Writing and Still Loving God

This blog is part of a link-up with the Writers Unite group (a Facebook writing group I’m apart of) answering the questions: How does faith influence your art? What role does it play? Does your faith have implications in what you write? You can read more answers to these questions this week by searching the Twitter hashtag #faithartlife.

God. Jesus. Christianity. Discipleship. Reaching the world.

Writing. Publishing. Blogging. Sharing my words to the world.

Two separate thoughts, two completely differing ideas…In my mind at least. For about 13 years now I’ve been “born again” believer. I’ve grown up in the Christian faith but it wasn’t until college that I made the decision to follow Christ based on my own knowledge of Him and not my parents/grandparents. So for about 13 years I’ve been wrestling with this faith, trying to understand it better and Him better and in the midst of that, trying to understand me better. I have had many struggles, a few mountains, several valleys, curves in the road, pitfalls, potholes and have fallen more times than I care to admit. But I will gladly share in the mountain top experiences and the hearing from God times. But I digress.

So during most of my Christian walk I believed (not consciously) that my Christianity was separate from my dreams. More honestly, I believed that I needed to keep these things separate. Why? Because God wanted everything from me, my sins AND my dreams. This was preached to me-because its true. So many times were spent on the altar giving God my everything. I said “God I give you everything, my sins, my hopes, my desires, my dreams.” I wrote it on a piece of paper “I want to be a writer” and laid it upon the altar. I wanted to be a good, no great Christian. I wanted to not only go to heaven but to be a faithful witness here on earth. I wanted to be an empty vessel to be used by God.

As you can imagine this left me empty.

What wasn’t as clear was: What do I do now? So I waited (on God but unfortunately more on man) for an answer. So I started back filling those empty spaces with stuff, hence the potholes and pitfalls. What I didn’t learn until much, much later (within the past couple of years) was that God wanted to refill those spaces with the things that I gave Him.

He didn’t want to take my desires and dreams. He wanted (still wants) me to offer these things to Him, as a “living sacrifice” so that in turn He can use my gifts and talents and dreams to His glory. WOW O_O (I really just got ministered to)

God is not a mean dad that takes a good thing and replaces it with a bad. Yes, I was one of the ones that was terribly afraid that God would call me to something I hated, or that was ill-fitting for me. But what good of a messenger would I be if He did that? How would that be beneficial to either one of us? I’ve seen what’s it like when someone is outside of their calling, it’s not pretty.

So I want to write, and act, and direct. And I’ve been hiding those facts, thinking that if I kept it secret then no one, especially God, could take it from me. But here I am not writing, not acting, not directing, while all the time God has been patiently waiting. Saying, “Stephanie, sweetheart, I want to help you achieve your dreams. I’m sorry for the ones that didn’t believe in you. I’m sorry for the ones that laughed. I want to see you prosper but I’m going to do it my way. Your way may get you a partial success but My way will get you a place in My plan and a seat in My kingdom. Lets do this together. You don’t have to fear because I got your back and your front. Matter of fact, My spirit surrounds you. Together we will go through the rocky places
and through the desert lands and I will catch you when you fall. And when it’s dark and you feel lonely, you will never be alone. I will always be with you. Trust me with your heart.”

Ok Lord.

How do you connect your life with your faith and your art? Do you consider these in the same conversation?

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Happy New Year!

2013.  We made it!  Those Mayans were just full of themselves.  I wasn’t worried, I swear.  I knew I would be able to celebrate another birthday (Dec. 29) and I did.

So it’s 12 days into the New Year and I thought, “I haven’t written a blog post since November.”  I haven’t even wrote and update on my NaNoWriMo progress.  I won!!  That means I wrote 50,000 words to a novel (50,013 to be exact) .  What!  Yes, and trust me that was a huge feat for me.  I’ve never been so proud of myself.  Then somewhere in the middle of December I remembered, I didn’t finish the novel.  oops!  So of Course my inner critic have  been letting me have it.  I’m not really a winner because I didn’t finish the book and I’m not acting like I ever will.

So that’s been happening.

