My Highest Aspirations

It’s the third week in my writing quote series, and I am particularly fond of the quote I’m using this week. It’s by Louisa May Alcott who authored one of my favorite books as a young person, Little Women. She wrote novels, short stories, and poems in the nineteenth century when times weren’t the best for women. She had aspirations though, and that is why I like this quote. “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

Aspirations–we all have them. From the highly unlikely to come true like winning the lottery to the mundane like having enough to spend at the grocery store and everything in-between, we all have aspirations. If we are Christians, we should also have the aspiration to be led by God in everything we say and do and to share the love of Jesus with everyone we know.

I don’t know a whole lot about Alcott except that she wrote some excellent books, but she had dreams like all of us do. Aspirations. She knew she might not reach all of them, but that didn’t prevent her from having them, and it didn’t prevent her from trying to reach them either.

Those are beliefs I’m trying to pull into myself as I’m living this new life of mine as an empty-nester trying to break into freelance writing. My biggest dream, my biggest aspiration is to have a published book. To have other people read my words and be encouraged by them, to be entertained by my stories. I believe this is a path God is taking me on.

But, I’ve realized this path is probably not going to look like what I think it needs to look like, and that’s where the quote comes in. I believe God gives us aspirations and hopes and dreams for our lives. He wants us to depend on Him totally as we walk towards the future with Him at our side. Sometimes our job will be to help others reach their aspirations while at other times, we will reach the aspirations He has called us to.  This is when we need to give Him the credit since we can’t reach those aspirations on our own. We don’t do this well though because we like to think we maintain control in our lives by proclaiming our independence from others. I struggle with this daily because I want to be the one who claims the credit. But, God wants the credit. He wants those who don’t know Him to see Him in us as we experience the joys and sorrows of this life which includes the successes and the failures of our aspirations.

So, that’s why I love the quote. It lets me see the aspirations God is giving me, but, at the same time, tells me how God wants them to look and not how I want them to look. If we are Christ’s disciple, should we expect anything else?

Hope everyone has a great day!

 

The Emotions of Writing

It’s time for another excerpt in my writing quote series for this month. I feel like this is going to be a tough one to write because I’m still getting the hang of showing versus telling in my writing, and emotions, in particular, are harder to interpret with just words. But, those who are further along in their craft, are able to show emotions in their work and elicit emotions from the reader. This is what inspires me to continue to work on the craft of writing–to be good enough to write a complete story which brings out all elements of the human experience including emotions.

First, let me share the quote for this week. It’s by James Michener and reflects how I feel about the words I put together. “I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” Aren’t these words amazing? A true expression of how a writer can make people feel as they read the words they have written. These feelings can be good. They can be bad. They can share sadness. They can express joy. Every feeling in the human experience can be shown through words. But, (and I bet you knew there would be a but), it’s not good enough to just say someone is sad. For it to have an impact on the reader, it has to be shown they are sad. Here’s an example.

“Joanna couldn’t believe he had just walked out the door. Tears poured down her face as she slumped to the floor. It was like when her mother had died. She could see no path back to when she and Eric had been happy. She knew it was time to move on, but she had to grieve her loss first.”

I have read so many books that have done this well. Brought the zenith of the human experience to me–the highs and lows of this life. I think that’s why Jesus told so many stories. He knew those stories would be the best way for us to learn about Him. We are a people of stories.

But, to write those stories. That is much harder. To write them well, I mean.  I find I need to write about my life for it to make sense to me. When I write about my emotions though, I just name them and don’t do a good job of showing I have them. I’ve found people don’t respond well when I do that, especially with negative emotions. They see the word of the emotion, and all of their connotations of that emotion come to the forefront without them even considering what it means to the writer. But, I keep trying. Trying to make myself understandable through my words since I have such a tough time doing it in person.

As I’ve already said, expressing emotions well can be done in writing. It can be done with negative emotions and positive emotions. Here’s an example with positive emotions.

“Her eyes lit up like the sun coming out after a cloudy day. She extended her trembling left hand towards where Robert was holding the ring. Her smile extended from ear to ear. ‘Yes, Robert, I will marry you.'”

