linkups · writing

Why I Write (a Blog Hop)

 One of the great things about the internet is how this network of satellites and landlines brings people together. I love finding other women who understand what it means to be a writer, a creative, and a busy mama with way too many projects half-finished on the shelf. But it’s a really busy place too, and with so many people making so much noise, I sometimes struggle with wondering what I have to bring to the table. So when Christie asked if she could include me in this blog hop for writers to share their whys and wheres, I was honored that she had found my little space of rambling an encouragement despite all my shortcomings.

Christie and I met in real life, actually, at the incredible Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. (A conference I wouldn’t have really known about had it not been for my real life friend Amy, who has been my cheerleader in all these endeavors for the past several months.) We were both taking a course in freelancing and discovered we had both been a part of the (in)courage writer’s group. She’s a beautiful person, inside and out, who uses her blog At the Well to reflect on the intersections of faith and motherhood while reminding us as women what it means to really sit at the well of living water with Jesus.

I love how she answered these questions and admits that the process isn’t always easy but when God has given us words, we are powerless to ignore them. Words are a legacy we are leaving to the next generation of the faithful. I’m stealing this reminder from her blog:

You show that you are a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  2 Cor. 3:3 (NIV)

So why do I pack lunches and pay babysitters and hide in corner booths of restaurants with free Wi-fi? Because when I don’t, I’m not being His letter. I’m not preaching the gospel I know.

So here are my thoughts on the questions of why I do this writer thing now.

What am I writing or working on now?
So many things….likely too many. But as much as I’d like to dedicate myself to one project whole-heartedly, that just doesn’t seem to be my nature. I’m getting better about prioritizing and turning down projects that I don’t need, but I’m still not as focused as I should be. The good news is, I believe God is helping me narrow my overflow of ideas into the places He wants me to be. So right now I’m working on three major writing projects but I’ve managed to narrow each one to suit my style and build off one another.

First, I’m in the editing/finishing stages of my first novel. It’s been a work in process for a looooonnnngggg time, but I can see the end and I can see how God has grown me and groomed me to tell this story. It’s not the same story I would have told five years ago when I first sketched out some weak pages, but as I’ve grown as a writer, it’s grown to be the story that it’s supposed to be. I’m hoping to pitch it officially this fall.

Secondly, I’m freelancing. I’ve had some success recently with Splickety Magazine, Thriving Family, and Georgia Magazine published one of my favorite stories back in May. For Splickety I’m writing my first short stories and guest blogging about writing. Thriving Family lets me use my parenting “expertise” and I’m working on some articles for Georgia Magazine and similar publications that let me talk about one of my favorite topis: living local. I’m thrilled to finally be seeing my words in tangible print and that others are giving credibility to my work. I know it’s not all about that, but honestly, bills have to be paid. Writer’s conferences aren’t free 🙂

Finally, I’m blogging. It’s not as regular as it once was, but that’s okay. Something I learned at Allume was that it’s far more important to have quality than quantity. So that’s what I’m focusing on now. Blogging is my outlet, it’s my publishing without worrying about fitting a genre or a category, and it’s my connection to those I love to share my life with.

How does my work differ from others of my genre?

This is a tough one for me. As a “mommy blogger” I don’t feel that different from others. But as I’m working to enhance my writer’s voice, I think I’m finding what does set me apart. Ann Voskamp posted recently about a quote that inspires her “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” I think that’s really where my voice is. I didn’t realize how much of the slow life I was missing until I quit my full-time outside the home job as a teacher to stay home and just be a wife and a mom. And I love that “just”. There’s value and admirality in this role and it’s taught me to be a better writer because I’ve become hyper aware of my children and how quickly this stage of life is passing us by. I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to revel and delight and enjoy. Then I want to tell you all about how there is grace and amazement and peace in growing gardens and waterfall hikes and popsicles on the porch everyday. I’m seeing this in my fiction writing too. For me, the stories I write aren’t about the big changes people make. They’re about all the little things we wake up to on a daily basis but are at risk of never appreciating. My stories are all about those moments when we realize what it means to really breathe in grace.

And wow, giving words to this makes me feel like I’m finding my focus all over again.

Why do I write what I do?

Sarah Mae talked about “making alters” at Allume. She was referencing how the Israelites would make actual alters when God had done something incredible they didn’t want to have the next generation forget. Then ever since she said that, I’ve heard that phrase over and over in various capacities. And it’s helped me give a name to why I blog–it’s how I don’t forget what these hardest and most glorious moments of motherhood were like. Fiction writing is like that too–there’s a handful of stories in this world and we tell them over and over again and again in new and exciting ways because these themes of overcoming failure and desperation and experiencing grief and love are tales we need to never forget. My freelance work is all about that notion of being astonished when I really pay attention. I am beyond blessed to live where I do and have the opportunity to share it with others. I want families to come away from their screens and their booths at McDonald’s and know how easy it is to go on a picnic and shop a farmer’s market. This world is not scary. It’s beautiful and God gave it to us for our delight and our sustenance. I hope when I share stories of how I camp or hike or cook with my kids, that others don’t feel put down. Rather, I want them to feel empowered. I hope other moms say to themselves, “Well, if she did that, then so can I.”

How does my writing process work?

Yeah….I don’t know. All I know is I look for pockets of time I can steal and then I write. I like to get up early, but I have to be up super early to beat my kids out of bed. So during the school year, I’m aiming for 5 a.m. That’s when I do my best writing on the novel because I can almost always get a solid uninterrupted hour. Then I just try to find time for all the rest. Naptime sometimes works. I almost never write at night (except for Five Minute Friday) because I’m usually completely drained by 9 p.m. I make myself prioritize. If there’s a deadline for a publication I want to submit to, I work on that first. If I haven’t blogged in a few days, and I have a story I want to tell, I get that out of the way and I’m always better for it. I like these short pieces for freelance and blogging because I can almost always finish it and feel a sense of accomplishment. Short stories are good for that feeling too. If I get a story idea, I jot it down and if the muse is really working, I move that to the top of the list. (I wrote this story in two hours. It was just flowing.) I’m trying to build a cache of stories I can submit. This probably sounds a little crazy,  but if I’m working on something I believe the Lord has given me, I can usually work at lightening speed. It’s a mom thing too. I know I only have a certain amount of time, so I have to guard it carefully. I’m doing this post today while my kids are at a Mother’s Morning Out program and I’m already 8 minutes over the allotted time I gave myself to finish this project!  But that’s okay because I’m really learning about myself right now and that’s been completely worthwhile.

I’m grateful and blessed to be included in a community of writers who understand all that crazy rambling. The women I’m passing this hop onto are recent discoveries, but I love how I can visit their blogs and feel their heart.

Amy at The Little Farm Diary is a new real life friend. We connected at the community theater and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to get to know her (and her sweet daughter) better over the next few weeks as we perform. You absolutely want to click over to her page and check out her sweet farmhouse style.

Andrea over at 7-7-at-7 is a friend from my (in)courage group and I love her honesty about being a “newbie” to publication. It’s hard to into this industry and you need a thick skin. Having friends who have experienced these ups and downs is a blessing. She’s a creative writer and a fabulous photographer.

Erin is who I’m sending #fmfpartysnailmail to this week! The coolest thing was when I got my list and her name was right above mine–just like her hometown. We’re getting together for lunch someday soon and I can’t wait. She has a beautiful blog and I love popping over and reading about her life as a newlywed…ah, those days from twelve years ago that I so didn’t appreciate.

So who are some of your favorite writers or bloggers? Why do you carve out time to be creative? I’d love to know and share.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

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