Ready? Set….

How many people woke up today thinking about preparations for Halloween? I woke up thinking about preparations for NaNoWriMo. I’m again reminded more of pregnancy and labor/delivery than anything else. My thoughts have been all about the coming date: November 1st. The start of labor. The beginning of a month-long delivery. By November 30th I’ll have birthed a novel. Excited & scared? Yes! Ready? Who knows?

Today I’ll be prepping the house, just like a did in the days before delivering babies. I feel like I’m nesting. My home office, my bedroom, my bathroom, my closet, etc. I want all of it to be clean, somewhat organized, “ready” for a distraction-free period. I will not have time to sort clothes (Fall/Winter finally arriving in Central Texas – it’s time to put away T-shirts and dig out sweaters!) or let myself get sucked into petty distractions. I’m clearing all of the clutter as I prepare for this adventure.
I’ve been trying to prepare the family as well, but I’m not sure if they get it. I’m not sure if I get it so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised or disappointed. I need them in my cheering section, not contributing to the distractions. Life is busy enough.
This morning I listened to the 4 tips for week 1 and I can’t help but worry that I’m only good for the last item. Item 3 will take great effort.
1) Go to “Write-In” (group noveling sessions)
2) Go big early: Write 2-5k words on November 1st
3) Do not revise: “Revision is for December”
4) It’s okay to not know where the story is going: that’ll come in week 3 or 4
Tomorrow, Day 1: Church and children will consume most of the 1st half of the day. Then I’m going to the Kairos closing at Barlett jail. The local Write-In conflicts with the Bartlett closing.
I’m looking forward to seeing how many words I can write as I work my way around all of the planned activities. Although the average daily word count is 1,667 I’m targeting 2k/day because I know there will be days when I may not get much written. This week I will not have conference calls because key members from the Taiwan team will be in Austin. There may be dinners scheduled. Courtesy dictates attendance (but not necessarily lingering so I’ll eat ‘n run). Next week and after – I’ve told my boss I may need some time off.
I’ve been marking the calendar with all of my November commitments. Fortunately it looks like my business trip to China may squeeze into December so that’s a relief. Meanwhile, everything else? Weighed against progress on my word count. Which is why I need to front-end load the daily writing. Some of the commitments and conflicts of time/interest (like the photo-shoot for Guideposts – my story will be in the March issue) can’t be avoided.
Meanwhile, I had to explain to my husband (again) that I won’t be available to join him for TV-watching. I know he supports me but the reality hasn’t really set in for him yet. He needs to understand that the word flow will be like the dwarf bamboo that wants to take over our back yard. The words, sentences, paragraphs, pages will grow & multiply filling all available space during the month of November. I like that image. Let the words flow and grow. Pruning and weeding will come in December.
I do feel God is pleased with the basic premise & characters He’s brought to mind. I pray that I can do justice to these ideas and bring the story to life. May God be with us!

Because I have nothing better to do…I’m ready to go!

I have been pining for a while. Pining and whining. I’m ready for a change. I’ve been ready for a change. On two separate occasions (once in 2005, once in 2008) I’ve started novels. Like miscarriages, conceived but never fully developed.

Now, I’m 3 days away from the wildest writing ride of my life. Wilder than last year’s NaBloPoMo. Wilder than the last few weeks spent warming up on my non-fiction work. I’m pregnant, expectant, ready to deliver. I think my water’s broken. I’m at the cusp of full-blown labor pains. NaNoWriMo.
I’m in awe. Afraid yet alive with excitement. Nervous energy wells as I edge closer to the precipice. When I wake up Sunday morning I will be at the start of something that will change me. It is inevitable. I will not leave this experience the same as when I started – no matter how the birthing process goes. I’m ready to shout it to the world. And, God willing, by the end of November I will.
“I’m a novelist!”

Monday Madness – perspective

Sometimes life is all about perspective. Glasses that are half full are also half empty. Joy is a choice we make. A gift of grace available to each of us, but a gift that must be accepted. Because joy is a matter of perspective.

A few weeks ago I signed up for the National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo) experience. I can tell you a million reasons why I don’t have time for this. I can fill my heart with fear and self-recriminations. Or I can choose joy and hope, faithful that if it’s God’s will, then it will happen and confident that if it’s not – it doesn’t matter.

I will remind myself daily to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

By stepping out in faith and free-falling into the unknown I have to trust Him. I will embrace Paul’s prayer to the Romans “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 15:13)

Meanwhile, this week feels like my last week of freedom.

Sunday’s Study: Judges 16 – Samson & Delilah

Samson, a man of God, was clearly foolish when it came to women. After his brief, tragic marriage and his rendezvous with a prostitute, he met and fell in love with Delilah – yet another Philistine woman. His destiny was to be the beginning of the end for the Philistines. Samson is a reminder that God uses us all through His strength and our weakness. Samson had a weakness for women and he was weak with women. Or maybe his weakness was his ego.

After 3 times of Delilah asking how to tie him up and subdue him and 3 times demonstrating her intention to do just that, he finally (on the 4th round) tells her the secret of his strength – to his own undoing.

When God was not with him, he was overtaken. Later, when he prayed for God to be with him, his strength returned. He is called out in Hebrews as a man of faith. His faith ultimately enabled him to fulfill God’s will for him. That is all that any of us can hope for.

It’s a Banner Day!

