Organizing the Writing Life

I’m reading James Scott Bell’s book Just Write: Unforgettable Fiction and a Rewarding Writing Life straight through and then I’ll go through it and do the exercises. By reading straight through, I mean 15 to 20 pages at a time and then picking it up again. It’s been a few days since I last read it but it’s right up there with library books with looming due dates. He got this one published by Writer’s Digest Books and it’s copyrighted in 2016. It’s got advice that entails work hints and dedication and using brain cells and encouraging oneself – to name a few things.Just Write: Creating Unforgettable Fiction and a Rewarding Writing Life

(photo from Christianwritersinstitute.com)

I like James Scott Bell’s fiction. I discovered his books while shelving returns from the circulation desk when I worked at the library. I bought his craft books, one from Barnes & Nobles, two from Writer’s Digest online. I recommend them all but this one is hitting me where I live and I’m glad I bought it.

We have a lady pastor at our church who’s told me that my husband’s preaching stepped on her toes. “I love it!”

The first time she spoke that way, my eyes widened and I said, “You loved it?”

“Oh yeah, I needed to hear that.”

James Scott Bell’s words to writers may step on my toes at times but I’m serious about improving. So, I appreciate the words of wisdom a published novelist passes along.

One of my goals this year is to finish Jerry Jenkins’ “Inspirational Market” writing course that I purchased as an online class.

As I get organized in my thinking and my environment I picture finishing projects and choosing pathways according to God’s direction. I do that now some of the time, but disorder affects me more than I’ve realized.

A friend of my husband’s and mine told me twenty years ago that he thought it was a spiritual battle and he may have been right. Anyway, God knows and I’m ready to organize the kitchen this week.

May God bless you!

Seek God First

I was spending some quiet time with the Lord today and I got reminded of Matthew chapter six. Verses nineteen through thirty-four speak in a comparative manner of collecting treasures on earth and laying up treasures in heaven. Jesus reminds us that God provides for us. I included the verses here because many times over the weeks I’ve sensed God reminding me to seek Him. He is the eternal reality. This life on earth is short and the older I get the more I’m aware of it.

Mat 6:19, (ESV)  “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,

Mat 6:20  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Mat 6:21  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Mat 6:22  “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,

Mat 6:23  but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Mat 6:24  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Mat 6:25  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Mat 6:26  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Mat 6:27  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Mat 6:28  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,

Mat 6:29  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Mat 6:30  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Mat 6:31  Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

Mat 6:32  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

Mat 6:33  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Mat 6:34  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

When I read Proverbs, it talks disparagingly of slothfulness and it reminds people to leave an inheritance to their children. In the book of Second Thessalonians it says in the English Standard Version at 2Th_3:10  For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

2Th_3:11  For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.

2Th_3:12  Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

The Apostle Paul is aware of Jesus’ teachings and he’s not contradicting Jesus, but he’s addressing a problem with some of the believers. They were so convinced that Jesus was returning immediately that they didn’t think they needed to work. Jesus said don’t let money be your master. Let God be your master and He will provide. One of the ways He provides is by giving us work to do so we can earn a living. I think that’s pretty clear. My husband has preached that work is not a part of the curse in the book of Genesis. The curse for farmers came after the fall in the addition of weeds and thistles and the ground not cooperating.

Even though we live in a fallen world, unlike anything at the beginning of the Creation, Jesus is saying if we seek God first then we need not worry about provision. If we focus on God first, then the earthly stuff that we need will come our way through opportunities, ideas that flourish, through gifts from others, etc. The Jewish people are God’s chosen people and one of the issues that causes jealousy against Jewish people that I’ve heard about is the fact that many worked hard, became scientists or comedians or business people and they prospered more than the rest of their neighbors. When God loves you, He likes to prosper you. Not every Jew or every Christian is rich. It can’t be that simplified, but God’s principles apply to everyone. Give and it shall be given unto you is a principle: Luke_6:38  “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

If you help the poor or give to a cause near and dear to God’s heart, He will bless you. It’s repeated in Scripture and it may be more than about money.

I’ve found Him worth seeking, anyway.

Well, I hope you are blessed today and forever.

Change Hinderers

I have to admit, I like change. Yet, at a conference where my husband and I, as leaders, were being coached to change, I didn’t like it. Anxiety sat on my shoulder, what would this change do to the flow of things back at the building?

Who am I? Why did I resist the ideas for change. When did I, um, change?

After I looked at the resistance to change at that meeting, I decided to take a deep breath, get over the idea that I might not want to look at new techniques, and became more open. I’m sure the instructor appreciated that. If leadership won’t consider anything new, forget implementing anything after the training.

As some may know, I’ve started keeping a time-log. I’m on week two. It amazes me how quickly time flows and how hard it is for me to keep an 8.5 by 11 inch piece of paper with me at all times so I can keep track of the fleeing half hours. So, I’ve cheated and tried to remember. Where did that half hour go between eating lunch and finishing a note to my neighbor, now living in assisted-living quarters hours away? How is it that she’s gone and I rarely made it over to sit and chat? How is it that I didn’t know she was lonely until after she moved away and her daughter told me? And surely, it didn’t take me half an hour to say hi, how are you, I miss you.

The other day, I intended to clean for three hours and write for five. The phone rang. “What time did you say you were coming over today?” After setting up an appointment for the afternoon, I called my friend. “Remember our walk, can you make it this morning?” Oh, man. How many hours are there in the day? Overbooking when I’m actually keeping track shows the tendencies that have sabotaged me in the past, which is what this exercise is all about.

Today, a friend needed a ride to see some people. Her close friend called me to see if I could accommodate her, because she was too upset to drive. A friend looking out for another friend, and I agreed. I wouldn’t want emotional duress to cause an accident. So I packed my computer in a bag with a Bible and a writing book and money for lunch. I’m glad I was available, but as soon as I find my time paper, I’ll have to block out three hours of time for a sandwich and the drive and maybe two verses read.

Sometimes when people know you are trying to diet, or to be less available, or kicking the addictive behavior you enjoyed with them, they’ll give you little hints as to why you shouldn’t even bother. “You’ve tried that before and it didn’t work, don’t worry about it.” Or, “I’ll miss you. Surely you don’t have to skip time with me.” Or “What kind of a friend are you? We always go to the ice cream stand after class? One hot fudge sundae a week won’t kill you?” Etc. Etc.

I’m reminded of what Cecil Murphey said to me, “What are you willing to give up?”

For a person who likes change, I can see that I have some routines that I like. I read a book for a resource for a marriage book I’m working on. The man had Asperger’s Syndrome. If I remember correctly, his wife pointed out that he spent forty-five minutes looking in the mirror in the morning while she got their children fed, bathed, dressed, and then got herself ready for work. I think people can fall into time-wasting habits and not even be aware. This man wanted to help his wife and improve his marriage. His book is: “The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband,” by David Finch.

He altered behaviors for the benefit of his wife, himself and his children. He didn’t allow others to hinder his progress. As I change and grow, I’ll continue to note hindrances of my own making and maybe see some from others. Then I’ll have to decide, “What am I willing to give up so I can stay seated at the keyboard or to avoid a trip to the dr.s office or hospital, etc.?”