Sunday, November 29, 2009

Feast or Famine?

“How’s it coming, Mom?”

“Not too bad actually. It’s going a lot faster than it was a couple weeks ago.”

“I know, you told me. Are you done yet?” I turned to look at him.“I mean how many chapters have you finished?”

I think he was trying to encourage me. :o) It got better as the conversation went on, but it made me think of this concept of feast or famine ~ and the way I look at writing, authors and books in general.

Do you like to watch dancing or figure skating? I do. The grace and beauty they exhibit is amazing. When done well, it looks effortless and pulls you in to this whole different world. I think the same goes for writing. A proficient author doesn’t draw attention to themselves or their methods ~ they disappear into the story.

If you listen to people talk about writing, it doesn’t take long before you start hearing contradictions and extreme statements. Sometimes it’s about one aspect of writing. I used one about editing: my love/hate relationship. Sometimes people will talk about the process of getting published and sometimes it’s about writing in general. Feelings about this particular craft are very strong. Most of the time things aren’t going "okay". Either words are flowing and ideas are gelling really well or you're stuck and can’t seem to make a certain scene/idea/character work.

I think the passion comes from a number of reasons. One is that so much of yourself gets poured into a novel. Then after you have worked long (sometimes several years) on a novel and managed to get it published, you have to watch as the public rates how well you did. How many jobs have that fringe benefit? It can be soul-wrenching. I skipped over the whole path before you get published. That's when you have to face the scrutiny and rejection from publishers. It's not hard to understand how it can wound deeply.

It’s also difficult to do (herding cats and then bathing them is easier). Just like those figure skaters make it look easy but few of us would be able to get on the ice and do anywhere close to what they do, good writing isn't simple either. I haven’t listened to a writer yet who talks about just spitting out book after book with no effort or stress. Most have points where the computer screen seems to mock them, the characters refuse to bend to their will, and the story just seems as if it will never be written. Many want to and some do quit ~ at least for a time. The problem is there is a passion deep inside a writer; a yearning to share the stories inside them. Denying that drive inside you is about as easy as refusing to breathe.

I still have a hard time looking at myself as an author. I’m a reader who writes. :o) Later in that conversation with my son he told me I looked like an author. His idea of an author fit a college student pretty well, but I wasn’t going to argue. At that moment I felt like an author. I’ve been writing (or editing) good amounts every day and new ideas for the book are coming to me pretty consistently. I hope it doesn’t stop.

I think the times of famine, the moments where I struggled, argued with myself and couldn’t seem to move forward… Those were all part of preparing me (and the manuscript) for this time of feast. This blog is named Butterfly Blessings. I love butterflies and consider them a symbol of the new life we have in Christ. I home school and we raised monarchs as part of a science project when the boys were younger. One of the butterflies didn’t come out of the chrysalis with the others. It partially opened, and wiggled, so we knew the butterfly was alive. After a day or two with no change, we carefully opened the chrysalis. It didn’t help. That butterfly’s wings never opened. They stayed shriveled up and it couldn’t fly away. Whether it injured itself when it fell, or something else, we messed up the natural process. It needed the work of opening the chrysalis itself in order to be successful.

My struggle with this manuscript has taught me many things about myself, my friends, writing, and God. I look at the book I’m writing now and know it’s not the same thing I started out with all those months ago. The times of famine were a part of that. I can’t honestly say I would look forward to them again, but if I need it to grow into a better writer, then I’ll be grateful for what they produce in me.

Oh, my feast has been in other areas too. I’ve been so busy with school, writing, home and a cold bug that I haven’t as much lately. This past week I made up for it. I read: Love Finds You in Holiday Florida by Sandra Bricker, In the Shadow of the Sun King & A Prisoner of Versailles by Golden Keyes Parson, and Abomination by Colleen Coble. I have about 8 pages left of Characters, Emotions & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress and I just started The Shack by WM. Paul Young. I look forward to sharing about at least some of those books with you.

May your feasts be long and enjoyable ~



  1. Hi Lee,
    Another good blog. Sounds like my journey with my WIP. I've already given up writing several times this past month. LOL Let's just keep on keeping on!
    Deborah M.

  2. Very beautiful and very inspiring post, Lee. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us. I wish you continued luck in your writing and God's blessings!

  3. Great post. I enjoyed the figure skating analogy.