What I Learned From Nanowrimo

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I did it! I wrote 50,928 words of my new novel in the month of November. The first week was fun and easy. The second week was hard, the novelty had worn off and the ideas were not flowing as easily. The third week was back to fun and almost easy. The fourth week was simply a matter of writing enough words to finish my goal.

Here are the most important lessons I learned from doing this exercise.

  1. When I sit down to write—even if I don’t feel like it, good things flow from my fingertips. It was amazing how just an outline of ideas in my head turned into some fantastic scenes on my paper. My feelings did not dictate that part of my day, my will had already made the decision that I was going to sit and write.

 

  1. The difficult parts don’t have to trip me up. When I ignored them and just kept writing, I made so much more progress. When I stop at the difficult parts and fight with them, my flow is interrupted and frustration mounts—then I quit for the day. I do need to go back and rework the hard parts, but doing it later has turned out to be easier because it is in context of the whole story already on paper.

 

  1. It required a daily commitment no matter what. Making dinner, cleaning house, or calling a friend had to wait. I finished my words on Nov. 25th, well ahead of my deadline because I averaged 2,000 words per day. (It was made easier by the fact that my children are out on their own.)

 

  1. Surprises popped up out of nowhere. The end of my novel changed from my initial idea simply because I needed more words. The new ending adds a greater depth to my main character and to the climax of the story. I love it.

 

  1. I have created a new habit. Now, when that time of day arrives, my brain perks up and says, “Time to write.” The feeling is even stronger than the craving for chocolate—well, almost.

 

When I finished my story, I immediately began worrying. “Oh no! What will I write next year? I don’t have any ideas.” But then a character popped into my mind, one that came from a true news account I heard several years ago which intrigued me. I immediately wrote out an outline of a new story with this character at the center. I got so excited that I almost started the story right then and there. Instead I cherished those new ideas and tucked them away. I might write that story before next year’s Nanowrimo, and I might not.

So, now what is on your writing to-do list, you ask? Well, one of my previous novels needs to be finished. I have learned much about the craft of writing in the past year since I last worked on it, and it needs a few dents and scratches hammered out of it, then a buff with a sparkling polish. I hope to be in the market for a publisher some time soon.

All the Light We Cannot See

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All the Light We Cannot See    by Anthony Doerr

One of the very best books I have ever read!

The story is epic, an honorable tribute to those who refuse to not love.

The writing, down to the last detail, is masterful.

The characters are real. They are my neighbors, they are me.

Marie-Laure and Werner are now my good friends. And Papa. And Jutta. And Etienne.

Thank you for coming into my life.

Thank you, Mr. Doerr.

(I just recently discovered Mr. Doerr’s writing. If you have read this book, please leave a comment and let me know what you thought.)

nanowrimo

nanowrimo

https://nanowrimo.org/

Nanowrimo

National Novel Writing Month

 

OK! I’m going to do it!

The first time I heard about nanowrimo, I thought someone would have to be crazy to do that. Now, here I am, almost a year later, trying to convince my friends in my writing group to do it with me.

They think I am crazy.

Nanowrimo is the National Novel Writing Month in which we attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November. We enter our daily total number of words and watch the number climb.

Last year I wrote my first story. It is a children’s story about a boy growing up on a homestead in the Bozeman, Montana area. He meets an unusual neighbor who begins to mentor him in his relationship with God. The boy starts to really ask some important questions. Then difficult things in life begin happening – don’t the always? This boy begins to pray and watches as God does some amazing things in his life.

My first draft is finished, but I have learned so much about writing since I started it a year and a half ago that I really need to go back and smooth it out. Then I hope to find a publisher.

I have started a second story: this one a mystery set in 1916 Glacier Park. I will do my best to give all the clues to the reader yet see if I can hide the answer from them until the very end. I will definitely have to use my friends as guinea pigs before I look for a publisher.

So now, nanowrimo.org.

I have pledged to start a brand-new novel on November 1st and have all 50,000 words written before the last minute of November melts into December 1st.

