Tag Archives: patience

Writing Diary: Thwarted Again

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I seem to be moving like a tortoise these days.

Well, things were going well last week. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I began to move — slowly — through Chapter 14. But then came Friday and my morning appointment with the eye doctor to make sure the shingles I developed in my eye a couple of years ago was still quiescent.

The appointment went normally, the news was good, but when I was driving home — slowly, via back streets — I noticed that everything seemed much brighter and blurrier than in the past. I chalked it up to the fact that it was a clear, bright day, whereas the last time I’d done it, the day had been overcast and I had driven home later in the afternoon.

But even when I got home, everything was so bright I had to close most of the blinds. And I could hardly even look at the computer screen, much less work on it.  Focusing on the small printed words of my hard-copy drafts was difficult as well, and I began to think my sight had degenerated much more than I feared (even though tests at the eye doctor’s had said otherwise). I could not work on the book at all:  couldn’t look at the computer screen, couldn’t stand to read the print on typed pages, was getting a headache just trying… so I worked on cards. And even that was a strain.

Finally, increasingly frustrated with my inability to see clearly I went into the bathroom to check on my pupil, thinking it was only the left eye that had been dilated, which was the usual procedure. Instead I finally discovered the problem: the tech had dilated both my eyes, by mistake, I think, since the doctor never looked in my right eye, only the left. In any case, there they were, these huge black pupils staring back at me. Even though it had been hours since the appointment, they still looked huge — which brings up another drawback to seeing the eye doctor in the morning rather than the afternoon: I have blue eyes and from what I’ve read,  dilation takes longer to recede in blue eyes than it does in brown eyes.  Indeed, it wasn’t until well into the evening before they were back to normal… and so, once again my intentions to keep consistent in writing this book were thwarted.

The next day, Saturday, I could see again, but now I had all the errands I might have done Friday but couldn’t, to attend to: dog food to pick up, dog bran to buy, a car gas tank on empty to fill up… administrative duties, etc. So no work then, either.

Today was our local assembly’s monthly communion and pot luck, longer than usual because we had a visit from some evangelist friends who minister in Pakistan. It was great to see and visit with them… but when I got home I was wiped out and so… yet another day where I didn’t get to the book…

Still I did manage to this post written!  So I shall feel good about that, at least…  I set all this down, as example of all the weird things that keep happening to interrupt the flow, consume time I’d hoped to devote to writing, and even get me off kilter. I keep asking myself, “Was it always like this? How did I get those other books written, anyway?”

Nevertheless, I do know that everything comes to me through my Lord’s permission, and for my blessing, even if it doesn’t seem like much of a blessing. He’s definitely teaching me patience. Or maybe I should say He’s giving me lots of lessons designed to develop it. I am just a very slow learner…

Writing a Novel: Why It’s So Hard

The following is something I wrote years ago, and keep in a notebook I’ve labeled “Inspiration and Encouragement”. I thought I’d already posted it, but can find it nowhere in either of my blogs (WordPress and Blogger).

I found it again today, when I went searching for some “inspiration and encouragement” and it so describes what I’ve been going through the last couple of days (yes, I’ve actually gotten into the office and worked for three days running now!) I thought I’d post it here.

Writing a Novel: Why is it so Hard?

Because it’s work. And work is hard. Work is not walking up to the tree and pulling off the fruit whenever you happen to want some. Work is breaking the soil, which does not easily yield. It is striking over and over with the hoe; it is crumbling it to a fine consistency, preparing it for the seed; it is sowing the seeds, a few at a time, walking down each row, one after the other. It is watering and waiting and weeding. And waiting. And weeding. And thinning and watering and waiting and pruning and watering and waiting and weeding and watering and finally harvesting.

Work involves doing the same thing over and over and over until you get the result you want. It often involves discomfort – muscles get sore and tired from use, skin forms blisters, callouses, emotions deflate from an initially excited anticipation and determination to frustration and even despair.

