JRR Tolkien and Insecurities


Tolkien (Photo credit: proyectolkien)

“I am dreading the publication, for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at.” ~Tolkien on the pending publication of Lord of the Rings

“I am not made for perilous quests,”  cried Frodo. “I wish I had never seen the Ring!  Why did it have to come to me?  Why was I chosen?”

“Such questions cannot be answered, “said Gandalf.  “You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess; not for any power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.”

JRR Tolkien

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

Writing With Scraps

lots of quilting.

Plenty of good scraps are as important in making a book as in the making of a quilt.

I often think of my books as scrapbooks of my life, because I put in them all the neat things that I see and read and hear.  I sometimes wonder what people who don’t write do with all their good stuff.

Betsy Byars – The Moon and I

Growing up we made our own clothes.  There was nothing like choosing the fabric, pinning the pattern and cutting out the pieces.  Best of all were the scraps.  We had a big cardboard box, the scrap box,  filled with the leftovers, the cut-away parts.  From the scraps we made doll clothes, dog costumes or quilts. Gingham prints or velvet, cottons or silk. Nothing was wasted.

As a writer I take the pieces of my life and use those scraps to create my stories. In God’s economy nothing is wasted.  The hard times and good times, funny events and heartbreak, victories and defeats all can be used to make something beautiful.  This is true in the stories that I create as a writer and in my own personal story of life.  It’s all about how we use the scraps.

What’s in your scrap box?

I’m making something out of my scraps today, how about you?

Writing Sisters

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.

Romans 8:28

Reading Robert Louis Stevenson

A Child's Garden of Verses

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The best things in life are nearest:  Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you.  Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Give us today our daily bread.  Matthew 6:11

Writing With Responsibility

Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.

~Nathaniel Hawthorne

The alphabet.  A finite number of letters bringing infinite possibilities. A reader reminded me recently that everything that has been written in the English language has been composed of only twenty-six letters.  Amazing.

On New Year’s Day I visited Headwaters, a sculpture by Larry Kirkland on the Texas Tech campus.  I’ve reflected on this photograph over the past week – hands resting on books, holding the alphabet. It speaks to me of possibility, the endless choices we have in the combination of the letters. It reminds me that with every possibility comes responsibility.

These twenty-six letters have been placed into our hands and as writers and we are responsible to use them wisely.

Will I choose to build up or to tear down? Will I choose to bring hope or despair? Life or death?

In warmer seasons water flows from the letters of the sculpture out into the fountain.  Thoughts, ideas, and stories flow from our hands. What will we choose to create?  The possibilities are infinite. The choice is ours.  The responsibility is ours too.

May I choose well this year.

Betsy Duffey,  WritingSisters

. . . from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Luke 12:48

Reading Annie Dillard

English: ladder and sky.

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You climb a long ladder until you can see over the roof, or over the clouds.  You are writing a book. You watch your shod feet step on each round rung, one at a time; you do not hurry and do not rest.  Your feet feel the steep ladder’s balance; long muscles in your thighs check its sway.  You climb steadily, doing your job in the dark. 

When you reach the end, there is nothing more to climb.  The sun hits you. The bright wideness surprises you; you had forgotten there was an end.  You look back at the ladder’s two feet on the distant grass astonished.

Annie Dillard – The Writing Life

Happy Writing from Laurie and Betsy who got to type “The End” this week!

Writing With Perseverance

English: Track and field

Image via Wikipedia

If you’re running a 26-mile marathon, remember that every mile is run one step at a time. If you are writing a book, do it one page at a time. If you’re trying to master a new language, try it one word at a time. There are 365 days in the average year. Divide any project by 365 and you’ll find that no job is all that intimidating. 

Chuck Swindoll


On your mark…

Something about the first week of the year makes me feel like I’m starting a race, lined up ready for the gun to sound.  This morning I flipped over my calendar to 2012 and suddenly deadlines loom closer.   Email messages are flowing in reminding me of promises that I made. It’s time to begin working on the goals listed on the paper before me.

It can be overwhelming.

Get set…

Take a breath. Focus on one thing at a time. Life is lived one moment at a time.  Writing requires perseverance, one word, one paragraph at a time.  A slow persistence.  Persevere.


Okay.  Time to begin. The route is marked out ahead. Let’s run it.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

  Hebrews 12:1


Reading Eugene Peterson

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

“Being a writer and being a pastor are virtually the same thing for me:  an entrance into chaos, the mess of things, and then the slow mysterious work of making something out of it, something good, something blessed – poem, prayer, conversation, sermon, sighting of grace, a recognition of love, a shaping of a virtue.  The recovery by creation and re-creation the image of God.”

Eugene Peterson

Writing With Perspective

“After climbing a great hill, one finds there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk has not yet ended.”

—   Nelson Mandela

When I am hiking I am usually watching my feet. Along the way there are obstacles, roots and rocks, loose gravel and fallen branches. It is not until I stop to rest that I look out and realize how far I have climbed. Only when I stop can I appreciate the beauty all around me.

Ah, the view!

In writing I look at one word, one paragraph at a time. Often I focus on problems and obstacles in my work. If I stop and look at the larger picture I see the chapter, the book, the body of work. If I look farther, I see the vast, larger picture of my life, the richness of relationships, the strength of my faith and the history and traditions of my family.

In times of rest and renewal we put our work into perspective and enjoy the larger view of our lives.

Ah, the view!

Now, back to work.

Happy New Year, The Writing Sisters

Time Management: The Secret to Getting Things Done

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system developed by Francesco Cirillo who based his theory on the normal productive work span of a human being and Francesco’s kitchen timer — which was a large red tomato (pomodoro in Italian).

We have used the system this fall as we have collaborated on our books. It has been especially help over the holidays when time is so stretched.  It is so simple:

  • Set the timer for 25 minutes.
  • Work until the bell goes off.
  • Take a five minute break.

Some days I feel like I can’t complete an entire chapter or even a page.  When I think about just writing for the next twenty-five minutes, I can do that.

By breaking down our work into manageable chunks we conserve our energy and are more likely to keep working.

At the end of the day when we’re tired and ready to pack up and one of us will say, “Oh, let’s do one more Pomodoro on the third chapter.” We set the timer and keep going.

There are lots of helpful apps that you can use to manage your time with the Pomodoro Technique but the small tomato timers that we found at World Market appealed to our sense of fun.

That little pop of red beside my computer reminds me that I don’t have to make any decisions about the rest of my life right now.  I only need to decide how I will spend the next twenty-five minutes.

I can do that!

Happy Writing!

Be strong and do the work.

1 Chronicles 28:10

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