In the beginning there was a standard template bearing the title of this blog “A Mother’s Angst. Soon after that I jazzed it up with the emo weeping eye. I’ve wept so many times over my children it seemed appropriate.
I’ve been open about my angst, my sorrows, and sometimes my joy. The banner evolved to reflect my evolution from pervasive sorrow to the overriding joy given to us through God’s grace.
Today the banner takes another step forward. I may tweak it a bit but this is closer to what I’ve imagined for a while now. I’m reading the book of Jeremiah and I’m overwhelmed by the example God sets for us. I can relate to God’s frustration with His children, the people of Israel & Judah. Jeremiah 31 is all about restoration. I pray for the restoration of my relationships with my grown children. Meanwhile, I thank God for all that I’ve learned and am able to share with others.

Sunday’s Study: Judges 15 – Samson

If you watched the video for Chapter 14, you can jump about 2 1/2 minutes into today’s lesson. Today’s portion of Samson’s biographer required some of the history previously covered.

I’m struck by how wonderful God is. We’re created in His image, but because we’re not God we’re flawed. We’re blessed and cursed with free will. We’re so darn HUMAN!!!

Samson is an excellent example of an imperfect human who is used as an instrument by God. Samson takes the Israelites on their first step in the journey to break free of the Philistines.

Samson’s life continues following his failed marriage. When he attempts to reconcile with his wife, he discovers she’s been handed off to his best man! He strikes back, attacking the Philistines by burning their harvest. They retaliate. He retaliates. Life goes on.

When the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon us we can do awesome things. The hard part is avoiding sin during those lulls when we’re not feeling particularly moved by the Spirit.

"Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave…

…when first we practice to deceive.” Sir Walter Scott

Once I read something that Neil posted on his blog and was flabbergasted…then realized he writes the best fiction I’ve ever found on the Internet. Bless him, he’s good!

Not long ago I was floored again – this time by the horribly immature response of Alice Hoffman to a mixed review of her novel. Not a bad review, just a mixed review. She proceeded to attack the reviewer via Twitter: she posted the reviewer’s e-mail and telephone number and she told “her fans” to contact the reviewer directly. This was a published author behaving quite badly, demonstrating for all how a lack of personal restraint can lead to public embarrassment and subsequent apologies. We’ve seen this sort of behavior from Hollywood denizens for years. Although Alice may wish to be remembered for her noble statements or her novels, she left a legacy with her hasty remarks. In the backlash of public reaction she deleted her Twitter account, but the Internet has memory and Google cache retained the information for some time.

Today I’ve been taken aback again by the drama played out between Nic and the TSA. Although Nic has “darkened” her blog (Update: her blog is up and she’s posted an apology of sorts), her post is still out there. After I watched the TSA video I did a quick Google search and found her post among the many related hits.

I’d love to believe Nic’s story because she tells it with passion and it’s compelling – but the same can be said for Neil’s work of fiction. One big difference – Neil didn’t attack a public entity. Neil didn’t create a campaign. Nic not only posted her rant, but she also posted this item on the “People’s Blog” which includes a link to her post. I found several others who had taken up her cause. Only some had updated with the TSA’s counterclaim. Google is an awesome and scary tool when it comes to research. Nic should know that her full name, home address and phone number turned up in my simple search for her story.

Today Maggie wrote a post expressing her dismay over the situation and some aspects of human behavior. Maggie’s far more eloquent than I – I encourage you to read her thoughts for yourself. If you read this you know I’m way ahead of her, worried on her behalf about the responsibility she’s shouldered in passing on information that may be difficult to verify.
In August, Nic told a story on Violence Unsilenced. Was her story there true? Perhaps Nic struggles with reality, or maybe she’s writing fiction and wants to know that her stories are believable or maybe she just has a flair for the dramatic. Today’s drama casts doubt on her tale, like the boy who cried wolf. Even when liars tell the truth, they are never believed. The liar will lie once, twice, and then perish when he tells the truth.”
I’m a regular reader of the Violence Unsilenced posts. Because I want my comments on the VU site to be prayerful and meaningful, I take the time to visit (whenever they’re available) the blogs of the victims. I want to understand them better, to appreciate their circumstances. That’s how I found myself torn by Kelly’s recent post on the VU site. Her blog took me to her husband’s blog and between the two of them I pieced together a story of two people who are in a bad place, both culpable. It’s hard for me to identify one person as abuser and one as victim – they seem to share these roles. After spending half their lives together they know where each other’s buttons are and they push them. I am still praying for them – their story has touched my heart.
But Kelly posted her accusations on a well-regarded blog and thereby afforded credibility to her side of the story. But just as we see with Nic and TSA, there are two sides to every story. It’s damaging to yourself and to others if you build up your self-righteous attitude based on the misguided indignation you’ve inspired with your half-truths.
And then there’s the mixed blessing of social media. Another TSA vs. passenger drama happened in June 2007 and was also “outed” with video footage. In that video the TSA comes off less wholesome, yet the TSA still disclosed the full video. 2+ years ago Twitter wasn’t as widely adopted (and blogs weren’t as broadly embraced) and available for the viral spreading of the woman’s claims.
In the end, each of us must decide whether we’re going to walk around (or browse the Internet) believing everything we’re told and taking up the sword for others with moral outrage based purely on their moral outrage …. or believing nothing because the world is filled with liars …. or having to apply ourselves to the arduous task of discerning the truth and deciding what we’re willing to believe based on what we know.
The world is filled with people who tell lies. That is the truth. Nic may have believed what she posted was true but her memories might have been distorted by the anxiety and frustration experienced during her delay. Or maybe she has “issues.” I don’t know Nic, but she created a cloud of doubt and uncertainty that is probably warranted.
“Only simpletons believe everything they’re told!(Proverbs 14:15)
Update: the TSA has now posted additional video footage from multiple angles.
Meanwhile, the blogging firestorm continues.