The examples I’ve shared here are just a few of what I’ve accumulated with my writing. Through my reading, writing, and research each day, I store words in my heart by reading the greats in my field and write them on paper to practice what I’ve learned. This has helped in my development as a writer. The one thing that has helped the most though is the emotions I’ve experienced in my life. Yes, you can write about emotions without experiencing them. But, I find that experiencing the emotions makes my writing deeper and puts it further towards the chance of being published. Emotions–they’re a part of what makes us human whether we are experiencing them, reading about them, or writing about them.

Let me know the hardest emotion you’ve ever had to write in the comments.

Have a great day, all!

Language

I’ve decided on a different focus for this month, one that I hope will better help me understand this desire I have to put words together into sentences which flow into paragraphs which tell a story. I’ve used quotes about writing before and used paragraphs to explain what each one meant to me. This month I want to take a writing quote each week and dissect it down to its bones. Explain its meaning not only to me but what I think it could mean to all of us. And, so, this week I am talking about language, the thing that allows us to write, and the thing that allows us to talk.

Before I go any further, let me share the quote. It’s from Joyce Carol Oates, and it’s the one that inspired me to put this series together. “The use of language is all we have to pit against death and silence.” I look at this quote and wonder what I would do if I was suddenly silenced. If I could no longer speak, if I could no longer write, no longer communicate at all. Or even if I was limited in what I could speak or write. Those ‘amens’ I said yesterday morning at church, the words I sang, they would no longer be possible. How would I express myself to the people I love? How would I praise my Lord and Savior? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. And, if I couldn’t communicate, if we couldn’t communicate, there would only be silence as the quote says. Because communicating is so important to us as a species, I believe death would follow shortly thereafter as the quote also says.

There have even been books written about the limitations of language. The most recent of these was the novel Vox written by debut author Christina Dalcher in which women and girls are only allowed to speak 100 words a day. I haven’t read it so I’m not qualified to review it, but the concept is terrifying. How my faith could turn into something so restrictive is almost beyond words and something, I believe, God would not want to happen.

Because God created all of us with the ability to speak and the ability to write, and I don’t believe He meant for any restrictions to be put on it like the modern-day church has attempted to do. We are all; men and women, black and white; capable of using language for God’s glory. We are also capable of messing up in our use of language. Messing up through our sin and messing up because we’re not with Jesus yet.  But, that doesn’t mean we quit using language. It means that we need to make sure our language and our deeds match up so we can be the people Jesus wants us to be. It means apologizing when we mess up and doing our best not to repeat what we’ve done. It especially means respecting the gift of language God has given us and using it the way He wants us to. So, if I’ve ever not used God’s gift of language wisely, I want to apologize to those who read this blog and to those who know me in real life. The way we combine our language and our deeds can be the way God uses to bring someone to the Kingdom, and that, as Christians, should be our staunchest desire.

May we all recognize the beauty of language in our lives, and may we use it for His purpose.

God bless you all today!

How Far I’ve Come

When we’re trying to implement changes in our lives whether they be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, we sometimes have a hard time knowing if what we’re doing is actually making a difference. Or at least, I do. The old adage of one step forward and two steps back has been a big part of my journey this year. But yesterday, a status came up on my Facebook memories that caused me to take stock of the journey I’ve taken over the past year. What was it? Well, a year ago yesterday, I had boarded my first international flight in twenty-six years to go to Honduras. Here is what I looked like on our first day of work which was a year ago today.  I had such a blast playing with those children. We had other good experiences too like helping to build latrines, holding Vacation Bible Schools, and getting to know the people at the churches my church in the US sponsors.   I came home from that trip changed, but I didn’t know how far-reaching the changes would turn out to be.

I knew I was in bad physical shape as the summer drifted to a close in August. I was going to have opportunities I hadn’t had in a while though since I was done homeschooling. My son was going to be taking classes at our local community college. I wanted to have a new focus on my life which would include writing, and, I decided, physical fitness. I wasn’t concerned about the number of my weight. I just wanted to feel better. So, I started. I would use the elliptical in my complex three days a week and walk the other two days. At first, I could only do 15-20 minutes before I had to quit because of being out-of-breath. But, I persisted. September passed. So did October and November. Then, I noticed I was feeling better physically. My clothes were looser too. It was a good feeling.

We had gotten to the months though where my depression usually kicked me in the teeth. December and January. I was going through the stages of having an empty nest and everything that went with it. I felt as grey as the clouds in this picture. I’m smiling in the picture, but there were many times that I cried. I felt like my efforts weren’t getting me anywhere and asked myself how anyone else could possibly want me around when I wasn’t even sure I liked myself. But, I persisted. I wrote every day even if it was just three pages in my journal. I worked out on the elliptical three days a week and walked the other days. My whole outlook swung from feeling really good to really sad. That’s what depression does.

