Category: Thoughts (page 1 of 2)

Reality in Fiction: Contentment

I’ve had the idea for this post for months now. And finally it’s happening. I thought it would work well as part of a series. Probably posted monthly. I should be able to keep up with that. What? It’s not like I never have regularity and posting on time here. Just not often enough.

The series is going to focus how certain ideas play out in real life and books in general. I’d like to think it’s got a bt of writing advice, but non-readers should find it just as interesting. Unless you hate discovering the patterns  in most books which make it easier to predict things. (you know, the two leads will end up together if it it’s romance, the hero always wins, that slightly suspicious man is obviously evil unless he’s actually good.  Or on a deeper level you know that the protagonist is going to have to change in a certain way before he can succeed)

There are reasons things play out the same way in many stories. One of those reasons is because it’s real. Stories aren’t always like reality, but if they’re too far off in certain ways, they don’t work.

There’s a truth I’ve discovered that I think is one of the secrets to a good life. If you’re not content with what you have, you’ll never be happy however much you have. Or to look it from a less material perspective, if you’re waiting for things to change before you can be happy, it’s not going to happen. This is something that might be shown in a story, but certainly not every story. However there is a flipside, that I think subtly shows in many stories. It’s possible to be too content.

Yes, you can be too content. you can become complacent. Yes, you shouldn’t rest your happiness in things being a certain way, but sometimes things really do need to change. You must not be content to let evil go past. You must not just subsist even if it’s comfortable.

Just think of a story, any story. Is the protagonist completely happy with the way things are? Maybe they are. But do they stay that way for long? Of course they don’t. Something goes wrong and they’re forced to deal with it. If they were perfectly content to let things happen as they may, they would never get any where. They would be beaten before the fight even begun.

I’m terrible at pulling out examples because I know a lot more obscure stories than popular ones. But I’ll choose The Horse and His Boy. If Shasta had been content, passive, he never would have run away with Bree. He might not have listened at the door of the hut and known he was to be sold. And Bree, if he’d become complacent with his lot as a prisoner, he never would helped Shasta escape. Now you could say that to act differently was besides those characters natures, and you’d be correct. But that really is part of the point.

For another example I’ll pull out Truth by Molly Evangeline (aka Jaye L. Knight). Makilien, the protagonist lives in a little walled village no one ever leaves. She was drawn out by curiosity, but also by a sense that things should and could be better than they were.  She was not content to simply leave things as they were. (This isn’t the best example, because the other villagers were more afraid and down trodden than complacent, but I think it still works)

Now for an example of a passive character, Jane Bennet. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice twice I think and don’t feel all that familiar with the details of the story, but I would call Jane passive. Things happen to her. Mr. Bingley just gets dropped in her lap, so to speak, and when he’s taken away, Jane hardly does anything. She’s just content to let things be. She doesn’t grasp after anything. That’s why she isn’t the protagonist. Lizzie is. And Lizzie isn’t afraid to let people know when she’s not happy.

This isn’t to say you can’t have a protagonist who is content, or that they have to speak their mind. Just don’t let them be passive, and don’t you be passive either. Find your contentment and go change the world. That’s how to be happy. (part of it at least)

 

 

The Relativity of Age

Hello friends,

I have a short, musing post for you today. I’ve been thinking about growing up lately, because it’s my birthday about now. A slightly significant birthday. I’m having a party. I might share something more about it once it’s over.

I remember back when I was nine and mad a new friend. She was almost thirteen and quite mature. In my eyes she was almost too grown up, and I really didn’t have much in common. I played with her younger brothers instead.  (they tried to send me away, but being told she had lot’s of cool music really didn’t matter to nine-year-old me.) We did become friends though, and I figured out that thirteen was grown up. I thought that was when I’d be allowed to do various thing my older brothers did. (despite the fact they were older than that)

When I did turn thirteen, I didn’t feel very grown up at all. I didn’t want to be a teenager. But I did think sixteen (incidentally the age of my my friend) was quite grown up. But the same thing repeated when I was sixteen. I felt a little mature, but not very.

At eighteen and nineteen, I still felt that way. I wasn’t sure who I was. I was beginning to write, and had figured out some of what I wanted to do in life, but I wasn’t very confident. But it was around this time I started to look back. I had friends and brothers a number of years younger, and I had trouble believing how grown up I saw myself at their age. They’re just kids. How on earth would someone have a crush on a fifteen-year-old boy? It seemed ridiculous looking back.