You can do more work, the more you practice it  – the stronger you are or become, the more work you can do. Even so, eventually you will reach a point where you’ve hit your limit and have to rest.

So with writing. Banging on that hard soil with the hoe is not easy. It must be done again and again. It takes effort, time. You must keep doing it, though you are uncomfortable and tired, though you are not seeing very much progress (if any). You must wait, and you must be patient. Just as the seed germinates below the ground without your awareness, so do many ideas and solutions germinate in your soul and mind, below the ground, without your awareness.

It’s hard because it’s work. We are to expect it to be hard. Embrace that, be organized, professional. Don’t complain, don’t give up, but throw yourself into the work with maximum effort and enthusiasm. The more you pound on the hard ground, the sooner it will yield, the sooner it will be soft and fertile and ready for the seed.

Remember, too, that much of the process does not involve our own effort. We cannot make the seed germinate faster, or the plant grow faster. We must wait, even as we work. We must rely upon God to provide the germination and growth, to protect, to provide the nutrients in the soil so that the sprout will become a seedling and the seedling a plant, bearing fruit in its time…

Love is Patient

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Last week while writing in my journal, it occurred to me — what with all hearts and red ink I was using to decorate its pages and with Valentine’s Day imminent —  that it might be a good time to focus on “love” for a few days.

I started out asking, “What is love, really?” And was nudged to start with the traditional “love passage” in 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.”  1 Corinthians 13:4

Only one verse and already five characteristics.

My first thought about them was that since God is love, all these characteristics  describe Him. He is patient, kind, never jealous (what a concept!), and is not arrogant. On the bragging… well, maybe… but then He’s God, so it’s not really bragging, just a statement of fact.

Moreover, “we love because He first loved us.” 1 Jn 4:19

The first and most obvious interpretation of “first loved us” is that He set aside the privileges and independent use of His deity to take on the form of a man and live among us entirely without sin, ultimately going to the cross as a substitute for us all, the perfect sacrificial lamb on our behalf so that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jn 3:16b

But how about looking at it another way? How about considering the fact that these qualities of love are being directed toward us byGod Himself?

He is patient toward us who have believed in Him. He knows my frame, knows how very weak I am, knows my circumstances in every detail. He knows how stupid I am, how headstrong, how very often I blow it. And yet… every day, He’s still here, still with me, still loving me, still providing for me, blessing me, gracing me out, ever day. The same is true for you, as well, if you have believed in His son.

I have always approached this love chapter in terms of me finding out how to love other people, and trying to be patient, kind, etc. with them as a way of doing that.  But that makes it mostly about me, trying to be loving.

What if, instead, we start with God again? We love Him, because He first loved us, yes, but we have to know that He loved us. Key to loving Him then, is knowing Him.

Knowing He is always right, and never lies, that He is all powerful and loves me beyond my ability to comprehend, that He has a perfect plan for me, that He always does what is best and gave His son for me when I was still His enemy, and that my times, my days, are in His hands, and knowing all that… well, how can I not love Him?

Knowing that He has promised never to forsake me, to work all things in my life for good, that nothing in it is an accident, nor out of His control, nor even out of His mind. Out of His mind in that He wasn’t paying attention or didn’t realize that  would happen; no, He not only realized it would happen, but also everything else that could have happened and chose that particular event as the best possible thing to happen at that time in my life). And provided for that happening in every regard as would be consistent with His overall plan

So knowing all that, how can I be impatient with things that happen in my life? His timing in all things is perfect. That traffic light that delays me might be there to keep me out of an accident at the next intersection. Or it might just be training me to relax over the small things in life, because He’s got the big ones covered so why do I have to hurry and rush about all the time?

Jesus was never in a hurry.  Why should I be?

Knowing that He loves all men and gave His son to die for them, and that He especially loves His children, those who have believed in Christ, those who have been declared perfectly righteous in His sight forever at the moment of salvation… that knowledge changes one’s perspective, too. He knows exactly what’s going on in their lives, just as he does in mine — all their failings and faults and faux pas… just as he knows mine. And he’s allowed theirs just as He allows mine. Yes, it grieves Him when they go off on their own, “following a plan but not His.” It grieves Him when I do the same.