The months flowed forward, and spring came to my part of the world. I noticed I could walk wherever I wanted in our complex, and I wouldn’t get tired. I was able to buy clothes in a smaller size, and my face looked thinner. I did my first 5K in March. I was really proud of that one. I also went to my first writers’ conference and met some neat people. I felt like I was making progress though I hadn’t sold any of my writing yet.

There are some anniversaries in the spring though that bring sadness to my household. It’s hard to remain positive when other people are sad which meant I continued to flip-flop. There would be days I would feel great, and there would be other days where I wondered how I could possibly be good company for anyone else since I felt so rotten about myself. That’s what having mental health issues does for you. But, I persisted. I kept working out. I kept writing. And I kept talking to someone when I needed to.

The beginning of May came, and my oldest graduated from college. The bad holidays came and went, and we settled into summer. I started hearing rumors about this year’s Honduras team, and I was sad and jealous. I knew there wouldn’t be an opportunity to go this year because of some financial constraints from the spring. I was also still trying to figure out where I fit in as I negotiated this new life of mine.

But then, yesterday rolled around, and I saw the status. I looked at my picture from last year, and one that was taken last week. I have come a long way. My friend told me I should plan to go next year, and I’ve set that as a goal for myself. God has a place for me in this life, and though I might not know all of it yet, I know He’ll be with me through it all!

God bless you!

Thoughts and Meanderings

I have a number of titles for this post swirling around in my head, but since I can’t zero in on one, I thought I’d start writing and see where the words took me. It’s Monday, the day after what we consider to be the Christian Sabbath, and I find myself still processing what was said yesterday and regaining the energy I expended from being around so many people. It’s almost like the Sabbath is happening for me today instead of yesterday. At least, that’s when calmness and quiet invade my soul, and I feel like I’m truly able to rest which is what the word sabbath actually means.

Why is that though? Why do I feel like I truly don’t rest on Sundays when that is the day we’re supposed to rest? By the way, before I start, let me say I’m in utter admiration of all the people who work in our churches on Sundays. Those who preach sermons, those who take care of our children, even all who volunteer to make our times of worshipping our Lord and Savior the best they can be. I hope and pray that these people find times of rest and relaxation through what they do on Sundays or at other times during the week.

But this post is about why I, at times, feel like the Sabbath Day is not a day of rest for me. First, it’s the whole matter of getting up, going to church, and seeing other people. It takes a lot of energy for me to “perform” and “pretend”. We’re not ourselves when we’re at church much as we might want to be. Think about it and be honest. Do you tuck away your burdens and your heartaches when you go to church? Most of us do because of fears of judgment and rejection. Even when there is a time for taking prayer requests, people will usually only mention people who are sick or in the hospital about to have surgery. It can be exhausting to navigate through all of it.

So, that’s one reason I feel like Sunday is not a day of Sabbath rest for me. Another is the length of time it takes for me to process what was said–during Sunday School and during worship time. Every speaker usually has something worthwhile to say, but I need to listen carefully and internalize it before it becomes a part of me which can take awhile. Even, this afternoon, more than twenty-four hours later, I’m still processing what Jesus said in Luke 11:13 about how our Father wants to give us even more than we give our own children–an apt illustration of how God is our Father.

Finally, Sunday has the potential of not being a true Sabbath for me because of my confusion over my faith and the conversations I have with Jesus in my head and what “living in community” really means. It’s a challenge. Everyone is more comfortable in their own friend group and is not willing to reach out to the people who are different. I try, and then I watch, and it seems like nothing has changed. The church looks just like the world, and it’s discouraging. And, when I’m discouraged, I get tired. It’s a vicious cycle.

I don’t have any solutions to this yet. I’m sure I’ll be working through it until the day I die. But, I do feel more rested today, and I have more of an understanding. Maybe I can use the Sabbath rest I get today to try again next Sunday. Thanks for listening to my thoughts and meanderings. Feel free to share yours in the comments.

God bless you all!