Since then, I’ve started to see them as a little more grown up. I’ve been surprised by the insight-fullness of some pre-teens. I’ve mistaken people’s ages to be younger or older. I’ve had people get my age wrong. And from this I’ve come to a conclusion. Age might be an absolute things, but how it’s perceived and what it means is relative. It’s affected by your own age, the circumstances and personality of the person, and your own experiences.

I’ve got to a stage now, where I might say someone from three years younger than me to about five years older is about my age. If they’re  younger than me, I might forget their age, and group them with the fifteen year olds, but that group mostly consists of people who were fifteen two or three years ago. It’s hard to keep track when you only know people online.

As for myself, I do feel fairly comfortable with the age I am. I’ve realized that just because I’m not as far along in life as someone else, that doesn’t mean I’m not good at acting my age. I don’t need to act my age. I need to be the person God wants me to be.

Falling Through the Cracks

This is something I wrote a few months back to describe the way I was feeling. I thought someone else might find it encouraging. It’s not quite free poetic verse, but certainly not an essay or story.

Falling through the Cracks

Sometimes life can feel a little bit hard.

You don’t know where to belong.

Everyone else goes and does things with friends, but…

You feel you’ve fallen through the cracks of the social circles.

 

Sometimes it come from trying to extend yourself to much.

Bits of your life are so disparate that the cracks are inevitable.

But you keep trying to do everything and fall right through them.

 

Sometimes it’s your ambitions that have disappeared.

You had great plans and dreams, but they never quite happened.

They’ve fallen into the crevices between daily demands.

 

Sometimes it’s important day to day things that aren’t getting done.

A desk covered in papers, writing left till Friday;

Simple things like emailing a friend take forever to do.

They fall through the cracks of stupid distractions.

 

But the cracks can be mended. You can be pulled out.

There is a rescuer, a mender, a bridge.

Follow his ways, and you wont be lost;

There’ll be no more cracks to fall through.

 

Right now, I am feeling more on track than I was when I wrote this. I’ve made more friends, I’ve got some ideas of how to move towards bigger plans. I’m still struggling in the day to day, but the worst of the distractions are gone. The rest is just the competition or duties, writing, sewing, learning, and serving. It’s all stuff to be done.

 

Yep, this is random.

New chicken. She’s called Sylvia after Petra’s forgotten sister in Lady Dragon, Tela Du.

I decided to study this year…

This is a post that’s been a long time in the coming. I’ve re-written it, lost the rewrites and then changed it even more.It’s a personal post, not much about books, but I felt I needed to write it.

One of the things that has been on my mind a lot since the leadership course I did is my education. You should know that I was home educated and always have been. In the last two years my studies slowly stopped. I didn’t graduate as I believe we should always be learning. And I certainly have learned since then. I’ve been informally studying writing and I’ve been reading books. But I’ve been a little lazy with it.

That is going to change. During this course I was encouraged to go study at university by both lecturers and fellow attendees. I was a little surprised and somewhat resistant. I had never seriously considered the university path. I plan to be a mother, not a career woman and my parents have taught me how to learn all I want to know. Besides, I don’t know what to study. I’m interested in so many things.
But I promised I would give it serious thought. There were some good reasons given, counters to some of my objections. After much thought, research and prayer, I came to a decision. I should study. Since God has gifted me with a mind with the power of understanding some difficult and abstract concepts and well as the ability to remember random details that seem important (read: sound interesting to me at the time), I really ought to do something more with it. I shouldn’t let it stagnate or get too caught up in the imaginary world of my own fancies. So I am going to study. But not at university.

Yes, not at university. I have reasons for this. I did write out a long list of arguments, but it seemed to strong and I  wondering whether I really believed all of them myself. So I’ve made it shorter.

Firstly, studying at university isn’t going to get me closer to having a publishable book. It would sideline my writing for a few years. Also I’ve heard that an English degree can be one of the worst things for a writer and especially an editor. If there was some kind of in depth Christian fiction writing course I might think differently.

Another factor is that I don’t really like the university system and the way it’s becoming the default for most young people. Also I don’t want to be immersed in an ungodly environment in the way I would in a mainstream university. I want to reach out and help people, but asking the world to fill my mind with their ideas doesn’t seem like a good idea. I’d either have to stay silent on some of my convictions, or get into trouble for speaking my mind.

