Posts Tagged ‘God’

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.

Image via Wikipedia

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 Healing

The rat pushed the paper away from him wearily, but the discreet Mole took the occasion to leave the room, and when he returned again sometime later, the Rat was absorbed and deaf to the world alternately scribbling and sucking the top of his pencil.  It is true that he sucked a good deal more than he scribbled; but it was a joy to know that the cure had at least begun.

Kenneth Grahame – The Wind in the Willows

Writing can heal the writer.  When we share our stories, we share our hurts and pains and let light into the dark places.

As a counselor I worked with women who had experienced grief.  Nothing was more powerful in healing than the sharing of their stories often in the form of letters to the lost loved one.  In the writing and sharing was healing for the writer.  In the telling of stories came understanding and connection and often the beginning of the healing process.

Journaling is a tool for understanding confusing emotions and clarifying hurtful thoughts. Naming the pain through words is hard but important in moving forward. Naming the joys helps us fully appreciate our blessings.

Writers have the unique occupation that brings constant revelation and introspection that can cause understanding and healing in the writer. My writing shows me what I think and helps me to understand my life.

When we write, we are changed.

Have you been healed or changed by your own writing?

Betsy Duffey

Writing With All Five Senses

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  Luke 2:7

What can a donkey teach us about writing? Recently at a Bible study I was challenged to experience Scripture with all five senses. 

When we read the stories with our senses, we begin to think: What did it smell like? What did it sound like? What did they feel? What did they see? What did they hear? The stories become alive and real as we enter the scene with our imaginations. God gave us the senses to help us experience the world. When we bring those five senses into our writing we make our writing come alive for the readers.

We’ve been working on a Christmas story, and what better way to  deepen our writing than to visit a farm.   With Priscilla, our donkey friend, we were able to experience the farmyard sensations first hand. When we write about Mary traveling to Bethlehem, and think that she may have ridden on a donkey, we want to know: What did she see when she looked down at the donkey’s ears? What did her hand feel resting on his neck? What did she hear? And of course there were smells! 

When we write about Jesus being placed in a manger we need to remember the sounds of animals and the smells of a stable. The Son of God came to earth and experienced the fullness of the senses.

Our visit gave us the details we needed and brought life into our writing as we worked on our Christmas story. God has blessed us with sights and smells, sounds and tastes and the ability to touch. Today may I write with all five senses!

 Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~ Anton Chekhov

Writing with Insight

Insight is defined as the faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth. As a writer I must constantly look beyond outward appearances to seek the truth, the inside story. Like the rings of a tree, the story is hidden.  I learned this lesson recently at a dinner party.

“I have a lot of stories,” my dinner companion said leaning forward over her plate. The party around us seemed to recede and her eyes grew more intense, “Yes, I have many, many stories.” She didn’t look like a woman with “stories.” There was no indication in her smart dress and pulled together look that she had led anything but a charmed life. But there were the stories.

She told of growing up in an eastern European country and being exiled with her mother and grandmother at the age of two. Between bites of broiled salmon and cranberry salad she told a story of her mother, a pianist, spending ten years in a labor camp. And then she told the story of her separation from her own daughter who was in the United States when martial law was declared. Three years later she saw her daughter again. Time stood still as we talked.

Hidden within a tree, each ring symbolizes a year of life. Years of drought, the ring is small. Years of plenty, the ring is wider. We hold inside of us our stories, the thin rings, the thick rings. The good times, the bad times are written in our brains and in our hearts.

“I have many. many more stories,” my new friend said as she left and I knew she had spoken for us all.

May I always look beyond appearances to see the inside story.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7

Writing With Gratitude

I thank my God every time I remember you.

Philippians 1:3

The table is set, a feast is prepared.  Empty seats wait for guests.  If we could give a feast of gratitude and fill the seats with those to whom we owe thanks,  who would we invite?

As a writer I need to remember that my ability, creativity, and the practice of my craft has been shaped and molded by others. As a reader I remember that I have been transformed by the presentation of truth in the efforts of writers who have come before me.  I am thankful for each of them.

I’m thankful for my mother who showed me perseverance in a writer’s life by faithfully writing through eleven years of rejections. For Corrie Ten Boom who taught me about forgiveness. For Catherine Marshall who taught me that prayer was real and possible. For C.S. Lewis who showed me that theology can be read and enjoyed.  For JRR Tolkien who showed me the power and truth in story.  For A.W. Tozer who wrote on his knees and Oswald Chambers who gave his life to follow his calling.  For Watty Piper who taught me that I could, and Margaret Wise Brown who made it safe to say “Goodnight”.

Many writers lived, worked and sacrificed before my time, gifted by the grace of God.  They have helped me to move forward.

Thank you. Thank you.

The table is set.  Empty seats are waiting. Who would you invite?

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Sir Isaac Newton


Writing With a Critique Group

Psalm 119:59

“I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.”

I’ve been in a critique group for 20 years.  It is one of my most valuable assets as a writer.  Through the years people have come and gone in our group and I’ve seen different reactions to criticism.  Some soak it in, jotting down notes and asking questions for clarity.  Others become defensive and discouraged.  I’ve reacted both ways.

How do you respond to criticism – not just in your writing, but also in your Christian life?  Perhaps the criticism is from a person, or maybe the Spirit of God is revealing areas of sin.  Does criticism send you into a downward spiral, thinking you are a “bad” person?

Not many of us will get better (in our writing or life) without some critique.  So how do we respond positively, avoiding the downward spiral?

First – Start with the gospel.  (For God so loved …John 3:16)  As Christians we tend to think the gospel only relates to our salvation.  But the gospel is so much more, and can be applied throughout your life.

When you receive criticism, remember: You are loved!  That’s the gospel.  Think of all the wonderful “R” words in the Bible: redeem, reconcile, restore, recover, resurrect, renew, return, regenerate.  God wants to continue to do those things in your life because He loves you.  Embrace opportunities to “consider your ways”.

And what about writing?  If you’re not in a critique group, I encourage you to join one.  Embrace opportunities to “consider” your manuscript and apply some of those “R” words, including the biggest “R” word of all for writers … rewrite.



Writing With Submission

Submission means to yield to the power or authority of another.

As a writer to submit means the moment of terror that I experience when I drop the envelope into the mail slot or hit send on my computer.  Submission means judgment of my work. I love the story of E.B.White begging the mailman to return his just sent manuscript.  I have felt the same desire to hold on one more day.

Can we write with the spirit of submission to God?  What difference would it make to start with submission, instead ending with submission.  If I can submit the work to God first then the fear of submitting to man disappears.

Catherine Marshall writes in Adventures in Prayer about this Godly submission during the writing of her first book, A Man Called Peter.

About midway in the manuscript, I received devastating criticism from one whose judgment I trusted.  He told me bluntly, “You haven’t even begun to get inside the man Peter Marshall,” And he was right, that was the sting of it.  The realization of my inadequacy as a writer was not only an intellectual one.  It was also emotional; there were plenty of tears.  But out of the crisis came a major realization.

 In my helplessness, there was no alternative but to put the project into God’s hands.  I prayed that A Man Called Peter be His book, and that the results be all His too. And they were.

The book was published and sold millions of copies all around the world.  My best writing comes when I give up control of the results and begin to see my books as God’s books.

May I write today with submission.

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