August 30, 2014

Susan and the Fabulous, Awesome, Marvelous, Out-of-Sight, Unreal, Super Writing Year - by Susan Barclay


So I've been given a year to do nothing but write. Money is no object, nor is time or space. What would I do? Write, of course!!

Now you all know that there's more to writing than writing. Even with all those other considerations out of the way (money, time space), there are other things to do that are connected with the craft, but aren't actually writing. Research, for one.

First stop, Grand Canyon, where part of my novel is set, but where I've never actually been. Before going, I'd have to research the best time to be there, the best place to stay, what to see, who to connect with, etc. Then I'd follow through. And make lots of notes with lots of detail. Immediately on returning home, I'd revisit the relevant sections of my novel and add in the necessary elements. Once satisfied that all was polished to perfection, it would be time for the next phase of my writing year: finding an agent.

Finding an agent would also take research, using the Writers' Digest Guide to Literary Agents and word-of-mouth recommendations/suggestions. It would take some time to hook up with the right person, so while I was waiting, I'd work on more writing and submissions.

I already have some picture books ready to go, so I'd definitely work on submitting those. More waiting... More writing. Writing every day. Taking a writing class or two, attending conferences and workshops.

365 days would go by quickly. Too quickly, no doubt. And life would intervene along the way, as it is wont to do, and as others have pointed out well.

But it's my year, and I get to dream about it. Why not dream big and forget about obstacles?

P.S. Next year, I hope to make part of this dream come true by traveling to the Grand Canyon. If you've been there before, and have any input, I'd love to hear from you!
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For more of my writing, please visit www.susan-barclay.ca

August 29, 2014

A year to write with no limitations? - Ruth L. Snyder



As I sit down to write this post, my youngest daughter is beside me whining because I told her she can't play on the iPad any more today. A few minutes ago I settled a squabble between two of my sons. My ear is tuned to hear the buzzer on my washing machine downstairs so that I can put clothes in the dryer and place another load in the washing machine. In 20 minutes it will be time for me to make supper. I know many other writers understand, because we all have many demands on our time and energy. And yet, somehow, we all MAKE time to write.

Just for the pure fun of it, However, I'm going to put all my other responsibilities out of my mind and think about what I would do if I had a whole year to write without any limitations.

  1. I would spend time seeking God's guidance in my writing. I do that now, but my quiet times are often cut short by other duties and obligations. What a luxury it would be to have no limitation on time spent reading my Bible, praying, worshiping, and just being quiet in God's presence. I think my writing would be more focused.
  2. I would write more devotionals. The other day when I stopped to think about what I really want to write, it's devotionals. God is teaching me and has taught me many things I should share. Often I don't take time to write about these lessons. Sometimes I fight the need to be vulnerable.
  3. I would develop an online resource for Canadian foster, adoptive, and kinship families. This is something I've mulled over for years. Although there are many U.S. resources, there is no "go to" place for Canadians. For the past 8 years, I've had the privilege of editing In the Loop, a newsletter for foster, adoptive, and kinship families in north central Alberta. My dream is to develop an online community where foster, adoptive, and kinship families can find resources, share struggles without fear of judgement, and receive the support and encouragement they need. I'm taking baby steps, but a year without limitations would enable me to get it done faster.
  4. I would spend more time mentoring and encouraging new writers. I enjoy technology and explaining how things work. Helping people encourages me. I'm thankful my work with InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship gives me opportunities to share what I know, but I'm often frustrated by the time constraints I face.
My time's up. I need to go make supper now, but I hope you've caught a glimpse of my hopes and dreams. I'll continue to chip away at them in the time I do have, trusting God to use my feeble attempts for His glory.

Now it's your turn. What would you do if you had a year with no limitations?



Ruth L. Snyder enjoys exploring life's adventures through writing and photography. Find out more at http://ruthlsnyder.com.

August 28, 2014

... But Deliver Me From Bureaucrats by Bruce Atchison


In spite of my being almost blind, I consider myself wondrously blessed. Thanks to the heavenly Father, I have a beautiful house in a tiny hamlet. It's so peaceful here that I feel like I'm on a permanent writing retreat. Furthermore, I get up when I feel like it, eat when I want to, and I have no physical boss breathing down my neck.