Degrees aren’t really worth as much as they used to be anyway. I was taught to teach myself and I’m
not worried too much about my lack of credentials. If I really had to go get myself a job I think there’s smarter ways of getting one.

I’m not this crazy though.

I have a streak of non-conformity and wanderlust. Maybe I look normal, but I do write fantasy books and daydream a lot.v Anyway if I could afford university up front, I’d probably do missions work or travel or just help out at a lot of camps and conferences instead.

Lastly, I’m not so desperate to get married that I’d go to university just to meet people. This might not appear to be worth mentioning, but I was given that as one reason to do it so… we’ll I’m not so it doesn’t matter. Going other places for that purpose however…

Now you’re probably all wondering how studying on my own works. Firstly, accountability. I’m sharing my goals here so that I can’t be lazy about them. I’ll be sharing parts of my work as well. The plan is to have it slightly separated from the rest of the website. I don’t want to subject anyone to watching my education if they’re not interested.

So here is what I’m going to be studying:

  1. Biblical Greek. This is a vague idea I’ve had for just over a year. It’s a couple of months since it became serious and a few weeks since I made a start. I bought the Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, Workbook, and Flashcards by William D. Mounce. I’ll be going through the course on  billmounce.com along with some material from NTGreek in Session. (The basic letters are fascinating, by the way)
  2. I will be doing cultural studies. Basically I’ll pick a country or people group, study them for a couple of months and write up something about my findings. I’m not sure what the time frame for that will be, but because I have several interruptions coming up in the next few months and this is going to take a little settling into, I’ll give myself until the end of May to do my first study which will be on Myanmar/Burma.
  3. Music appreciation. I’m not sure that I’ll do this much, but I do like listening to most of the great composers and some modern compositions. That won’t be stopping.
  4. Theology, Philosophy, Apologetics and History. This will be through reading and occasionally writing up my thoughts. It will be wide branching, going into politics and biographies well as the aforementioned subjects.. Basically a lot of nonfiction of various sorts. I’ve been given a long list of books and some instruction on reading. Also my dad has a large collection of books. I’ll be reading some of them. Current books are The Institutes of Biblical Law and The Insanity of God. (In the time I’ve been writing this, I listened to all of Mere Christianity.)
  5. Conferences and Seminars. If there’s an opportunity to listen to great speakers and interact with people of like minds, I’ll take it.
  6. Online Courses. I’m taking the Theme Mastery course by Kingdom Pen and something called User Experience for the Web on Open2Study. The Theme Mastery course has been amazing for the first ten lessons. The other not so much, but it can’t hurt.
  7. Other reading. I’ll be reading a variety of fiction, both modern and classic, as literature and cultural study. It’s not going be as big an intake as I’ve had in the past, but I hope to get more out of it.
And that’s about it. Congratulations for making it to the bottom. It might look like a lot and I admit to feeling a little overwhelmed. But if I get my time under better control, it shouldn’t take away from my writing and editing much. Especially since I’ve been a bit lazy about it lately.
I just want to add a special thank you to my fellow CHQ students. I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for you. It might not be the effect you expected, but you have been a great help to me. I may have learned a little Greek anyway, but I doubt I would have bought the books that I did. Thank you.

Yes, I Want to Change the World

There, I said I’d have another post this week. I’m hoping it’ll be a little different to most of the blog posts I’ve seen these last couple of days. January is in every second title. If I was doing that it would be late anyway. It’s February in Australia. Shortest month in the year. So I had better get onto it.

I’m much better at dreaming about the future than keeping records of the past. But mostly just dreaming, no planning. And I’ve been learning that to lead people anywhere you need to know where specifically that is and be able to look back to where you came from. I’m not sure I’m a leader, but as I said in the title, I do want to change the world.

Actually, I’ll rephrase that. I want the world to be changed. I want it to become more conformed to God and I want to be a tool for him to use. Specifically I want to touch people’s hearts and help them to the see the truth. I want to do this through my writing, and with everything else I’m called to.

Maybe it’s not a good idea to state outright what I’m trying to do. People might catch on and avoid my writing, but it helps me to write about it. Besides, one author might change the direction of a few people’s lives, but not the whole culture. There needs to be many of us. I want to be working alongside others. Alongside you. Writer or not, God can use you to make a difference.