 

 

Holding Space for Grief

I’ve been reading the book Inspired by Rachel Held Evans, and it has validated a lot of my own ideas about my faith and how I view Jesus, the one I call my Lord and Savior. I was inspired to start it (pun not intended) when I heard of her unexpected death last month at the age of 37. I haven’t finished it yet, but I wanted to speak to one of the topics today as I have a lot of experience with it.

So, holding space for grief. Over the past few years, I’ve learned about lament and about how many of the Psalms in Scripture are psalms of lament. In them, God is cursed, wrestled with, complained to, and doubted. It was almost a relief for me to see the words in black and white and see that they matched the thoughts that were in my head. Evans provided a few examples I want to mention.

From Psalm 139:19-22:

“If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.”

Or from Psalm 109:9-12:

“May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.”

Not quite the words people usually share from Scripture. Right?

But, I find I must quote them if only to bring to light a major problem in the American church and some hypocrisy in my own life. There is a lack of lament in the American church. There is no “holding space” for those in grief. The nearest we come to it is individual counseling with church staff members or with trusted friends. We all suffer from the heaviest of burdens, but we refuse to lament with each other. We just pretend that everything is okay. Evans had this to say which says it better than I could. “That American tendency toward triumphalism, of optimism rooted in success, money, and privilege, will infect and sap of substance any faith community that has lost its capacity for “holding space” for those in grief.” (pg. 110, Inspired, Rachel Held Evans) No one is willing to sit with people in their pain without judging or offering solutions. They don’t want to share their pain either because they are afraid of being judged. This is a conundrum I’m not sure how to navigate, but I see it as a problem we, in the church, need to talk about. The comment I quoted also reflects how we choose our leaders. Because there is a veneer over their appearance in which none of their burdens are seen, we choose them thinking they are effective leaders. But then, we don’t allow them to lament or lament to them, and the cycle starts all over again

These words have resulted in another conundrum in my own life, one which I’m not proud of. There are many times I don’t feel seen in my faith community or in my life. There was even one time I was told to “go away” by someone in my faith community. As you can imagine, that comment made me feel like garbage. But, it brought me to a conclusion. I want to be important, to be an influence too. I want to be noticed and to have friends. Isn’t that what being a faith community is all about? Isn’t that the definition of community? I believe we should recognize ALL of those in our faith communities whether they are leaders or not.  But, it also made me ashamed. It made me think my wanting to be an influence was not coming from the purest of motives, that I was letting Satan influence me.

But, Jesus clarified my thoughts and reminded me of something. There’s nothing wrong in wanting to be an influence for Him. He reminded me I probably wouldn’t have done the reading I’ve done if I’d been more of a “person of influence” or “leader” in my faith community. My heart wouldn’t have been open to the changes it has undergone, and I wouldn’t have been willing to explore the concept of lament or to challenge the status quo either. He wanted me to be open to His voice.

Let me leave you with another quote by Evans to consider. “Life is full of the sort of joys and sorrows that don’t resolve neatly in a major key. God knows that. The Bible knows that. Why don’t we?” (pg. 111, Inspired, Rachel Held Evans)

God bless you all today!

The Tension of Striving

I’ve been thinking about this lately. Striving, striving, and striving again with my writing. Getting rejected and being knocked down by said rejection. Thinking I had nothing to contribute because I was so different. Getting back up and trying again. Wondering if I was where God wanted me.

These are all things that have created this tension within me and, I’m pretty sure, within all of us who are creatives. This brings me to a question. How can I create from a settled place? Does there always have to be tension, or can I actually feel settled as I create? This place would say I’m going to keep trying no matter what, but it would also say the writing, just the writing, is what matters in the grand scheme of things. Not the achievements that could come, not the goals that could be reached, just the writing.

For me, I have figured out I need three things to feel settled as I write so I can strive from the best place. The first of these is my writing life itself. Octavia E. Butler had this to say about writing. “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking its good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence. So, persistence is important in staying settled. I also like this quote by Anne Frank. “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Writing also helps my courage. That’s another reason to keep doing it. Finally, one of my favorite quotes by Virginia Woolf leads into my second thing. “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” This is truth for me, so much truth.

This also leads to the second thing I need to be settled with in order to write from my best place. My life. That’s it, plain and simple. I might not ever have any family or friends that read my writing or encourage me with it. I might always be considered too strange to contribute to anything or anyone else. There might not be people who want to be my friends because they don’t like who I am and wish I would be different. But, I can’t be different. I can only be the way God made me, and that needs to be enough.  Enough for the settling and enough for the striving.

