Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fighting My Doubts

This is something I have written about many times either in my journal or on this blog because it is something I am constantly battling.

Why do I doubt so much? The words of Paul ring in my ears: "If you don't work, you don't eat." (2 Thess. 3) I should base my life and whether I am in the center of God's will on His Word, but there are so many exceptions to that passage and too many take it too literally. Yet it has been thrown at me time and again. Perhaps it is a sign that I am guilty, or maybe it is simply Satan, the accuser (Rev. 12:10), trying to get to me.

Yes, I am single, and I should be able, if anyone is, of working. I may not get paid for it, but believe me, writing is work. And I hope to make some sort of money from my books. Even if I had a "proper" job right now (which, as you might know, are a bit hard to come by these days), with my high-strung personality, I would not get my writing done. I feel my story is my calling at this time in my life. I have never wanted anything more nor ever felt that I was so perfectly fit for a job. I feel I must defend myself constantly, even when no one is accusing me of any wrongdoing. The world says "Go this way" but I strongly believe God is calling me to something that is so contrary to our culture that even Christians are not entirely on board with it. For a jobless woman without a higher education to stay at home--gasp!--and write a book --gasp!--it must go against Biblical teaching. I am not convinced.

In many ways it seems my entire life has come together to bring me to this time and this task: my circumstances are the perfect writing environment, my type of imagination, my ability to think deeply and outside the box, my knack for lifting others up and bringing them hope, the time in which I live; 10 or 15 years ago it would not have been possible to obtain the amount of information I need to write about the Republic of Georgia or about any of the other ridiculously challenging topics I've had to study. If I had grown up any further in the future I may be blocked by internet censorship.

In the last few years I have been used to remind others of the promises of God. A lot of them have been friends who have lost loved ones; most of those losses recent. What more appropriate time to write about grief and heaven and the big picture of the Kingdom of God? I want to tell people how much God loves them, how much He wants to give them, that our loved ones are having an absolute blast in heaven...I could go on and on. I don't think there has been a series like this, ever. Books like Narnia and Lord of the Rings are more fantasy than this is, though it is closer to Narnia in that it is a mix of fantasy and reality. However, Narnia doesn't show heaven (that I know of--I haven't read the last book!) and I don't think it tells about the New Earth. I'm unaware of any book that does that. Most writers stop there. I say that is the best part, so let's explore it! 

One the most important reasons I believe I am made to do this is because I am a single girl. I appreciate God's love for me more than a lot of people do. So many have experienced love from the opposite sex and don't really know what it is to have no one else. I do. I know what it is to feel--as far as romance goes--unwanted and undervalued; not seen as the treasure I believe I am. I do like myself; I do feel that I am something special that will not come again on the earth. But it isn't a boy that makes me value myself. It is Jesus Christ, the One who died for me and who longs for me.

While I first had the idea to tell a story about the new earth in 2007, and then to write about Georgia in 2010, I have had to do a lot of growing to get to where I am now. I needed to have the proper perspective. The story is largely about God's love for us, and I had to fall in love with God if I was going to be remotely qualified to tell such a story. It seems as if I've taken forever, but maybe I had to be molded.

This year I have thrown myself into my work. I have off days where I don't get much done, today being one of them. Every day I have to decide if I am going to be Mary or Martha. Do I sit at Jesus' feet and do what I am supposed to accomplish, or do I get consumed with worldly tasks? I guess every minute I have the opportunity to change my mind again. As I am listening to the song "Time" by Hans Zimmer from the movie Inception, I am thinking "Which woman am I going to be right now?"   

I have a library book due in 4 days, so...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Prologue From The Future


It has been a long time since I last wrote, but I have never stopped working; not in my mind, anyway. Today I'm faced with some challenges that threaten the entire plot, but also decisions that may make my story a lot more interesting. Let me explain.

There is a lot of sight-seeing in this story. Almost all of it is unimportant itself, except that it is good for character development. The real problem lies in the fact that the context of this character development is dry, and difficult to make interesting. I'm trying to keep it short, and I've done a good job. It only takes up chapter. But a chapter at the start of a book (even if it's not the very first chapter) is crucial to the book's success. I don't want to lose readers because there's a whole chapter of tourism at the beginning.

I have already done a bit of flash-backing, probably too much considering it's all within a single chapter. But I'm starting to think if I have something at the beginning about the real point of this story--a narration or something from the New Earth or heaven part--people will have a reason to read on. 

This is not the first time I've considered this. I have been reluctant to bring anything from the future into this first book. For one thing, I haven't completely developed my ideas for the next ones, and considering there could be as many as three or four, I don't really want to share too much from the later ones if I want any flexibility to problem-solve. I don't want to get into a situation where I can't change something three books down the line because of what I wrote in the first book. So I have to be careful.

I know this is the right move. I need something to connect the series, even at the beginning. I try to prepare myself should someone ask me what this story is about, and in my own imaginings I always hear myself saying "but this is just the first book. The others will be more interesting." Maybe this says a lot about how I perceive my own work. I don't want this first one to seem like it's just something you have to get through before getting to what is better; before you get to what you really want to read. From the outline I've done, it's going to be tense and beautiful and heart-warming and all the things I love about books. At least, that is what I'm trying to do. Which is why I'm going to have to do something about the beginning. I must say, it's a good thing we live in the age of computers so I don't have to reorder everything by hand.