How do we do this? What am I specifically doing? I don’t know. The course I did last week strengthened the call I felt to do something. It brought forward some of the issues in our culture that ust be grappled with. I gained a clearer way of thinking about some issues, a completely new understanding of others, and many ideas to incorporate into the worlds of my stories. It gave me a direction for learning more, told me who God was and who I was. But it didn’t tell me what to do or even what to think.

About 1% of my handwritten notes from last week.

At the simplest level, I must be faithful to whatever God has placed in front of me, I must be willing to take opportunities he offers, and most of all I must trust in him and keep close to his teachings whatever I do. After that there are the ideas I have been given for stories, the imagination I have been given, the unique circumstances that give me my particular view of the world (as opposed to all the other unique views). I must use those gifts and I must do it to the best of my ability. Our God is not a God of mediocrity. He does everything perfectly.

I do have a basic plan for what I wish to do with my writing though. I am attempting to shed the light of the gospel on certain circumstances, to provide examples of both good and bad actions, to use the grandeur of a made up story to bring clarity to the simple, but difficult issues of life. I want to reflect the way God made this world to work, and to show the goodness of what God has revealed to us.

I am also trying to show the glory of God in his creation, to evoke a beauty we can forget to notice in the world. The life of a forest over the brilliant depths of a gorge, The sweetness of birds singing by a trickling brook, and the devotion of a mother to a child. I can picture them now, a dark haired  woman looking down on a child in her arms. There is a slight expression of weariness in her face, but such a glowing look of joy as well. The baby sleeps, its little face scrunched up in peace and happiness.

I will also have to show the flip side of that. The horrors of destruction, the anguish of the death of one beloved, the remorse of a wrongly made choice. I cannot show the glories of perfection without contrasting the utter darkness we fallen humans can create. I won’t focus on it, I might not even get a close look, but I cannot try to lessen it, or shut it out. I must be honest.

And that is my plan for changing lives through my writing. It’s probably not the same as yours. You might never write for the public. You might think my ideas are crazy. But please, whatever your thoughts are, always be ready for God to use you. Learn new skills, try to do everything with excellence, be aware of what is going on in the world, most of all keep close to God. And maybe we’ll be changing the world together.

I’m a [Insert a dozen identity labels here]

Happy New Year everyone! I’m hoping 2017 will be an even better year than 2016, which was a pretty good year for me. I’ve got a bunch of changes happening with my writing and blog which I’ll tell you about over the next few weeks. And now on with some ramblings about my own thoughts.

Identity is a funny thing. There’s so many ways we say who we are. Simple ones, such as our names, hometown, or ethnic background. Complications of half a dozen fandoms and obscure references.

We want to know who we are to feel that we are known and loved. Or at least loved. Sometimes we fear being known. We put up a facade, take on a whole identity. Or even if we try to be honest, with online communications it’s so easy to accidentally hide parts of yourself, or simply behave differently.

For myself, I find my ultimate identity in being a child of God, a follower, one of the redeemed ones.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:12

But I like to have more than that. I like to be able to introduce myself, by what I do, or what kind of person I am. But sometimes that doesn’t seem enough. If I say I’m a writer people will ask me questions, I’m not ready to answer. I hedge or I pull out the latest interesting thing I’ve been involved in, even if it only takes a few hours occasionally.

And then there is the identity of labels. I used to think I hated labels, hated sticking people in boxes, but I’ve realized I do it still. I always have.

I don’t like denominations, maybe because I don’t really belong to one, and I don’t like other theological differences. There’s always so much nuance, and so many problems can be caused by assuming things about peoples beliefs. Yet I cling hard to the fact I was home-schooled, and that I live on the other side of the border to the city I’m often in.

Lately the label that I’ve noticed myself using is MBTI personality type. I’m always researching things about it, trying to figure myself out, and my friends, and the characters in my books. But I’m still not certain about myself. I’m wavering between two categories, and occasionally wonder if I’ve got it completely wrong.

But why do I worry? I used to think personality types were bunkum. I still believes there’s a lot of variation between the types. And learning about it has helped me understand myself. I know much more about how I think, and due to other resources I’m a lot more certain about what I believe, what I’m afraid of and what I love. But still I want to know. Am I a slightly shy extrovert or actually and introvert? Do I fit into one of the boxes?

