Thursday, October 12, 2006

I've Got Nothing

My family has an email loop. This has become important as some of us have left Maryland and some have careers that keep our lives too busy for phone conversation (which really aren't that hard to make time for...And you know who I'm talking to). Email has become a very quick way to share bits and pieces of our lives. The other day, my mom sent an email out. It said, "Mom's got nothing." I laughed at that, because my mom has been traveling all over creation (she's been to Arizona, to Branson, to Massachusetts, PA, to Australia...the list goes on), visiting sick friends, coordinating meals for families at her church. She's been on a bowling league for years and exercises daily. She's got a spoiled dog, a devoted husband (even if he does drive her crazy), five kids, fifteen and six/ninths grandkids.

Basically, she's got a whole lot more than nothing. She just couldn't think of anything to say. I thought that was quite funny.

Until today.

Today, I'VE GOT NOTHING. No witty words of advice. No pithy stories about the writing life. No interesting tidbits to share.

And that doesn't really worry me, because I've come to the conclusion that having nothing comes from having everything. A life filled to bursting with activities and errands and chores. And, most importantly, people. I realized the other day, that in a very few short months I'll have fifteen nieces and nephews. Nothing? I think not. I've got - Jude, Caleb, Seth, Emma Grace (my own darlings), and no particular order...Skylar, Trey, Joshua, Danielle, Katie, Baby boy Sharo, Kai, Noah, Jake, John, Elijah, Evelyn Grace, Brianna, Elijah, and Amirah (yes, there are two Elijahs in the family). I've got three sisters, a brother, all their wonderful spouses. I've got my fantastic (mostly) husband and his two sisters. My parents. My mother-in-law.

Nothing? I think not.

And, yet, I have absolutely nothing to say.

Or maybe I do. Maybe, I just want to say - life is short. Enjoy it. Enjoy the people God has put in it with you. Cherish the moments, the days, and the years. Make sure you have nothing to regret. Write your books with passion, but live your life with even more. Talent is great and must be used, but people are our mission and our calling. Sure, my books touch hearts and lives, but if I'm not touching the hearts and lives of the people I speak to every day, I am failing in the most important calling I've been given.

Should we write? Yes. YES. YES. Should we do it with passion and energy? Of course.

But more than that, we should love those God has put in our lives. If that sometimes means giving up writing time and writing be it. There is always tomorrow for that sentence, that scene, that page, but missed opportunities to show that we care can never be regained.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Stranger in the Shadows

After three days of back and forth, that's the title my editors approved for my sixth Lakeview book. I'm glad to have it titled and slotted, but it always takes me so long to get use to the titles. Not that that's a particularly bad title. My dear friend Brenda is stuck with TRUSTING HIM for her August 2007 release (a book you should all buy because it's an awesome story). Now, maybe you think TRUSTING HIM isn't bad. I don't think it's bad, but her original title was ROSE COLORED GLASSES. Personally, I would be much more likely to buy a book titled ROSE COLORED GLASSES than I would one titled TRUSTING HIM (but I will be buying many copies of the book to give as gifts, because it is a GREAT book despite the fact that I think the title is a tad boring).

Of course, that's just me.

One way or another, titles matter. They tell us something about the books. Not just the story, but the tone of them. My friend Debbie Clopton writes a really cute series for Love Inspired - The Mule Hollow series. Her books have cute titles and cutes cover - THE TROUBLE WITH LACEY BROWN, AND BABY MAKES FIVE, THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, DREAM A LITTLE DREAM. It all fits together in a nice package that tells a reader what to expect when s/he opens the book.

Of course, authors don't make the final decision about titles. Well, maybe Nora and Linda and Debbie do, but authors like me don't. Our editors brainstorm with us, we come up with a list of titles, eventually one of those titles is chosen. And the book and the author are stuck with it.

So, don't get too attached to your working title. If you're blessed and that book appears on store shelves, it may have something completely different on the cover. Not that you'll care. Just having the book there will make up for having to change the title!

And I have to say, I've been very, very fortunate. All my titles are cool. Kind of mysterious and rather mainstream sounding. There was only one I really didn't like and now it's just about my favorite. Can you guess which one that was?

So, anyone want to share her working title?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No, I Can't Spell

So, we can just get that out in the open. I really can't. Spell, I mean. I also can't copy from one page to another. Well, that's not quite accurate. I can copy if I already know the words or numbers, but if it's something I haven't seen before - a strange word, a new telephone number, I'm likely to make a lot of mistakes. To complicate matters, I'm a comma addict. I love using them. Even in inappropriate places. Even in places where they confuse the writing. I don't know the rules about using commas, and I only kind of sort of maybe care about them. Thus the freelance editor.

But this isn't a blog about freelance editors. This is a blog about using the gifts I do have. If I spent all my time worrying about my weaknesses, I wouldn't accomplish a thing. I'd sit in front of my computer, questioning every comma and looking up every word. I'd be frozen in place by fear and the sinking, sliding feeling of inadequacy that often tries to take hold.

So, I've just got to accept my weaknesses and let them go, knowing that God is greater than all those things.

How easy is that to say? The key is to do it. And, yes, I'm talking to you.

I know what you're worried about. You think you won't meet editor and agent expectations. You worry that your writing isn't polished enough. You look at your work and think it's pond scum (yeah, I've got a thing for that lately. I've been seeing a lot of scummy ponds). You have a synopsis you're sure is the worst ever written and you just know it's going to keep you from getting published. You're editing, editing, editing, looking for errors, counting them up in your head, groaning at all the mistakes, all the imperfections. All the things that will prevent your story from being told the way it should be. The way you wish you could tell it.

But I know something else. No matter the problems with your manuscript, your synopsis, your life, they are nothing compared to the beauty of knowing you are doing absolutely what God wants you to do. He doesn't care about those mistakes and inadequacies. He cares about relationship. And that's what He's asking for. Not just tiny little moments of prayer and time, but a daily commitment to seeking His will, to knowing Him better, and to being the person He means you to be.

So, write. Write as if you have no weaknesses. Write as if your story is one that simply must be told. Write as if all the effort, time and energy will be worth it even if the book never sees the light of day. Write because you must. For Him.

And let Him take care of the rest.