for them.

Still, I cannot say "it is finished."
I will always be their mom. They will always be my baby. I continue to see ways I could have done better by them. I continue to wish I could shape them differently. But they are gone, and I have others still at home who need my attention.

Because a writer's work is never finished.
And that's alright.

"It is finished."
Even our Lord, who said these words as He died on the cross, wasn't really finished!

Jesus rose from the dead (Hallelujah!) so we can be God's work in progress.
Sometimes we rebel…
Sometimes we run…
Sometimes we laze about the house not helping with the chores…
And God continues to love us, nurture and grow us.

God is an expert on resurrection and new life. So, when we look at our parenting or our unfinished writing projects, we can be at peace.

God's work in us and through us is never finished.

*photos courtesy of, CCO license.

Marnie is one of God's unfinished works in progress. 
Read how God is working in and through her at Phosphorescent.

March 25, 2017

An Unfinished Story By Vickie Stam

I was careful in choosing the right words, maybe a little too careful. Some of my classmates didn't like that. "You can't allude to something in your story - you need to spell it out!" They said. Their tone felt harsh and in that moment I wanted to close my eyes. Not see them. Not feel the sting of their comments. 

But the reality was that my classmates hadn't got what they needed from my story. They weren't able to look that close, read between the lines so that they could easily see what was inside my heart. See the pain that has lived in there. No, my words needed to convey more. They wanted more than I was prepared to give them. And hearing something with a negative tone attached to it - hurt.  

You see, for almost thirteen years I have been estranged from my youngest son, the fall out from my divorce. Throughout those years I have always felt a deep desire to write about the pain of being separated from him, the consequences of a marriage ending and how that has effected my relationship with my son.

There are questions that have plagued my mind. Answers that I wish I had. I wrote to find healing, and maybe, just maybe my story would one day help someone else through a similar healing process.   

I knew my story was not unique. I also knew that I wasn't alone in my plight. Being a Christian didn't exempt me from the painful circumstance either. Estrangement knows no boundaries.   

I had never shared my story with anyone, least of all a room filled with strangers. But in the fall of 2016 I set out to do just that - let others read the story that broke my heart. I enrolled in an eight week writing class that was supposed to provide me with feedback but I had no idea what that would feel like once I received it.  

A dozen faces stared at me and each person took their turn at telling me what they liked or didn't like. It was no longer my tears that smeared the black ink on the white pages, it was their comments that seemed to mare the pages. It was a tough eight weeks. A real learning curve in a writer's world. 

Psalm 16:8 "I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

But I was shaken. As I looked down at the blank paper I had placed in front of me, I began to write their comments down, one after the other. I had trouble allowing the encouraging comments to outweigh the harsh tone of others.   

But it was my first intensive writing class and the first time my writing was critiqued. I must admit, it knocked the wind out of my writing sails and took away my desire to move forward with my story.

That night, I received a pleasant surprise - an email arrived in mail box from one of my classmates. She wanted to let me know that she was sorry for the way my critique had gone. She said, "it isn't what people say that hurts - it's how they say it." She couldn't have been more right. Those words came as a blessing to me. God orchestrated, I'm sure. 

I finished the class in December and over the winter my story has remained untouched. It hasn't been at the top of my list of projects to carry on with. It wasn't as if I haven't thought about it. I have. 

And then, just the other day another email arrived. The same classmate letting me know that she was signing up for the spring session of the same writing and critiquing class. She wondered how I was coming along with my story and asked if I would be joining again. If not, she wanted to encourage me to find a way to keep writing. "You need to share your story. You're a good writer." She said.

How wonderful to hear from her once again!

I'm not sure where this story will go. I just know that at this point, it remains - an unfinished story.