Finally, I need to be settled with my faith in order to be at the place where I can strive with my writing. I’ve spent a long time denying who I am–not in the blogosphere, but in the real world. I want to be accepted in my community (Who doesn’t?) so I pretend to like things I really don’t and don’t talk about things I do like. It’s a conundrum. We try to fit in when we’re not made to fit in. We’re made to stand apart and reflect the love of our God who made us. As it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus died on the cross for all of us, and for me, when I’m settled in this truth, I can strive and I can write with my truest self.

Praying for all of us to have success in the tension of striving!

Overcoming

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about being at a stalemate (http://thrivingingrace.com/stalemate/) and not thinking I had the talent or will to move forward. It seemed to me that the approach I had taken with my writing was too general, and no one would ever read what I had written, not strangers and not even people I knew. It was a frustrating place to be in since writing was the only place I felt like I could clearly communicate. My spoken words were not easily understood, and I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. I wasn’t sure where to go from this hard place.

For several reasons, I still feel like I don’t fit into real-world groups or situations, but I figured out I had been more specific with my writing than I had thought. I’m still asking myself how I got to this point, how my confidence was renewed. It was simple really, and something I would heartily recommend to anyone who has the funds for it. I went through what turned out to be a life/ writing coaching session. Let me outline how it came about. One day, I was scrolling through Facebook, and I saw a post in one of my writing groups. It was from someone who was doing research on creativity. She was asking that people complete a questionnaire and participate in a phone call with her. It sounded pretty simple so I decided to give it a whirl. I completed the questionnaire and then emailed her to set up a time to talk. It took us a bit to find a good time but then we decided to do our call this past Saturday.

I got up Saturday morning excited, but a little nervous. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. She put me at ease immediately. We were both moms. In fact, one of her children was the same age as one of mine. We talked about the different parts of the world we lived in–She lives in Spain, and I live in the southeastern United States. Finally, we started talking about writing. I shared my desire to help people with my words. I shared how writing had helped me with some dark moments from my past. And I shared how I had developed my writing routine over the past few years and especially over this past year as my younger son started his post-high school career. She had me do an imagination exercise of where I would like to be in three years. The conversation was fun. We laughed, and I felt like we made a real connection.

Then, she asked the question that brought me out of my stalemate. She asked why my answers to the questionnaire had been so different from the conversation we had been having. I had to think for a second. I explained about the stalemate I had been in and how I was feeling lost about my prospects of going any further with my writing. Then, a word came to mind. It reminded me of the words about having a theme I had read from author K. M. Weiland. I knew what the theme to all my writing was now. Everything I had written so far had been about overcoming. I write about other people overcoming things I wish I could overcome. I write about gaining and losing courage and then gaining it again. I write about my faith and my writing and the challenges I face as an introvert. I write about my God who overcomes and my Jesus who overcame His death on the cross to become my Lord and Savior.

So, my writing is more specific than I thought. It has a theme and a purpose, and I can see a way forward now. I am so grateful for this conversation with someone who gets me as a writer and as a person of faith. She also reminded me Jesus shared stories during his ministry. I had always wondered how life coaching worked and now, I know. My wish for all of you who are creatives is to have that friend, that person in your life who can have that conversation with you.

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

Permission to Feel

I dreaded the days leading up to this Mother’s Day. It’s always been a hard day for me because of my relationship with my own mother, but I made it more difficult last year by thinking my permission to feel my own feelings had been yanked from me. It was not really yanked; it was just how I felt.

God gave us feelings when He made us. Feelings that we, in the church, have classified as good feelings and bad feelings. When we come together to worship, it’s okay to have the good feelings. The bad feelings, not so much. Or maybe I should say that people are uncomfortable with bad feelings. I know I have been in the past.

But, as I’ve gotten older and experienced more of life, I’ve realized some things about myself. First of all, I feel deeply perhaps more deeply than other people, and it’s gotten me into trouble more times than I can count over the years. Second, I suffer from a mental illness that makes these deep feelings even more prominent. It tells me that my feelings are wrong even when they’re not, and I have to jump through hoops to figure out how to reconcile my feelings with my faith. Finally, I battle with realizing my worth to my Lord and Savior and to the people around me. I have a hard time knowing what feelings are true and what feelings are not as I seek to live my life as His disciple.