I’m not sure I ever will know. Maybe I’ll never be able to say clearly what my occupation is. In fact I’m not sure I want that to be sure. I want to be doing lots of things. And I think I can live with this uncertainty now. I pray I’ll be able to just let it go and be a person, not a jar. I’ll just have to show who I am, instead of telling it.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

Now this is the identity we can be firm in. It’s not just who we are, it’s what we do. So if you don’t feel like you fit into any denomination, cultural group or personality, just remember there’s a lot more to who you are than [Australian, home-schooled, creationist, re-constructionist, sabbath-keeping-baptist, writer, Ninja, Legendaire and Resistance member] or whatever labels you use. It’ so many little things that make you a unique creation of God.

5 Responsibilities of Christian Writers

Hello friends,
Here is one of the more serious posts I’ve been promising. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while and bounced some of the points off my friend Kendra several weeks back. And speaking of Kendra she’s still looking for a few more people for her blog tour of Lady Dragon Tela Du in a months time. It’s an awesome book. Head over here or click the button on the side bar, if you’re interested. Now, onto the points.

As Christians and writers we have a great responsibility. We are writing things we hope will be read by people and have an impact on them. We are trying to affect people’s minds. Or even if some of your aren’t trying, it’s impossible to avoid. If you don’t want to affect people, perhaps you should make pizzas instead. But one of my points still applies to Christan pizza makers so keep reading.

We must not portray evil as good

This one looks pretty clear. We must not redefine morality. We cannot portray murder or theft as good. (Though we might explore some dilemmas around those crimes.)

But actually how to do it can be trickier. I think it can slip in more subtly. For example, if there are not suitable consequences for evil, we make the line less clear. What the consequences are, whether or not to show mercy, are of course left up to the author of each individual story to figure out. They may be natural consequences.

But if your protagonist does wrong, it must be made right. It cannot be ignored, or else it may appear to be okay. Even if your protagonist is truly trying to do the right thing and is boxed in between two bad choices, there must be some consequence.

However those situations are often not realistic and can be constructed for the express purpose of making writing look right. Don’t do that. Perhaps give them a difficult, hard to see third option. Or perhaps let them realize that this other choice was there later, and that they did the wrong thing. And have a consequence.

Also ‘evil’ is broader than we may think. This is somewhere many of us may blur lines. Disrespecting parent, being unkind, being lazy, simply thinking bad thoughts are all wrong. Yes, these things will happen in our books, unless we’re writing about perfectly perfect people (=boring). But we shouldn’t normalize them as being okay.

We must reflect God’s reality

This point is an extension of the one above. Some stories are just a superficial shadow of the way God made the world. They ignore the big things of the world. Yes, seemingly trivial things can be important to individuals, but it is not the purpose of life to simply eat, drink and watch movies, or even make enough money to live. God created us for a purpose, a battle between good and evil is going on. Please show some of that. It can be on a personal level or a worldwide conflict, but show it.

We should portray love, mercy, justice and other abstract concepts accurately. Also good character traits, such as courage, honesty and humility. These things are not always understood by the world. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what’s right despite it. (Okay, so that might be a well understood concept, but my point still stands.)

We should show relationships accurately. Siblings can and should get along well, teenagers don’t have to be rebels, friends can have a bad influence and sometimes it’s selfish to tell a person that you love them. Marriage isn’t just about ‘love’ and having another person to make you happy, it’s also about commitment, and working together. And marriage doesn’t doesn’t instantly turn you into a better person. (So I’ve heard, I have no experience in that.) So don’t show it that way. Show some examples of how things should be, and don’t do what never really happens. (This will also make your story more relate-able and therefore better.)

And we should portray God accurately overall. Not everyone has to see him that way in your story, but God is not evil, he is in control and he doesn’t change. We shouldn’t try to say otherwise.

We must spur people to action, not distract them

This was the point I got the post idea from. I was thinking about how people get very caught up in books at times. But though reading a book can be thought provoking or relaxing it is not entirely productive. 
If we create a world that readers like better than the real world and it pushed them to make a difference and improve our world, that is a success. But if instead they wish they lived in that other world and spend all there spare time dreaming about it and reading your books that is a failure.
The same applies to characters. If people wish they were more like your character is good qualities and are inspired and encouraged, that is a success. But if they wish they were actually that person in that position and do nothing that is a failure. If someone wished they were your heroine just because the hero is amazing there’s a problem.
This might be off the overall topic, but there is a talk by Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin called Jane Austen and Vampires. It’s about what girls read. And they said, quoting very roughly, “If your life is boring and you feel the need to escape into books, maybe the thing that’s missing is you doing things in it.” And we want people doing things in theirs lives not just reading our books.
So even though we want our books to be engaging, we need to be careful to not trap people in them. God should be the centre of people lives, not anything we have written.