I wish this update was less technical and had less rambling, but it's so hard to talk about it without spoiling anything!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The World of Art and Creativity


Over the last several years I've tried to find my place in the world. At first I wanted to be a photographer, and had I gone to college, that is what I would have studied. Now I know it would have been a mistake. I needed time to find myself and to try different mediums of art. However, because I am no closer to self-sufficiency than I was at eighteen, I have begun to feel very useless to the world. I know I have something special to offer, I just can't figure out exactly how to offer it, other than the books this blog is dedicated to. I see that as my greatest purpose, but surely not the only one. I am sure there must be other means of making a living, and as my prospects as a college student are non-existent, I have no choice but to find it. With all of this weighing so heavily on me, particularly as I celebrated turning twenty-five this year, I needed some encouragement. Some of the last words I wrote in my journal just yesterday and the thoughts I had while praying in the shower this morning were basically along the lines of "What am I going to do now?" and "How can I succeed?" 

When I went to make my morning cup of tea, Mom had the radio on, and there I heard a guest talking about how very artistic and crafty people have a hard time finding their niche in today's economy. She says sometimes we are good at so many things that it's hard to commit to just one, or we feel we are going to get stuck with something that will burn us out in the long run. It was very encouraging to hear someone who knew what I was going through. I don't know that there is anything I can do right now, and I want to get this first book "published", but it's good to know that there is someone out there who gets that college is not the only way to success. I am currently having a hard time even getting a really simple part-time job--just something to start, since I've never worked outside the family business. It's really daunting to try to do anything too big, and my "big" is usually "small" to most people. In my current situation, I can't go to college to improve my artistic skills. I'm outside the age of scholarships and I can't possibly get a loan with no job. I am also a bit of a rebel when it comes to the college system. I believe a lot of college is wasted trying to earn credits doing things like dancing and cake decorating that has nothing to do with one's major. If I'm going to spend my time and money, I want to spend all of it on what is relevant. Call me crazy.

Anyway, next I turned to my devotional time and to my amazement, the devotion for today is about how some things that are giant steps for one person are baby steps for another. I know I have quoted this before (likely last year at this time ;)) but it was incredible to see something so appropriate for today. 

So for now, I'm going to focus on getting this story finished and keep improving my artwork however I can. We'll see where God takes me. I don't want to not do anything, but it seems every time I try to step out and do something, I hit a million obstacles.      

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No better than rape


In today's sermon our pastor talked about what it means to know God. John 17:3 says: "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." The Bible uses the same word "know" to describe sexual intimacy between a man and a woman. "He 'knew' her." 

Marriage between a man and a woman is like the marriage of Christ and the Church. I've known this for some time, but only recently has it sunk in. It suddenly occurred to me that one of the many reasons sexual immorality is so prevalent in the world is because we have a deep longing for intimacy with God. But we aren't longing for just a little intimacy like sharing secrets or a kiss--to put it in human terms of love. We long for something deep and profound. It might be called spiritual sex. A strange thought, I know. 

I once heard someone say that God allows us to choose whether or not we want to be with Him for eternity, and that He is being a gentleman by not making us be with Him when we don't want to be. I think most would agree that anyone who would force someone to marry them and to sleep with them is no gentleman. Yet that is what so many ask of God when they suggest that everyone should be allowed into heaven, even those who violently resisted God all of their lives. If a king lived in the only beautiful place in the world and the rest was a thorny wasteland, and if the one he loved did not love him back, would it be gentlemanly for him to force her to live with him when she wanted to be free? The fact is, forcing her would be no better than rape. 

If you like, you can picture Christ as that king, who went out into the barrenness for thirty years to draw her to him. He willingly died by the hand of those who loved the darkness, and even then it didn't guarantee that she would come to him. He proposed; now he must wait for her answer--an answer that could take her entire lifetime. I don't know about you, but our story is the best love story ever written. Thank you, Jesus, lover of our souls.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lanturn lights and Dusk


I just spent a very refreshing two hours writing out on my porch. Everything flowed freely and I'm thrilled with the result! I would have finished earlier, seeing as it is getting pretty late, but I didn't know if I would remember what I wanted to put down, and I didn't want to stop halfway through. I was going to settle for the little bit of work on the plot outline that I managed to get done before dinner--(including a new element that almost made me cry just reading the outline)--but I'm glad I went back out for a second round. It feels good to make that much progress in a single day! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Rising Sun


When I peeked out my window and saw that the sun was shining onto the porch, and felt the breeze coming in, I was moved to go out and spend some time with God. I am reading the book of Psalms and this is from today's chapter:

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course." Psalm 19:1-5

and then in my devotional:

"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." - Luke 1:76-79

Isn't it amazing when you hear barely a whisper calling you and you obey to be rewarded more than you could have imagined?

In this story I find one of my purposes in life. I asked God last night as I crawled into bed, if this was really what He wanted and if He wanted me to be an artist. If I am to "give his people the knowledge of salvation", this story seems a magnificent way to do it. Rather than diminishing, the desire to see it come into being seems to be stronger every day and every time I ask God what He thinks.

Also, rather early on I thought about having the Second Coming of Christ be like the dawn; like the sun rising on a dark world. It's good to know I'm at least in line with scripture. ;)

My uncle is out mowing the grass just now, so I'm glad I took advantage of the peace and quiet while I could!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Structural Overhaul


This afternoon I came to the conclusion that the first and the second books should be split into two books each. That's four books. (When I say "books", I'm not talking about novel-sized 300-pagers. I have no idea how long these stories will actually be. I figure they should be long enough to allow good character development, but short enough to get to the point. I'm a very get-to-the-point kind of writer ;)) I rejected that idea for a long time because I couldn't imagine writing an entire story about Georgia. It is so difficult to gather information about a country I have never been to that is not very well known. Plus it takes place during a time of war in a tiny village. Any of those factors will make a story challenging, but all four of them make it extremely daunting. Fortunately, I've come across quite a few Peace Corps volunteers' blogs and videos that show what it is like through the eyes of an American. Those resources have been absolutely invaluable. I'm not sure if a lot more information has become available about Georgia since 2010 or if I've just gotten better at googling. Maybe both.