So, this past year has been a tough one for me as I’ve sought to figure out how I was supposed to feel in the different situations that came up in my life and what would be God-honoring as I negotiated my way through it all. When things went well and when I had what I considered to be good feelings, I didn’t struggle, and those were the good times. But, as we all know, the good times never last and are always interspersed with bad feelings. Those were tough times for me especially when I felt I didn’t have God’s permission to have the feelings I had. I felt alone and ashamed and felt like I had nothing to offer to God, to others, or to myself.

During those times though, I was also studying, praying, writing, and talking through my feelings. It was like a yo-yo. Sometimes, I felt God’s presence through all I was doing, and the times would be good. And then, there were the other times when there was silence. I felt like I never knew what was okay and what wasn’t since I couldn’t sense God’s presence and felt like I had to model what I was seeing in other Christians.

I know that was a mistake now which brings my story of this past year up to yesterday morning. I’ve studied and written about Scriptures where the writers were honest with God about their feelings. Scriptures such as Job 3:25-26. “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Or Psalm 109:6-9. “Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand. When he is tried, let him be found guilty and may his prayers condemn him. May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership, May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.” For some reason though, I had it in my mind that those “bad feelings” were only okay for writers of Scripture and not for me.

But, yesterday…yesterday, it came together for me in a way it hasn’t before. From verses used in Sunday School to verses used during the sermon to a phrase used that has become the title to today’s post, God showed me I had done something to myself He had not ordained. It’s okay to feel whatever I need to feel whether it’s a good feeling or a bad feeling. I had His permission. There was even a present for me, a deep thinker, in the verses used, Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Yay! A deep thinker in Scripture. Someone like me. It was a moment I will always treasure.

God made me just the way I am for a reason, and I’m gonna live into it as much as I possibly can. I won’t be ashamed of my feelings anymore. Thank you, Jesus, for helping me forgive myself and for giving me permission to feel. May we all feel that from you today!

God bless you all!

Stalemate

It’s taken forever to get this post up between everything I’ve had going on and website issues. I’m hoping my musings about where I am can help some of you, or maybe you have suggestions for me. Anyway, here goes.

Last week, something happened that befuddled and bewildered me. It made me unable to think of anything  I could write for this blog. It also made me stop and take stock with where I thought I was heading with this “empty nest” life of mine. And it has now thrown me into a stalemate.

What could be that major? What would make me stop pushing and living into this new life? To understand it, I would need to go back to the inciting event. (See, I do understand how to use literary terms correctly. 🙂 ) I turned in a writing piece for a contest. Now, some might think this post is a piece about rejection and stop reading here. It’s not. I understand about rejection and know that I will have many, many writing pieces rejected before I “make it.” No, this is something else, another step past rejection, which has thrown me into this stalemate.

If someone is a writer, they know or should know the steps to take when either submitting a writing piece for a contest or for the possibility of purchase by a magazine or publishing company. They follow the guidelines for what the story or writing piece should be about. (example–don’t submit a romantic story if the magazine wants science fiction stories), and they follow the guidelines on how to submit the story. (include the story in an email or attachment, type of font, etc., etc.) I did all this when I submitted my writing piece for the contest. I followed the instructions on what to write and how to submit my piece. I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t win, but I also knew I’d never win if I didn’t try.

So, I submitted the piece last week. I was very surprised to get a response back not ten minutes later saying my essay would not even be considered for the contest. I was mortified. Apparently, what I had thought was an appropriate topic meeting their specifications was, in fact, not an appropriate topic. It was political correctness at its finest.

But, that brought me to these questions. How am I ever going to know if I interpreted something correctly? Is this where the trying, trying, and more trying come into play? Is interpreting something incorrectly another form of rejection? The uncertainty is almost enough to make me want to put down my pen for good.

If that wasn’t enough, I also have to add in the question of what topics to write about. I think this is what has actually brought me to my stalemate. Do I want to focus on a particular genre or type of writing with the sole goal of getting published? Or do I want to write what’s on my heart so people can see the passion and courage behind my words? I know this question should be easy. I should write the words and stories that show my courage, passion, and heart. Author Jeff Goins posted some questions I’m also considering. “What kind of artist do I want to be? What kind of writing do I want to do? What kind of writer am I? Who am I really, and how can this work illustrate that?” These are good questions, helpful questions, and I’m working through them.

Praying for all of us as we work through the stalemates in our lives.

God bless you!