We must point people to God

Making people happy or moral without pointing them to God isn’t doing them any good in the end. Even if we’re writing a book that doesn’t clearly mention God, doesn’t have someone come to faith, or isn’t about a believer, we can still do this. Even if we don’t give the answer, the question must still be asked. Show people that there’s more to life than what can be seen. Make them realize the emptiness of life without God. Give them a bit of hope, something to make them search. And trust God.

Or if you are writing for Christians, then you should certainly show God. Remind them of things they might have forgotten. Encourage them and build them up.

We must follow God in our lives

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.– 1 Corinthians 10:31

Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men. – Colossians 3:23

Being a Christian doesn’t just impact what we write. It impacts how we live. Follow the Lord with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. Love his words. Read all of it. Think about it obey it. And it will affect your life. 
We need to be a follower of Christ when we talk to a publisher, buy stationery,  and deal with interruptions. And we must be ready to follow him wherever he leads. We may be writers, but that doesn’t mean God won’t call us to do others things. In fact most of us do.

Conclusion

And that is what I call a serious post. I hope this is useful to someone. I know writing it down has helped me. You may think that I had more than five reasons or that I could have grouped them into less. I completely agree. That’s why I didn’t number them.

I’ll be back next week with something. I don’t know what yet. Perhaps someone will inspire me. Perhaps I’ll see some tag floating around and steal it. Or perhaps I’ll come up with something at the last moment out of desperation. (Yes, that is where many of my posts come from. This post is an exception by being written the day before. I’d like that to become the new rule though. It’s less stressful the day before and stress is bad.)

Writing is Not My Highest Priority

Just what the title says. It isn’t. It might not even make the top five.

Hello readers, I’ve noticed on occasion people talking about how you need to make writing a priority if you want to actually get anywhere. And sometimes my writing gets shoved away by many things. But that is not a bad thing and I’m going to tell you why.

The first thing is to be expected. As a Christian I try to put God before everything else. That’s what everyone would expect. And I must set aside time to spent with my creator and redeemer. And of course my family comes before writing. But that doesn’t just mean spending time reading the Scriptures and talking with God, or spending a bit of time with my family every day. It means much more than that.

If I felt that God had something for me to do that stopped me from writing, I hope I would stop. I certainly do for short periods of time. Things with my family might mean a holiday on which I don’t have time to write. It might mean spending days working in the garden or building.  It includes the work I do in our family business. There are times I’ll put writing before that I admit, but only sometimes. Besides I certainly will never be able to afford anything like writing software or conferences if I don’t work.

And then there are just other interest I have. I might spend a few days researching how to dye fabric. I might spend a week or two sewing a skirt or dress. (I probably will even give you photos when I’m done.) Or I might decide to do a free course on biochemistry or some other subject of interest. I think those other passions come from God as much as the writing does. I’m not going to put them aside just so I can finish a book.

So sometimes I might drop writing for a few weeks, or work on it very slowly. Because in the end I want to serve God and writing isn’t the only way I can do that. I have no intention of dropping it entirely now. I want to finish my stories. I want to come up with more to write. And I mostly likely will.

However, if an opportunity to do some kind of missions work or outreach I wouldn’t let my desire to write stop me. Not because that’s necessarily better than writing, just because I wouldn’t resist adventure, the chance to do something new. Or when I someday have a family of my own, i may have to drop my writing, to properly serve them. Especially if we’re involved in the kind of things I think I’d like to be involved in. God has so many things we can do. I don’t want to just stick to one. There are things I’d drop writing for. Maybe not forever, but quite probably for a long time. I’m a person, before I’m a writer.

And in case you’re wondering, I haven’t written a lot in the last two weeks. I editing my first chapter and actually sent it to a few people for feedback. That was a big first for me. And overall it was a good experience. Now I can’t decide whether to try and finishes rewritten the whole thing, or try and edit it more at the beginning. The first choice would probably be smarter, since I’ll probably just end up changing anything I do at the beginning. But I want it to be read and I do want it to be edited. I’m certainly not stuck, possibly just a bit burnt out from Camp NaNo. I did 25,000 words, without difficulty and without putting my blog on hold, I know I can write a lot if I put my mind to it. But right now I haven’t. I think I need the accountability.

