Reframing: Your Vision

“Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be…accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”     —Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Some moments catch you by surprise. And sometimes, you expect a particular outcome or response to an event and end up with something wildly different instead.

I’ll be honest: I’m in a weird spot in my life right now. I’ve been calling it my “Arrested Development” phase, and no, I’m not referencing the once-dead-now-resurrected-on-Netflix television show (though I do enjoy that show). No, my arrested development comes in the form of being frozen in carbonite in a number of ways, both in writing and my personal life.

Until just now (literally, just now—I had an actual revelation while drafting this piece), I believed my frozenness was largely environmental and circumstantial: if I could just switch A for B and learn how to do C, I’d finally be able to move forward in my life. But, ugh, all these things keep getting in my way! How dare they. Can’t you see, THINGS, that I’m trying to do stuff here? Obviously not. The things are known for being super inconsiderate of peoples’ feelings.

But here’s the truth I’ve just discovered: It’s not the things’ fault. It’s mine. I’m getting in my own way. I’m letting my fears dictate what happens (or doesn’t). And that’s not okay. That is not what we are called to in this life.

Mick Silva of Higher Purpose Writers hosted a fantastic retreat the first weekend of October called Story Vision, which involved 15 writers gathering in a gorgeous 1930s beach house on Puget Sound to spend three days working through our things so we could get back to the core of our writing. And I was fortunate enough to be one of those fifteen.

Reframing Your Vision

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’d know I’m a pretty emotionally intuitive person. Now I don’t say that to brag—would you like to be the person who feels things so deeply that they cry at the drop of a hat? It’s not the most socially acceptable ‘gift’ to have.

Over the years though, I’ve come to accept and appreciate it for the gift it actually is. I can tap into a well of feelings that not everyone can. For a writer, that’s kind of golden. I don’t always have to just imagine what something feels like. I can actually feel it, and then translate it into the experiences of my characters, whether I’ve physically been through a situation myself or not.

As a result of this strange ability, the tears often come when they’re not welcome. But for some unknown reason, I really didn’t cry much that weekend, even in the midst of deep heart-sharing and working through the healing process to get to our stories. It was almost a magical relief to be able to sit back and absorb everything that was going on without being hindered by the interruption of tears.

I also found myself without too much to say (out loud). I like to talk to people, but sometimes it’s even more useful for me to just listen. The biggest benefits I got from the gathering are threefold:

1. I simply received. I got to take in this collection of inspiration and practical applications from Mick and the other writer-warriors, and just wrap them around me like a blanket that I got to take home with me.

2. A renewed sense of purpose. This is the quote that grabbed me on Saturday and hasn’t let me go yet:

Your story is your greatest weapon against fear and evil,

Your greatest comfort to enjoy,

And the treasure people need.” —Mick Silva

Read that a few times over. Let it sink in. I love that it encompasses both acknowledging our call to write and the importance of recognizing how our own lives are a key component in being able to fight the darkness and share those insights with others. That, to me, is what this writing business is all about.

3. The courage to persist. Mick says, “The secret to all great fiction is persistence.” Tweet I’m not allowed to give up. And in the not giving up, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to accept the help I need to get myself out of the carbonite and actually do something with these stories burning inside me.

So, while I gather these things to ponder, I’m left with the golden glow of the weekend behind me. It’s pushing me forward and into that space where I have to sit in the anxiety for a bit, and that’s okay. I’m in suspense and incomplete, and I’m giving over control to see what God has in mind. But I’m not giving up. You shouldn’t, either.

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Tuesdays in Autumn

One month ago, on September 16, I was in a van on my way to the Boston airport after an incredible week at Squam Art Workshops (which I blogged about here and here).

Now, on October 16, it is a Tuesday afternoon, and I am working away in front of my laptop. Life seems disastrously less exciting after experiencing an adventure, but for me I am trying to reframe those feelings of longing into a fueled desire to continue on my creative path.

It’s Autumn now in the Pacific Northwest, which can bring about even more feelings of despair and discouragement, simply because of the potential dreariness of the days. However, we were gifted with a few extra weeks of yummy sunshine and cloudless skies, so I’m hoping I can hold onto the memory of being warm and dry long enough to propel me into Winter with sufficient hope to get me through to Spring. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually like Autumn and Winter quite a lot, what with all the pumpkin patches and scarves, family goodness and holidays that accompany the weather shift, but the dark days can wear on a person – particularly an emotional creative-type like me who can be affected by the smallest of things. I recognize this, I own it, and I am working on it. My goal this year is to channel those emotions toward creative outlets rather than giving in to depression.

So, with that little confession out of the way, I look forward to November and the reemergence of NaNoWriMo, in which I will harness those cloud-filled skies and fill my days with an abundance of coffee and imagination in order to undertake the writing of a novel – yes, an entire novel – in just 30 short days.

I know it sounds crazy, but I’m okay with that. I have tried it once before and failed miserably, and yet I am still excited to try again, with hope for a much more positive outcome this time around. And as you may know, crazy people love to hang out with other crazy people, so if anyone would care to join me in this adventure, I would adore the company!

What are you planning to do to channel your creativity in the Autumn and Winter seasons? I’d love to hear about it.

Enjoying the crisp days ahead,

xo, me

Things Take Time

We live in such a “microwave” culture that I sometimes wonder how we ever got by before instant gratification took over everything in our lives. When I was a child, things moved more slowly. I remember this, and I remember the wonder as technology and modernity progressed and things suddenly starting showing up at our fingertips in the blink of an eye. Where did this magic come from, I marveled as I sat down at our first Apple computer and sent an email. And we were progressive for having that in our home when we did – it was one of the perks of being raised by a computer nerd when the species was only just evolving. I loved (and still love) being the child of a techie, and in turn becoming a bit of one myself. And I can’t help but love all of the things that technology gives to us – there are so many benefits that come from being instantly gratified when we want something: information, connections with people across the country and around the globe, sharing a plethora of delights, etc.

But there comes a point, and this is where I am today, where you have to stop and wonder what happened to our sense of calm and just letting things unfold naturally? Nobody these days, it seems, is willing to wait and let processes occur organically. Because we’ve become so conditioned to wanting something and having it appear on our screens or phones instantly (or at the very most two days later via express shipping to our doorsteps), waiting for things to unfold languidly and beautifully is almost as absurd a request as asking to elect both major presidential candidates and making them work together (and that will be my only political commentary here folks!).

I’m in the process of developing a business. While this isn’t the time or place to divulge more on the specifics of that project, the fact that I am working on this is what sparked this post. I get so excited about it at times that I just want to jump forward and have everything going, yet at the same time the project is still so undefined and just starting to grow and develop. I have to remind myself that this part of the process is just as important and beautiful as the part in the future when everything is working. You can’t send your infant straight to college. She won’t flourish if she’s not prepared. Just as children need time to grow, so do other things.

Things take time. Well, good things take time. And while it’s nice sometimes to have our whims dropped in our laps instantly, often whatever it is we want isn’t really as satisfying when it’s handed to us as opposed to when we have to go through the struggle of waiting. “Patience produces character.” (Romans 5:4 NCV) I want to be a person of patience and character, producing good work, not by pushing but by persevering.

I vote that we spend more of our days operating on “Island Time.” I want to enjoy the peace that comes from allowing things to unfold – naturally, organically, in their own time. Rushing the process often leads to messes we have to clean up later, and frankly, I’d rather enjoy my moments instead of doing unnecessary mopping.

xo, me