Yes, I am a bit nervous. Writing just for word count is not how I usually write. I think that ideas are more important than lots and lots of words. I am much more succinct than most people I know. This will be a new experience and a challenging time for growth.

This new story is based on Jesus’ parable about the unmerciful servant found in Matthew 18. A young woman living in Germany makes her way to America, intending to find work and send money home to her parents. She arrives penniless and is sold into indentured servitude.

Check out nanowrimo.com and see if you are up for the challenge.

Anyone else out there writing stories? Leave a comment, I would love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

God Heard Me

Psalm 116: 1-2

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

Both verses make it clear. Because God heard me, therefore I love him. Cause and effect.

Love and trust grow between two people when they genuinely hear one another.

God Hears Us

When I feel that God is far away from me, that’s when I know I need to pour out my heart to Him. One time when I was going through a particularly difficult situation, I dedicated every evening to Him. I gave away my T.V. and spent every evening reading scripture and praying. Sometimes hours would go by when it felt like only a few minutes. Did God immediately solve all my problems? No. But I did feel His presence in powerful ways! I cried out to Him in pain for 18 months. Then He blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.

When you are in desperate straits, pour it all on God. He wants to hear it.

Speak to Him in the silence of the night.

Cry out to Him throughout the day.

Pray while you take a fast walk through a park or go for a hike. The added exercise will combine with your prayers and amazing things will happen.

We Must Hear Others

Love and trust grow between spouses when they genuinely hear one another. Listening to our spouses shows that we love them and that they are important to us. When our spouses feel that love, their love for us will also grow.

Friends also need our undivided attention. Our lives have become overfull of activities and social media which means little time is left for deep friendships. God created us for relationships with other people, face to face relationships. Texting is convenient but it will never replace loving someone enough to sit down and look them in the eye and say, “I am here for you.”

Listening is not an easy thing to do. Lynda D. Elliott, in her book The Counsel of a Friend, said, “Listening may appear easy or even passive, but really ‘hearing’ another person may be the hardest work you will do.”

How to Listen:

  1. Pray first – Ask God to help you truly hear that other person.
  2. Focus on them – Set aside your own thoughts and judgements.
  3. Watch – Look for body language that reflects their thoughts and feelings.
  4. Notice – Take note of their feelings. Are they feeling angry, sad, guilty, frustrated, hopeless or something else?

 

Listen beyond their words. What is in their heart? Don’t try to “fix” them or their problem. If they want advice, they will ask for it. Till then just listen. Just love.

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Desiring God

Several months ago, I stumbled across an amazing website: desiringgod.org.

Daily articles are written by solid, mature and wise Christians. The articles range from practical everyday topics to deep devotionals that touch our hearts. Some examples of recent articles are:

Oct. 4 – Do You Pray Against Temptation?

Oct. 3 – The Most Repeated Verse in the Bible

Oct. 2 – What Will Make Our Children Happy?

Oct. 1 – What Does Prophecy Look Like Today?

Dec. 21, 2016 – What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas (Okay, so it’s not recent but you must agree, it is essential.)

Besides articles desiringgod.org has a myriad of resources for everyone, from the business person to the stay-at-home parent, from students to ministry leaders. In their own words, here is their mission:

Most people in the world have no experience of deep and abiding joy.

Even though it is something we all desperately long for, the assurance that true happiness can be known — fully and forever — is a hope that billions of people live every day without. This is a tragedy.

Desiring God is on a mission to change that.

We aim to help people everywhere embrace a profound truth that changes everything about life and eternity:

You were created for something greater than yourself. You were formed for something awesome and magnificent.

You were made to know glory — God’s glory. And the deepest longings of the human heart can be fully satisfied by pursuing that glory. In fact, God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Thank you to all the staff who put so much time and work into encouraging us in our daily walk!

What is your favorite Christian website?

 

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God Friended Me

This new CBS television series premiered last week.  When I first saw the title that old groan ran through me. Hollywood takes a vital subject like God and usually makes a royal mess of it. They either mock God and the Christian faith or belittle the morals that He teaches us.