How about you? What do you put before writing and how is it going at the moment? I’d love to know.

10 Amazing Things About Camp

I mentioned two weeks ago that I went to a camp and it was amazing. Anyway I thought I’d tell you just why it was amazing and what exactly I got out of it.

  1. I got to spend time with great people
  2. I don’t really get out a lot, so seeing people is always good. And these weren’t just any people, they were fun, encouraging people. About half were people I’d met before, but not seen for a long time. And despite it being a small camp we had people from all over the world.

  3. I got to observe people interacting
  4. This one’s a writer thing. Watching real people inspires characters sometimes. I’m not necessarily directly basing any characters off real people, but I pick up little things that I use. And I get to observe more than I would with random strangers, but the people are still new to me so I notice things.

  5. My room-mate was a writer
  6. Of all the people I could have been put with I was with the lovely Jess of Jessie Grace blogs. I think God’s hand was in it because I do have a bad tendency to judge by appearances and I might not have really talked to her if this hadn’t happened. Since I have been wondering a little if I am even supposed to be a writer this encouraged me a lot. What other reason would God have for sticking me with a fellow writer?

  7. The teaching was amazing
  8. We had a whole lot of good solid Bible teaching. Sometime I get caught up in studying complex controversial things. This wasn’t that. It was about how we live in Christ, and came straight from 2 Timothy. We were encouraged to get up early and read our bibles and given tips on how to make it more worthwhile. I felt as if I got my focus and enthusiasm back.
    .

  9. I was inspired to be adventurous and trust God
  10. Though it wasn’t actually the main focus of the camp the thing that hit me hardest was the fact that we need to and can fully trust God in anything. There was a hypothetical question that we had as an icebreaker: If you had unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do? One person gave the answer that God doesn’t have limits and if he wants us to do something he will supply the means. That along with other things about trusting God had made me want to do more than just sitting at home writing. But it has also made me realize that I don’t need to worry about doing enough. I do intend to do some new things, which will in turn give me more life experience to draw on in my writing.

  11. The weather and scenery were amazing
  12. It’s the beginning of winter in Australia, but it wasn’t quite too cold. Also though it almost rained one day it never quite did. And just look at the view we had: beautiful mountains and a bright blue sky.

  13. There was some dancing
  14. I had wanted to write a scene with dancing in Girl of the rumours, but despite watching many videos of renaissance dances I really didn’t feel up to the task. Then we had some dancing at camp and I got it written. Besides it was fun despite the fact I mostly watched.

  15. There were enough people to play games requiring large groups
  16. We played a bunch of different games, mostly indoors, but we also had a soccer game. I’m not a huge sport person, but I do enjoy joining in a game of soccer. (despite the fact I’m not very good and stay in deep defence) I hadn’t gotten to play any since this same camp the year before. And this time I was on the winning side. Also I won a game of Cluedo.

  17. I came home with more energy than I went
  18. I had fully expected to be exhausted after camp since that’s what happened last year. But I wasn’t. I felt invigorated. Maybe I didn’t stay up so late as last time or maybe I’m in better health. Or perhaps ‘the joy of the Lord was my strength’. Anyway I wasn’t tired out and that’s a good thing.

  19. I finally shared Samara’s Peril with my brother
  20. I made him wait and actually managed to keep from spoiling it for him. But I decided the wait had been long enough. While I drove he borrowed my phone and read. When my other brother drove, I read aloud. Sharing books is fun.

Speaking of camps, I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo again. This time with a goal of 25,000, my biggest yet. But I realized recently that writing really shouldn’t take up that much time. I can sometimes write 300 words in 15 minutes. That mean my total writing time per day only needs to be an hour for my goal.

Who else is doing Camp NaNo? Does anyone need a cabin to join? If so tell me and I’ll get you an invite.

13 Things I’ve Learnt in a Year of Writing.

Hello internet people,

I’m not exactly sure when I started seriously writing. A year ago I was probably in the midst of outlining Girl of the Rumours. I believe I started actually writing in the end of June. I had also been dabbling for over a year before that.

Anyway I’ve learnt quite a bit in that year. These are of course just my experience and you may find things work differently. But I also thought these little bits of knowledge could be quite useful. I thought I had a dozen, but I found I had miscounted and had an extra one. But I’m a baker so that’s okay.