But I decided not to let it ruin my holidays.  I had time with the family, took pictures, received surprising and wonderful gifts and just relaxed.  I celebrated being 1 year older (blah) and celebrated seeing another year pass (I made it!).  Then back to work.

Now, on the 12th of January 2013, I’m tired, already.  I’m ready for a vacation.  Like the week took I in December never happened.  I’m waiting for the next 3-day weekend (off the 21st, yes!) so I can rest.  If this is how it’s going to be, then it’s going to be a long year.  And I’m starting off wrong, I’m dreading writing again.

“But it’s a New Year and a New Start!”  That’s what the Sunny Sunshine part of me is screaming.  The Cynic, the dark and twisty (shout out to Grey’s) side of me is softly saying “You will never change.  This will be yet another wasted year and your dreams won’t ever be realized.”

Why is the Cynic, who speaks softly, 100 times louder than the Sunny Sunshine?

2013.

I’ve made it another year.  I’m proud and blessed for that.  But this year, I have to kill the Cynic.  She’s strong and have a passion to live.  But she has to die, or at least lose her voice.  She fights back when I try to kill her and she has a powerful punch.  Her right hook will leave me avoiding  my computer for days.  And she is best friends with the Critic.  Together they are far worse than the mean girls in High school.  They are dream-killers.  Yet, the Critic can be a ok chick when she is alone and constructive.

Not this year though.  Although I’m not Sunny Sunshine (I hate her in the mornings, especially when she wakes me up before 5am), I need Sunny to keep me going.  She is encouraging, life-affirming, excited, and also passionate about her life.  And she likes to shout.  And use all caps.  She is annoying as heck but I need  her on this path.  She shouts, “YOU CAN DO IT!”  “YOU’RE A STAR!”  “YOU ARE PRETTY AND CAN WRITE!”  Thanks Sunny!  I do feel pretty today.

I don’t know what adventures that God has for me, or what bumps, hills or curves the road might take but I know that this year will be different because I’m striving to be different.

Are you doing New Year’s resolutions?  Are you worried that things won’t change?   How do you quiet you inner cynic?

15,000 to Go

So this will be a quick post.

I only have 15,000 words left to go to be a WINNER at NaNoWriMo.  Just 15,000 words left.  So far I have written over 35,000 words.  So why do 15,000 feel like the biggest mountain I have ever seen?

I’m right there.  So close to the finish line.  Roughly 3,000 words a day and I’m through.  HELP ME!

I feel like chucking it all and going to bed.  I’m worn down, tired and out of ideas.  But it’s only 15,000 words.  At least that what I keep telling myself.

So this post will be short.  I have to get back.  I have to write at least 3,000 today.  Then I’ll let  tomorrow worry about itself and get on finishing my goal for tonight.

Have you ever finished a Goal?  Did the finish line seem far away?  How do you motivate yourself to keep going?

Grrrrr! A writer’s Love/Hate relationship with Writing

So if you don’t know, I’m doing the NaNoWriMo this month.  You can read about it here.  But I’ve been wondering the past few days do other writers have this love/hate thing going on with writing.  Is it just me?  Am I the only one that is pulling her hair out everyday?  (Not literally, of course…not yet.)

It’s like everyday the same thing happens: I turn on the spigot ready for the flow to rush out.  Of course it’s slow at first and a little cold.  Then it gradually warms up and the pressure starts to grow.  Then all of sudden, its rushing out, seeming to never stop.  Words tumble out and thoughts open up and the story takes on a life of it own.  Then I slowly turn the spigot back to off, satisfied with my daily contribution to the creative.  I’m so excited that evening and I lay down, proud of myself.  Then I wake up the next day, dreading the time ahead when I have to write again.

What if yesterday was a fluke?  What if I’ve used all the words I can?  What If I’ve done all this work and I truly suck?

Everyday, like clockwork the same thing happens.  And 12 days in you think I would be used to it.  Well I’m not.  And I’m just as intimidated today as I was yesterday, and 2 days ago, and a week ago, and on day 1.

I wish the questions would stop.  I wish the constant doubting  myself would stop.  I wish this was a lot easier.