So what's wrong with all that? When I was laid off from the federal government in 1995, the personnel worker placed me on unpaid leave for two years. I received disability pension cheques each month from Sun Life and the government. The reason for the unpaid leave was so that I could have two extra years of pensionable income.

Since I'm still permanently disabled, having lost my left eye to a hemorrhage in 1988, Sun Life sends me a letter each year to confirm that I'm still disabled. Canada Pension Plan, on the other hand, audited me in 2003. My case worker wasn't happy with my doctor's note and the tax forms I had to send in. I never did find out why that was. After ten months, my case worker said in a letter that I was approved to remain on CPP disability BUT warned that I could be audited again at any time without prior notice.

The sword of being investigated hangs over me, even though I haven't received that dreaded telephone call again in more than eleven years. As a result, I worry that I could be cut off from half my pension money at the whim of a distant, dispassionate bureaucrat.

I'd love to be free of that worry but it's the price I pay for being on disability. When I was laid off, a job skills counselor suggested that I should take up freelance writing after I showed him tear sheets of fan magazines which published my music reviews. I also showed him the government newsletters in which my articles about recycling appeared. This seemed to me a golden opportunity. I could write at home while doing what I loved.

Freelance writing and being an author hasn't paid well. Nevertheless, I'm glad I have the freedom to create without the pressure of making a living. Even so, I still live with the haunting suspicion that the next phone call will be my case worker in Ottawa with bad news about my pension.

While I can, I'll spend the next seven years and two months searching for writing work, writing short stories, and promoting my books. I shouldn't worry but I do. Even so, I know intellectually that the heavenly Father will work something out for me. Now that knowledge needs to work its way into my heart.

August 27, 2014

What if I had a year to write? By Melanie Fischer


That is a great question. No more cramming writing into an optimistically anticipated one hour that might be left over at the end of the day.

I can truly answer this question for you since I have had a couple cracks at a full year away from a "normal" job in order to write. I dove into this dream headfirst. However, the water was a bit shallower than I expected. I hit my head on the bottom of the dream when I realized that "time to write" meant time to do everything but write.

That's ok though. Since my work is flexible I have “all the time in the world” and I can write “anywhere at any time”. For instance, when my mom had her hip-replacement I could just bring my laptop with me to the hallway crowded, emergency bustling, machine beeping hospital. I could peck away at my keyboard a quarter sentence at a time as I perched myself on the 4 inch by 4 inch bed corner that I sprang from every fifteen minutes to let a nurse go by.

I have had many other places during my year(s) to write to lug my unopened laptop to as well. I was available for a very close friend through an agonizing time of losing her husband. I volunteered at a local soup kitchen and befriended the homeless and addicted. I visited an isolated arctic community and had my eyes opened to the third-world country that exists in our own country. I sat with my cousin through cancer treatments. My husband and I brought a lost teenager into our home and released our daughter back to university. I became more available for my husband in order for him to focus on his aspirations and hopped on the back of our Harley at times that my flexible schedule accommodated my husband’s less than flexible schedule. And, I had time to connect with amazing writers with similar struggles, aspirations and yearnings for inspiration.

By the end of my days that are set aside for writing I sneak away to my messy desk that is tucked away in an otherwise immaculate home that I have plenty of time to keep clean. The house is tidy, the yard is straightened, the dog is fed, the laundry is put away, the kids are grown. I take a look at the clock. Perfect! An hour of uninterrupted, laser focused, powerfully productive writing time. Just enough to write about all of the things that happened during the time that I had to write.

So, how would I write if I had a whole year to focus on it? Not much differently than if I didn’t, just a little different content that is all.



You can read Melanie’s related article “The reality in being a fulltime writer” in the Spicy section of June’s issue of her monthly Purpose Buffet at http://www.hungryforpurpose.com/purpose-buffet-june/

To sign up to receive the monthly Hungry for Purpose Buffet go to www.hungryforpurpose.com

August 25, 2014

The "Write" Fantasy by Vickie Stam

Wow! I'm imagining myself having an entire year with the freedom to focus on my writing without being bogged down by a single thing....nothing. No financial worries. No time constraints. The unbearable tick-tock is no longer my enemy. Sounds unbelievable, yet very enticing. Deep down I'm chuckling.

