Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Swirl as of Feathers

I rediscovered a curious poem that I wrote a year ago. It's a love poem, but it's sad, and I was and am happily married. I think someone or something else inspired it - maybe it was actually just a swirl of feathers, who knows -  but I can't remember:

A swirl as of feathers
A swoop and a bend as if to kiss
A tenderness and breathless passion
Like a lily field aflame
But softly rises smoke and fire
And naught left of lilies but lies
A swoop of a ghost and a gentle kiss
And all that's left of remembered bliss
A swirl as of feathers

The House

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Psalm 127:1a
I keep telling myself this so I can go to sleep. I'd like to hammer it into my head with a thousand nails to make it stick.

Have you ever done something that you knew was good work - an essay, a piece of art, a project? Something you stepped back from and said, not with arrogance, but with satisfaction, "I've done this well. I worked hard, and it paid off. This is something worth reading/viewing/studying?"

I'm in the final stage of my novel, and I think I've done something well.

It has been a (literally) life-long dream to write a novel and see it published. In the dream, readers from all over discover an author whose work they become inextricably sucked into, that sparks life and energy in their mind, and that opens up a grand vista to a world they never began to dream of.

The books I most loved did that for me.

I should stick to the point, though - I think I've done something well, something that has real potential to be published by a respected publishing house.

This thought moves me profoundly. I began my first full-blown "novel" in the sixth grade. I unwittingly fell in love with writing when I was six. Now, I'm twenty-three, and I'm almost ready to find an agent and send my first real, adult novel out into the frightening publishing netherworld. I'm so close to seeing an actual "dream come true," I can taste it.

Of all the writing I've done in my life, this is my best. I opened up this post with the verse I did because I have to remind myself that my best is all I can do, and the rest is in God's hands. Just because I wrote something well does not mean that it will get published. My writing will be judged based on my skill, yes, but much of the judging also depends on the whims of publishers.

When I imagine my dream coming to fruition, it nearly brings me to tears. Call it cheesy, but fill in the blanks with your own dreams. Powerful, right? Now, the real challenge is trusting God's sovereignty in the midst of something so very personal.

As I come to the end of my second draft (and the final "writing" draft, if you will) and start thinking about cover letters and summaries and sample pages and agents, you can pray for me that I will trust the Lord, and love and enjoy him ever more than the gift of writing that he's given me. For I build nothing in life - not even this - without him. I have to remember that, and rest.

85% done and counting...!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Getting Territorial

It's easy to equate the phrase "taking care of Ellie is my job" to "taking care of Ellie is my territory."

Indeed, taking care of Ellie is my job, and I very much view it as such. In the same way that Chris has a responsibility to get up each weekday morning, drive to work and make money to support our family, I have a distinct responsibility to get up at whatever hour to nurse the baby, play with her during the day and generally keep her happy and healthy as she grows up. It's a worthwhile job - the best job ever, in my opinion - and the "pay" is the joy of raising up a child to delight in Christ and her life in Him.

Yesterday I noticed a dangerous slip in my thinking. When Chris made an innocent suggestion about something to do with Elayne, I took it amiss and told him that I felt he was "jumping into my territory." He was quick to point out that we must not become territorial over our child! Mothering may be my job, but parenting - that's a team effort. 

I think that it's easy for mothers to become possessive of their children, adopting an insidious pride in the fact that they're around their babies 24-7 and therefore know their tiniest quirks. As if that entitles them ( to take over the role that God has given to both parents! We quickly forget that just as we are merely stewards of our money and our talents, we are merely stewards of our children. Ellie belongs to God, first and foremost, for it was He who "knit her together in [my] womb" and who "wrote every one of the days ordained for her before one of them came to be" (Psalm 139). I did no knitting, or writing. I am simply privileged to be the one God chose as Ellie's mother.

Perhaps internalizing that truth is the surest way to combat the idea that Elayne is mine and mine alone to deal with. If I remember that she is God's, then I will strive to raise her in a Godward manner, which means that I will inevitably see parenting as something Chris and I must do together. For Chris and I are to Ellie, as to the rest of the world, a picture of Christ and His church in our marriage (Ephesians 5), and Ellie won't see that picture well if I keep trying to take over and do things by myself.

Something to chew on. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From Inside My Lil' Cocoon

The last time someone asked me how my novel was going, I answered without thinking, "Somebody needs to die." What I meant was, I needed to kill off a character in my novel that I hadn't killed in the first draft. Well, that person is dead, so now I can blog in peace.

Is it strange that I enjoy killing off characters in my novel? The other scene I distinctly enjoyed was a breakup scene. I've since psychoanalyzed myself and decided I simply like having control over "people's" lives. The control I have as an author over my novel makes me feel a little more in control of my microcosm, makes my head feel a bit more organized, my thoughts more linear (because let's face it - my thoughts resemble an O-ball way more often than they do a line).

This is an O-ball, by the way.

I learned my lesson from last time I tried to write in Starbucks. This time, I brought ear plugs. Unfortunately, I can still hear the atrocious music, but conversation is all muffled, so no more discussions about how my feet don't reach the floor.

Something about this cocoon of silence is incredibly comforting. Yet another example of my introversion. Not being able to tune in to the words of other people - even as much as I like people-watching - makes me feel secure and alone. And alone time is what I need right now, despite the fact I am writing a post for public consumption.

But you know, in the end, I write not for the public, but because I like to.

It's good to be out of the apartment. I'm so thankful for the time that Chris gives me to write every Monday and Tuesday evening. Little Ellie is going through some kind of developmental leap and it's temporarily made her a pill. She requires constant attention, and things that usually make her happy only do so for a few minutes before she decides she's upset again. I love her, and I definitely miss her after a few hours away from her, but I'm glad for the break.

We just got back from a trip to Colorado Springs - Ellie's first plane ride! She actually enjoyed the airport, I think. She stared at all the people with great interest (takes after her momma). It was downright cool there, even cold at night. What a beautiful place. Sometimes I forget what naturally lovely places there are in the States because I'm Texas born and bred and Oklahoma schooled. Not that TX and OK don't have their own beauties, but let's face it - just like Robert Downey, Jr. is more handsome than David Crowder, as a whole, Colorado is prettier than Oklahoma and Texas.