And for me to say of another, “Oh that’s AWFUL! How could they do such a thing?!” is certainly NOT love. We think the part of us that says/thinks those things is good. It’s not. In fact, it’s the part of us that Jesus went to the cross for.

He’s patient with them and with me. How can I not also be? Patient with God as He opens and closes doors in my life, even when He holds them closed for what I consider to be a long time. Patient with others when they do not act as I think they ought. Patient with loved ones, friends, neighbors, patient with Quigley, with people in traffic… I am not the queen in charge of all, to whom everyone must defer, after all.

I think one way of looking at patience is of being at rest. Not having to make snap judgments or give quick, off the cuff responses, but taking a breath and giving a slow, considered answer (or maybe none at all), willing to wait in whatever circumstance without agitation or expectation, knowing God is there and has His hand on it all.

It’s interesting how the five qualities mentioned above go together, interlock with one another. In loving God because of who He is, you slow down, you stop demanding, enter His rest and are “patient.” When you are patient with people or self, you are also kinder to both. When you are patient with God’s timing in providing blessing, knowing that timing is the best, you are less inclined to jealousy. When you are patient with people, knowing none of us is perfect, all of us are fallen and struggling because of it, and the only good thing in any of us is courtesy of the grace of God, then you are not so likely to brag, or be arrogant…

And the more you have your eyes on God, the more, you will manifest His love because… how can you not?  We love Him because He first loved us, but we also love Him because we have come to know Him through His word.

Incubation

“Mulling over the problem in a sort of chaos of ideas and knowledge, letting go of certainties… entertaining widely differing or incongruous ideas so they can coexist long enough conceptually in order to be considered as a new composition.”

That’s “incubation.”

So when I am having a day like I described in the nonstops of yesterday’s post (Walking in Fog) or looking at the note cards spread across my desk and each one is an item that has little to do with any of the others, or there are clumps that relate, but no sequence that is emerging… they just are all there, like jigsaw puzzle pieces… I am in the process of entertaining differing or incongruous ideas together.

Incongruous: lacking congruity; not harmonious;  INCOMPATIBLE (not compatible: as a) incapable of association or harmonious coexistence; b) not conforming. DISAGREEING “conduct incongruous with principle”,  c) inconsistent within itself: “an incongruous story” d)  lacking propriety : UNSUITABLE “incongruous manners”

So if you have two ideas, say, “Abramm plans his way” and “He thinks about Blackwell…” those don’t, on the surface, have anything to do with each other. Nor does, “Trinley and Rolland argue about Abramm’s reign.” They are all three incongruous and when I think about it, I feel this frustration. Because I can form no connections.

Not that I’ve consciously tried to form connections, just that I survey the stuff and there aren’t any. So I’ve lately been just collecting it all into a chapter. Then I read the chapter and it jumps all over the place. Because there is no sequence, no organization. It’s chaotic, it’s a collection of different things, ideas, actions, feelings… sometimes they contradict each other. They can’t both happen, but I don’t know which one I want to happen. And it is very uncomfortable.

You’d think I’d have learned by now to get comfortable with it, but I haven’t. Reading files like this one, written as it was back when I was starting Return of the Guardian King is helpful.

As is the realization that this very thing that I find so frustrating is probably a key ingredient to making my books work. If I just laid down a simple sequence, chose a few things and went with them, I wouldn’t have so much to wrestle with. Writing would go more quickly. Unfortunately I would be very bored… which means my readers would also be bored.

And consciously trying to link my incongruous ideas not only won’t given me the final answer, but may lead me off on 100 page rabbit trails. I just have to resign myself to waiting until it falls together on its own, in God’s timing, not mine. Thus this stage will always be here, this mulling stage where I have the incongruous and widely differing elements coming together to form something new. I have no idea what that is, so how can I possibly guide it? I can only play with it.

And pray for guidance. And wait.