I have to say I feel a little bit like Alice in Wonderland except my rabbit hole is slightly different. At the end of the long hallway there's only one locked door; not many and the small 'key' opens the door to none other than.... my success. Along the way, the people and animals that I meet are simply the characters who play an important role in my upcoming novel and inside my so called 'rabbit hole' is where my story unfolds.

Every morning I get to wake up with the privilege of an abundance of time. How grand! A plush carpet massages the soles of my feet with every step I take. A comfy chair awaits my arrival in the room to my success. I sit down at my large writing table. I obviously need one to house all my brainstorming efforts. Notes, scraps of paper, anything that might contain one or two words are not so neatly stacked but are readily available in the event I wish to incorporate them into my book. And smack dab in the middle of my writing table sits a computer to which I am the sole proprietor of. The room is filled by the delightful sound of my fingers plucking out every word. Outside my picture window an attractive garden blooms for those moments when I need to stop and reflect. This is my first encounter with such freedom and I dare say it feels magically delicious.

There are bookshelves lined with practical handbooks on writing well and I have a wonderful mentor to advise me because I'm now committed to crafting my first novel with a beginning, middle and end, something I often think about doing but so far have found the excuse that seems to work well..... too many of life's hiccups continue to get in the way. The very thought of having a year with this kind of freedom sounds very inviting.

But seriously, how many of us have an entire year to focus solely on our writing. I'm guessing not many. And let's face it, the realities of life are the very things that help shape our stories by providing us with some of the most amazing backdrops, protagonists and cliff hangers.

We all need more time! Time to write without any reasons to hold us back. I'm sure, if I put my mind to it, I could sit down and write an entire novel from beginning to end..... most likely not in an entire year. But having said all of this, I do look forward to the days when I can simply focus more on my writing and less on the things that we think seem to get in our way.

2 Peter 3:8 "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."
  

           

August 24, 2014

What If's? by Lynn Dove


What if I had a whole year free to write?  There have been movies about that kind of a plot line where an author goes off by himself/herself for a lengthy period of time to write the next great best-seller.  As I recall in some of those movies like "Secret Window" or "Misery" or "The Shining", it does not end well for the writer.  Of course that sort of scenario only happens in Stephen King novels, right?

Personally, I think a year dedicated to the craft of writing may be idyllic but I know it would turn out horrific for me and here's why.

I procrastinate.

I would spend the year dedicated towards writing doing everything else but write.  For me, I need the deadlines, the fixed schedule, the required daily discipline necessary to stay focused to be able to write.  I am a pressure writer, I actually thrive under it. 

There are writers who would be able to lay out a daily writing schedule for a year and stick to it.  I applaud them, but that's not me!  I would likely start the year off with set goals and long-range plans but like most New Year's resolutions, within a month of best intentions, I wouldn't have accomplished much and the guilt at having squandered the opportunity would likely create a writer's block that would take me eleven months to overcome.

In the meantime, I would have learned how to cook, garden, paint and anything else that caught my fancy over that time.  I would have read countless novels, taken good, long walks, spent more time on Pinterest (than I already do now), and would only have a few of my own written lines to merit an editor's cursory glance.

Instead, I would prefer a year dedicated to learning about the craft of writing; taking courses, joining writing groups, attending conferences, traveling to book fairs and actually hob-nobbing with other authors for inspiration and encouragement.  THAT would be my idea of idyllic and I would consider that a year well spent! 

(On a side note: The InScribe Writer's Conference is at the end of September and unfortunately my schedule will not permit me to attend this year.  I attended a couple of years back and enjoyed myself thoroughly.  Know that my thoughts and prayers will be with all the attendees at this year's conference!)

Connect with Lynn on her award-winning blog, "Journey Thoughts"







August 21, 2014

What if--Writing Through a Glass Dimly by Jocelyn Faire

All the what if's in the world, wishing on stars—it won't change a thing ... determination, perseverance and a twist of fate changed my life and writing.

Writing through a glass dimly ... like a fog ...

“If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” That used to be the way I lived my life, my most prolific sewing happened with three small children attached to my body like extra limbs. Busyness, the accepted hallmark of Christian faith—the way many of us lived and still do, life filled with those appointed good works .... and then a twist of fate ... For me it was drastic and tragic ... the accident that took two children, the nest emptied, so torn apart by grief that barely a few twigs remained of that once-happy and full family nest.

And now, I am in that place where I have the time.

And the sense of urgency has decreased.