But

I refuse to give up.  So today I didn’t write as many words as yesterday, I still write.  So today I wrote a blog post instead of words to my novel, I still write.  So today, I ran out of words and all I can write is “all work and no play makes Stephanie a dull girl”, I still write.

I write for my mother, who always wanted to write a novel and who I still believe will one day.  I write for my great-grandmother, who wrote two of the most beautiful poems that I’ve ever read but mot many people have.  I write for my younger cousins who I watch growing into beautiful young woman and I want them to fulfill their dreams.  And I write for myself, because without it, I don’t know who I would be.

Are you a writer that struggles with trying to write?  How do you encourage yourself to write?  Why do you write in the first place?

Getting Over the Hump

7298.  That’s how many words I written for NaNoWriMo. 7298. That’s the most words that I’ve written for any of the novels that I have planned on writing in the past.  Heck, 1 was more words than I’ve ever written, but I digress.  Now I feel stuck.   I feel unmotivated and just plain frozen.  I  feel like I have written myself to a brick wall and I have no idea how to get over it, around it or under it.  It’s just here tormenting me.  What’s worse is that it’s not the blank page that is intimidating me, it the next paragraph.

7298.

That’s a lot of words for some people.  For someone who is going for 50,000 it’s a drop in the bucket.  I’m ready to give up.  I’m always ready to give up.  That’s something I do well.  I just stop.

I need a new path.  I new a new action.

If stopping in the middle is an action, I do that often.  I stop working out.  I stop a diet.  I stop a new hobby.  I can do that without blinking.  I need a new way of doing things.  I need to go.

This book is more than just a hobby or diet or exercise routine.  This is my dream.  It’s a desire that I’ve been harboring for years now.  I’ve imagine  becoming a writer for years and now I’m stepping out on that and the fear it pushing back.  Hard.   The fear is telling my I can’t do this.  The fear is telling me it’s not worth it.  The fear is telling  me that I don’t have the talent/idea to finish this book.  The fear is telling me to STOP.

I can’t do that with this thing.  I can’t sabotage this goal.  This goal is my life.  I can’t let this dream die, without my dreams I am nothing. I can’t be nothing.  I have to keep going even if at the end of 50,000 words I have nothing but crap.  I’ll have one thing, I would have finished.

Well let me get back to it.

Have you ever quit anything?  Are you currently pursuing your dreams?  Have you faced any difficulties while pursuing you dream?

NaNoWriMo 2012

Ok, November 1.  A day I’ve been excitedly dreading all year.  My first time participating in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.  Yeah!  I woke up early in anticipation of writing (or from a bad dream-the jury’s still out) And 45 minutes in and I have yet to write.  I have checked email, Facebook, read about NaNoWriMo, added the word-count widget, changed my theme and completely stalled.  Fun times!  I even know what novel I want to write but fear reared its ugly head and now I’m finding it hard to start.  Fear.  Scared.  Really cute to have these feelings the day AFTER Halloween.  That’s me though.

So, now I have to start work.  An hour wasted procrastinating.  Well, let me tell you, this is why I signed up for the NaNoWriMo.  I needed to hold myself accountable (and publicly have others do the same) so that I would do it.  Some of these book ideas I have  had for years.  The one that I’ll be writing this month I’ve been mulling around for 2 years at least.  I can’t sit back and wait for life to happen to me anymore.  I have big dream about getting a book deal, getting one the NY Times best-selling list, making movies, etc.  Nice dreams but where is the book?

NO more excuses! I’m good at excuses, explanations, stall tactics and the like.  NO MORE, I say.  Here I go…Moving Forward.  By the end of November, my goal is 50,000 words written.  It all starts with just one.

The

Have you ever participated in a writing challenge? Any advice? Please?

Not Letting “Others” tell you how to Play

 

Next to writing, watching TV would be the hobby I would love to turn into a career.  How is that possible?  I don’t know but it sure would be nice.  So it would be safe to say that I watch a lot of TV.  One of my favorite wind-down to bed show is Friends.  And of course I jumped on the Friends bandwagon late.  Three years after the final episode, late but I do enjoy the show now.  So it, like many of my other favorite things, has given me inspiration in the strangest ways.

