Grappling with the Dark: Why do writers write?

Like probably  thousands of other bloggers, I have a manuscript (or two or three), the oddball short stories and a sizable list of ideas sitting in the drawers and files. And like every writer, I have to face life (bills, kids, commitments) but those are pretty lame excuses to not write. Well, if you can’t beat the facts of life, why not join them?

Another reason I started this blog was to get into a regular writing habit. If I could just write what I know about life, then I’d get inspired to finish those other things. I’ve read the books, completed the exercises, joined a writer’s group but I’m still stuck in the no-man’s land of not really writing. I want to finish those stories, heck I’m making time to write this.

But as I took a critical eye back to what I remember about dropped projects (courtesy of Stephen King’s On Writing), I think I’ve pinpointed the problem. Have you ever read any of King’s novels? I read a trunk full of them as a teen and there’s some scary stuff in those books. King and similar authors expose the things that go bump in the night. I suppose it was probably cathartic to read. When I was a teen, a lot of stuff–from stupid to horrid–was happening in and around my life and world at the time, but we didn’t talk about it.  And maybe reading about those struggling against the darkness helped me feel like there was hope that I would see the other side.

We can’t fight the darkness if we pretend it doesn’t exist.

Spouses leave, friends (or at least friendships) die, we find weird lumps, pets get sick, kids screw up and life can just stink. When I got to the point in my drafts where the story needed to delve into the dark side of things, I backed off, smoothing out those wrinkles without actually resolving them. In other words, I didn’t tell the truth (as King notes is the only way to tell the story). I plastered a smile on the stories and then ran the other way.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)

 

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The End is Worth It

Daughter of Light (Follower of the Word Book 1) by Morgan L. Busse

Early on it was hard to keep up with the changing perspectives, and with the world needing detailed, it was difficult to get into the book at the start. Wanted to read more of the other perspectives (Nierne, Caleb, Lore) especially when they started to intertwine (Nierne and Caleb) versus the main character’s story of discovering her abilities. Perhaps because it seemed there could be deeper, more powerful experiences and emotions for those other characters (a striking woman who for unknown reasons sought sanctuary in the life of a monastery scribe, an assassin struggling between shrugging off his actions and being consumed by guilt, and a wise, yet unmarried, captain of the guard who struggled to maintain a professional attitude towards the main character).

Yet, the main character, an angelic-looking and gentle young woman, was raised sheltered from the outside world in a tiny village only to be an outsider because she was adopted. It seems as though her beauty and nature, as well as her adoptive parents’ good standing within the community, could have won over the locals despite her unknown origins. In contrast, the male antagonists, also stunningly beautiful, easily inserted themselves into the fabric of life of the influential crowd to further their plan to take control of a city. Perhaps if she was accepted and highly sought, only to be suddenly rejected over the discovery made by her one suitor, it would have made for a heartier lead.

All this to say that I stopped reading it once or twice with the notion of leaving it be. However, I’m glad I got through the slower portion of the book because once the story picked up, I couldn’t put it down. Nice work for a debut author. I hope the remaining books in the series, one of which promises to focus on the assassin, stay in this vein.

On Being Thankful

The ultimate question: Should you read this book? I initially downloaded the e-book when it was available for free. I later went on to purchase three hard copies, two for gifts and one to keep on hand to lend/give. That’s a “yes” from me.

The author presents a poignant example of how when you strive to see the best in someone that they start to see those things in themselves, specifically with a teenage daughter making choices her mother doesn’t condone. But when you speak life and hope instead of condemnation, watch the wonders.

As the author offers her own story of learning how impacting living a thankful life can be, she also provides insight into others’ experiences. The inspiring stories put things into perspective in a world where we can get upset when someone didn’t like a Facebook post. I’m reminded of how Paul opened many of his letters to the churches by expressing who he was thankful for and why.

Check out The Thankful Principle: A Journey into Thankful Living by Marcia Day Brown.

 

It’s All About the Dough: A Model for the Fellowship among Women

If you’re looking for a good read on Christian friendships, I’d recommend Amy Kemp’s debut book, It’s All About the Dough: A Model for the Fellowship among Women.

I have several highlights in this book. The author has an easy-to-read writing style that leads you through her analogy of cookie dough and Christian friendships.
With real-life examples and Biblical references, the reader is taken through the “ingredients” of good friendships in life and how those relationships can help see us through the process (adding the “chips,” enduring the “mixing” and coming through the “oven”) and come out as someone beautiful on the other side.

Outlander #1: I Just Couldn’t

I especially loved the author’s essay about how she became a writer–she just sat down and did it. I enjoyed her writing style. The first 200 pages were riveting and kept my attention (I skipped portions after that, keep reading to find out why). Then enter the wedding night scene and seemingly endless circumstances of gratuitous sex (I laughed at the dialogue I did read) and sexual violence. The heroine felt sick when near a man who looked like her first husband because he had punched her in the stomach (though he’s revealed to be pretty horrible later) but early on feels compelled to stay with her new husband who alternately protects her, beats her, and sacrifices himself for her. What? I would have loved to have explored more of the “witch” character’s background, especially given that there are several references to the folk tales about women being transported.