Now the need to write, is to make sense of this world, to give Hope a voice. I ache to express the beauty, the pain, and the God behind both. Being has become more important than doing.

Having the time or money to write, is not my issue—the issue is having the resilience to carry on, to respond to be creative and willing in all aspects of life, including writing.

When I read the question for this month, I didn't know quite how to approach it.

Perhaps that right time to do the things we keep on a bucket list, is once we get to heaven, when we are not seeing through the glass dimly. And then what? What will I have to write about? The tears will be gone, I will not be needing to overcome these great obstacles ... what will John Grisham write about? Ian Rankin ... who needs murder mysteries? Or those self-help books ... or, perhaps I should write now, because in Heaven I won't need to express the twisting doubts?

This summer I lost a very dear friend, a heart issue at age 57... and the bereft family said in the initial email ... she went to her eternal rest.

One thing I know about my friend, she wouldn't want to be in eternal rest. I don't think that's what Heaven's about. I used to wonder about eternity ... if it was going to be forever anyways, I saw no rush to get there, but once I had two term deposits up there, my outlook changed. Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven paints a phenomenal picture of experience and beauty, an exciting future he believes will greet us upon arrival. And he is convinced that we get to continue on in our creativity, and work in the eternal future. (This is not a theology piece on heaven.) So will I be writing up there? Or should I finish my stories here below? And 1 Corinthians comes to mind, If I speak (write) with the tongue of men and angels, but have not love, I'm a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal.


While kayaking last week, heavy with thoughts of my friend's life, praying about the upcoming funeral, I saw the most exquisite flowers, unlike any I had ever seen before, what made them so unique? They were underwater. I have seen enough seaweed and lily pads, where the blossoms rest on top of the water, to know this was exceptional, ... I kayaked over the clear blue green mountain lake waters again, to be sure my eyes had not deceived ... yes there, through the water glass dimly, were tiny yellow and white flowers a few feet below the surface ... the water dimmed their colours, but they truly were blooming where planted.

I think I can continue to write from under the water as long as I keep my kayak aimed at the Son!


Jocelyn writes about Hope in the Hard Places on her blog.


 

August 19, 2014

Living Lampstands by Linda Aleta Tame


Living Lampstand
14 x 18 Acrylic on Canvas

We 
want 
to see light precious light
We want to be light
precious light
Living
lampstands
growing
glowing
He fills 
the earth
with glory light
Arise
Shine
 He is
In you
And you are
the glory
of God



August 17, 2014

I'M THERE! WELL, SORT OF Bryan Norford



To have unlimited time, space, and finances to indulge in a writing compulsion is the fantasy of us all, but it seems to me, an unrealistic and pointless pipe dream. Unless, perhaps, it sparks some selfie encouragement: “I can do this,” or at least squeezes a little more time and money by judicious rearrangement.

But, believe it or not, I have finally arrived at that writers’ paradise where all those dreams have come true. Well, almost. Let me explain.

Being retired, I have, apparently, all the time in the world to spend on myself. Mind you, I still have to take out the garbage, fill up the car, pay the bills, and suchlike, but really negligible time demanded by my married status. No excuse here.

As for space, I have my own well equipped workplace, bookshelves to hand, and a deep closet that can house a filing cabinet. No more fighting over counter space to plant my laptop. Ann, too, has her own space which avoids conflict with mine. Okay, okay! It is smaller than mine, but she likes to be near the kitchen. She says the juices flow while the soup simmers.

Last, I really don’t have all the money I require, but the industry has provided free publishing and digital printing that allows me to buy one or a thousand books at the same reasonable price. The advantage, beyond cool costs: I don’t have to fill my basement with a thousand books of every title. I can store the few I need in my deep closet.

So, as you see, I’ve got it made. So how do I spend my time? You tell me! I can’t remember too well. It seems to leak out of every corner of my life. In fact, as you’ve probably heard, I don’t know when I had time to work. And the writing I planned is in my head, incomplete, unchecked, or still in the bucket.

It appears that although I have all the time I want, there are more demands on it: others’ needs, recreation, family togetherness, that great time waster—in my opinion—sho-o-o-opping, and, of course, ministry and time to enjoy the pleasure of His company.

Absurdly, with all the benefits I desire, I still do not produce the amazing works of art that you, dear InScribers, accomplish with less. It is not the availability or lack of resources upon which great work depends, but on the inspiration God graciously provides.