Recently, after attending the Quitter Conference, I watched the episode “The One with the Dollhouse“.  In this episode, Monica inherits a dollhouse.  Phoebe comes over to play with her and brings with her a giant dog, a dinosaur and a ghost.  With each Item, Monica has objections that make sense.  The dog is too big, there were no such things as dinosaurs during this time, and ghosts just don’t exist.  Well, Phoebe has a rebuttal to each of these.  The house was built on a nuclear waste site that’s why the dog is so big and it also was built on an Indian burial ground and that’s why there are ghosts.  And the barking dinosaurs was just fun.  Monica still wouldn’t let Phoebe play in “the house with no imagination”.  So instead of playing Monica’s way, Phoebe built her own dollhouse.  A house that included a slide, aromatherapy room, bubbles and a licorice room.  So Phoebe’s house was way more fun to play with than Monica’s.

So what can you possible get out of this episode? (you might ask me this) A lot!  Thoughts of being a kid started forming in my head.  I remembered playing games, and getting mad when others wouldn’t let me play my way.  Arguments would ensue when dolls weren’t handled the way they should or if a bike was ridden to far or a dress-up session went a way that the “my house, my rules-kid” didn’t want it to go.  And even now as adults we find ourselves conforming to the way of the world.  We aren’t imaginative in our jobs, we squash our innovative ideas because others might laugh…We stop dreaming. I know this because I have seen it too often in others, I have seen it too often in myself.

Who told you that you had to play that way?  Who told you that you can’t bring the toys you want?  Who told you that a dinosaur didn’t belong in a Victorian house?

Somewhere along the road we stopped playing our own games.  We stopped making up our own rules and we let somebody else tell us how to play.  Well from one simple episode I learn a huge lesson:

Build your own house

You don’t like a new system at work?  Come up with a better one!  You don’t like the education you kids are receiving?  Be proactive, look for other schools or talk to your child’s teacher, involve other parents.  You are tired of not living your dream?  Start working on it, take small steps to working in your dream job.

We only have one life to live, so don’t let someone else tell you how to live yours.

Are you playing your own games?  Or are you letting someone else tell you how to play?  Do you get inspiration from the strangest places?

 

CBS WKBT News Anchor’s On-Air Response to Viewer Calling Her Fat (Oct. 2nd, 2012)

First of all, let me say that in the same/similar situation I wish to be half as graceful, dignified and strong as Jennifer Livingston was to her response of an internet bully. It is hard enough living in the public eye but to do so as a plus-sized woman is especially hard. Bravo to her for a well thought out statement. Bullying needs to end now.

What would your response have been? Do you think Jennifer Livingston handled the email appropriately?

Why This Blog is So Late

Procrastination.

Oh, you need further explanation.  Well, excuse me! Humph!  Plain and simple procrastination has stopped me from writing my first blog post. That’s it.

So that not enough for you…Dang!  Just get all up and in my business, why don’t you.

The deeper truth is that I had/have this huge fear of failing.  A kind of crippling fear that has caused me to procrastinate, put off and any other way you want to put it, writing.  I tried before but never gave myself the space to actually succeed because I shut it down after 2 posts.  I wrote 4 or 5 short stories then stopped. I have written out  outlines for at least 2 novels but never wrote out “chapter 1”.

So by not giving 100% I actually failed.  I have realized the fear that I have been so “triumphantly” avoiding all these years.  I haven’t consistently kept up with a blog.  I haven’t shared any of my short stories. I haven’t started writing that novel.

But what’s different?

Short answer: I’m tired.

The long answer: maybe I’ll explain here, on this blog, over time.

But what it boils down to is that I’m over killing my own dreams.  There are enough haters in the world that will do that.  I’m now a Dream Chaser!  I have now decided  that I can no longer be on the sidelines of my own life, I’m the Quarter-back, I’m the Main Character.  I’m the Captain of the vessel and I can’t continue to get mad that the ship is in Antarctica when it’s supposed to be in Spain.

How are you feeding your fears? What do you plan on doing to stop that?