My groans echoed through the house, but I turned the T.V. on anyway. If it was to be a slam on the Christian faith, at least I would be able to rebut it with my friends and family. Maybe the show would have some redeeming value.

I was very pleasantly surprised! The characters are genuinely trying to help others in need. They are cute and perky, giving great energy to the story. The writing kept the pace moving quickly without resorting to sexual comments or over the top explosions every thirty seconds. The story gave us some delightful twists and turns, yet also told stories that happen to real people. We all have broken relationships that need mending. We all need encouragement when we are down.

The story also does a great job of asking the important questions about God. Is He there? How do I know? Why did my mom die so tragically? What does God want from me? God does not want us to blindly accept someone else’s faith as our own. He wants us to search for Him. He wants us to ask the hard questions. Talk to Him. Read the Bible for yourself. Ask Him to show Himself. He loves you more than you can imagine!

A huge “Thank You!” goes out to CBS for creating a show that uplifts and entertains at the same time.

Going to Egypt

Jeremiah 39 – 43

Locked in chains, he was pulled along with the other prisoners. They were filthy and starving. The smell alone was enough to make him wretch. They stumbled down the broken streets. Jerusalem, his home, had just fallen to the Babylonians. It was 586 BC and the prophesied fall of Judah had finally come. Jeremiah’s heart was broken.

The captain of the guard rode his horse up and down the columns of captives being marched to Babylon. He shouted orders to his guards, first in one direction, then in another. His eyes fell on Jeremiah the prophet. “This is all God’s work.” He told Jeremiah. “The disobedience of your people has brought the justice of God. But today I will free you from the chains on your wrists. You may choose anywhere to live. Don’t worry, you will be taken care of wherever you decide to go.”

Jeremiah, along with the others who had been left behind, settled under the newly appointed governor, Gedaliah (GEH-dah-li-uh). He promised peace and security. The few remaining people moved into the empty towns. They worked the vineyards and the orchards. The wine and fruit they harvested overflowed.

A top officer for the deposed king, Ishmael had eluded the Babylonian army.  He returned to meet with the new governor, to talk of the country and the people, to share a meal. Between the second and third courses Ishmael and his men rose, drew their swords and struck down Gedaliah.

News of the murder spread like wildfire. The people could talk of nothing else. “Why did he do it? Surely the Babylonians will make us pay! They will come and burn the fields and vineyards. They will carry us off to exile along with the others! We should run away. Quick, we can get half way to Egypt before they get here.”

Someone in the crowd shouted, “Ask Jeremiah the Prophet what we should do!”

They went as one people – the army officers, the greatest nobles and the poorest field workers.

“Please, Jeremiah. Pray that God will tell us where we should go and what we should do. We will do everything God says. Whether we like it or not, we promise to obey.”

Jeremiah locked himself into his prayer closet, fasting and praying.

One day. Two days. Three days…Ten days. Then Jeremiah heard from God.

He spoke to them as one people – the army officers, the greatest nobles and the poorest field workers.

“This is what God says to you. ‘If you stay, I will bless you greatly, your enemy will have compassion on you. If you disobey and run off to Egypt, your enemy will overtake you and you will never see your land again. Do not go to Egypt.’”

The arrogant men stepped forward. “Jeremiah, you are lying! This is a trick. We are going to Egypt.”

 

How often do we pray for God’s will and direction in our lives? How often do we rationalize away our obedience? God’s judgement came on Judah because of their disobedience and when the people ran away to Egypt they took their disobedience with them. God promised them that if they went to Egypt, they would never see their homeland again. The Babylonians did indeed invade Egypt in 568-567 BC.

Lesson From Jeremiah

  1. Commit time to prayer. Jeremiah did not hear instantly from God. He spent days praying and listening. Sometimes it takes weeks or months. Never stop praying. Luke 18:1-8
  2. Listen for God’s voice. Prayer is conversation. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we listen. Still your busy thoughts and turn your attention to God, wait expectantly for His answer. Be still and know that He is God. Psalm 46:1
  3. Obey. Instead of looking at your own circumstances, worried and fretting, take God’s hand and walk in obedience. Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. John 14:23