  1. It’s important to know where the story is headed from the beginning
    1. I got stuck in a major way when I realized that the climax I had planned didn’t actually work as a climax. The story would have needed on the wrong note. So I tried adding other stuff on afterwards.

    2. I need my outline to be loose
    3. The further along in the story I was, the more the more it differed from what I had originally planned. I was still headed on roughly the same direction, but the details changed. When I actually get to a point in the story I can see clearer what the character would do. Also I discover things that don’t really make sense. My outline wasn’t very tight, and I don’t think I ever will outline tightly. I also found it can be good to outline roughly and then add more detail as I approach it.

    4. It’s okay to go back and rewrite before continuing
    5. I know it is recommended not to edit the first draft. I’m not talking about editing though. I’m talking about when you realize that what you just wrote was all wrong. Go back and write what the story needs. It will help keep the story on the right course.

    6. It’s also okay to just rewrite it in your head
    7. Sometimes I realized that some of the earlier event of the book happened differently. I even removed a character who did appear quite a bit in the beginning. But since it was back a long way and I knew where I was going, despite the changes. I just made few notes and didn’t actually rewrite it at the time. That means that my idea of the story and what I actually have written are different. Also I now know that I would have still had to make even more changes.

    8. It’s okay to summarize
    9. There were times when I was little bored with a bit, or just couldn’t quite figure it out. Instead trying to push through it I just put in some vague place holder test such as, “Aydel does something awesome to escape,” or “They got back safely.”

    10. Or write badly
    11. I did a lot of this. Sometimes I just let dialogue ramble on stupidly. Sometimes I left out dialogue tags, Sometimes there was no description or someone contradicted what they just said. And sometime I just plain didn’t like it. It kept me going. I’m just going to be rewriting the whole thing anyway, so it would have been a waste to make it beautiful

    12. Or write out of order
    13. I didn’t do a lot of this. But there where times when I was stuck but had an idea of what might happen later, or I realized that I had missed an important scene. Sometime I wasn’t even quite sure what order it should go in. I wrote it anyway.

    14. It’s possible to write when you don’t know what’s going to happen next
    15. I know I said I needed to know where the story was headed. Well one time id really had very little idea. I knew that Leisa had to warn the others about danger, but I didn’t know what the danger was. At the very last minute I figured it out. And then I still didn’t know what was really happening in my climax. But it was all right. I survived. It’s a dreadful mess, but I did finish it.

    16. Continuing to write is often the best way to sort things out
    17. This has really already been covered, but if you’re stuck keep trying to write. Even if you end up writing about your story instead, I t can help. You’re bungling along, and then suddenly you know the answer, or at least something that looks like an answer and will do for now.

    18. Ideas aren’t always brilliant as they first seem
    19. This is sad a but very true. I found the perfect answer that was going to solve my plot problems many times. Then I actually stated thinking about the plot again and realized things weren’t any better. It will happen and there’s not really anything you can do about it. But sometime an idea really will be good and sound. It may be one that come slowly, a little bit at a time.

    20. Main characters must have a consistent goal
    21. This was my biggest problem and the key to solving my story. Since I had added more onto the end, it didn’t all fit consistently together. Aydel’s actions were inconsistent or at times rather stupid. Just a couple of weeks ago I realized what goal would try everything together. And then all I had to do was figure out how everything else interacted with that. Insert a few other little ideas and her actions mostly make sense.

    22. Characters need to have the right name
    23. I wasn’t completely happy with the name of one of my main characters. He also had very little personality. He wasn’t charming enough, or smart enough, or at all intriguing. His name made him sound stupid. Once I had the right name everything snapped into place. I’ve had the same experience with other characters on a smaller scale. Names do dictate our impressions, even when we make them up ourselves. So if you have trouble with a character consider changing at least part of his name.

    24. I need some kind of daily or monthly goal
    25. When I don’t have a goal, I don’t get as much done; it’s as simple as that. Even though I do love my story and am excited about it, there are so many other thing that take up my life. The goal give me something to work towards, and forces me to make time for writing. But I do find that high goals stress me, so I try to avoid that.

    Did any of you gain anything useful from that? Should I make more lists like this? Comment and let me know. My next post will probably be the Beautiful People link-up and I’m going to tell you about a sweet red-head girl named Mim.

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