Deprivation frequently provides depth to art, affluence often stunts it. It’s His resources that advance the Kingdom. What ever we have are only tools for His service. The bottom line is not our assessment of time, money, or resources, for He will provide whatever we need—much or little—to accomplish what He requires of us.

But, if I’m honest, I do enjoy my comfortable space—for which I am daily grateful. 



August 15, 2014

The Magic If - Tracy Krauss

'The Magic If' is actually an acting technique introduced by iconic director Stanislavski to help actors portray emotion on stage. Basically, an actor is asked to imagine certain situations and draw from his or her emotional memory. Sometimes, an action or even an imaginary object is added to help the actor react in a convincing manner. In a nutshell, actors should ask the question, "What if...?" and fill in the blank. (Example: If an actor is asked to portray fear, he or she could ask the question, "What if a gunman had a gun pointed at me?") I won't go into all the finer details, but when I saw this month's writing prompt, I couldn't help making the connection. (I do teach theatre arts, after all...)

The prompt reads something like this: "...what if you had a whole year free to completely focus on your writing? If financial considerations were magically taken care of, would it change how/what you write?"

Now this is a 'what if' scenario I can really get into! I don't think it would change what I write as much as how I would accomplish it. And it would certainly change the amount I would be able to produce. I can imagine myself finishing three to four full length novels per year instead of the paltry singular I've managed so far. Plus, think of all the time for online tasks that often get brushed aside. Maybe I could even make a bit of money at this gig!

I'm sure reality wouldn't run that smoothly. Murphy's Law dictates that when we have more money we spend it, so I imagine it is the same with time - more demands would eat up the hours. I am actually blessed to have a small taste of this scenario every summer. As a teacher, I have two months each year when I can focus more exclusively on my writing and it tends to be quite a productive time for me. It is something I am very grateful for.

Until the time I can quit my job, I intend to be satisfied with that - although it is fun to imagine...

Tracy Krauss continues to dream about writing full time from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. In the meantime, she will keep plugging away - one novel, play, or short story at a time... To see what writing she has managed to accomplish, visit her website: http://tracykrauss.com or sign up for her newsletter to keep up with all the latest.

August 14, 2014

Year of Freedom Writing by Pamela Mytroen

If I could write for a full year without financial or time restraint what would I write?


The first thing that comes to mind is that I would probably squander the year away saying, “Oh well, I have all day tomorrow to write, or all next week, so today I will just do this or that . . . .” When I am working full-time I finish more writing projects because I know I have to get it done now or it won’t happen. With my bad habit in mind, the first step on my year of writing would be to set up an accountability partner to ensure that I would write regularly. Come to think of it, that would be a great idea for my present life!


The second step to my wonderful writing year would be to travel to countries such as Indonesia, where Christians, unfortunately, are being persecuted. I would interview a few select people and write their true stories. These are amazing stories of surrender. While we struggle over deciding which pattern of granite to select for our kitchen countertops, they are deciding whether or not to make their faith known to their family, for which they could drown in their backyard swimming pool, or be stoned outside their city. These are stories of how sometimes the Lord intervenes miraculously and saves them from certain death, or starvation, or from physical harm. And yet even when the Lord is silent, still these dear Christians persevere and give their lives for Him. Christians in our affluent and soft-life society need to get a perspective on what is happening to their own family just a plane-ride away. These stories need to be told!


When I thought about having no financial worries, I realized that I would still do a lot of the same writing I’m doing today. Though they do not pay richly, the lessons learned and the friendships created are worth the effort. I would still write human interest stories because they yank me away from my comfy slippers-and-desk routine and drop me into new worlds where I’m forced to speak, negotiate, and relate with others, and even provide opportunities to express grace and love. I would still write devotionals because of the depth of relationship I find with Jesus, and the profound joy in sharing raw discovery with others. I would still write letters, encouraging notes, and especially little blog-type posts of daily life because they help us all remember that there is humour and beauty in every day. And I would still write short fiction because it’s an amazing ride and the vehicle drives home truth in a creative way.


This was a good topic because it helped me to realize contentment in all my current writing projects, but also helped me dream and focus on what I have yet to achieve.

What about you? If you had a full year to write and no financial worries, would your writing change dramatically or not?

 ~ Pamela Mytroen