Writing is a part of who I am, I love it and it is something that I do for leisure, but it also goes much deeper than that, so deep that sometimes I hate it and don’t want to do it. But if I were to choose not to write, it would damage me deeply. So even in the painful times, the only choice that I have is to write. God wants me to write. It is something that he gave me and he wants me to use it.
I’m part of the one percent. The one percent of people who according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, show up as INFJ, which means that I am special and a rare gem. Well, that is what I would like to think, anyway. The truth is that I’ve always struggled with thinking of myself as special, despite how many people might tell me that. I suffer from a major deficit in self-esteem. I self-identify as a Jesus hippie and yes I totally did just make that up. All these labels are cool if you are a psychologist or a psychology major, but if you aren’t, I’m going to go into a better description for you (which means that I’m tired of the info I currently have as my profile info on the blog and my Facebook and so I am going to write a new bio).
Basically I tend to get passionate about things that I really believe in, spirituality and values are important to me. I tend to live in my head a lot as in I am constantly thinking, have been told that I think too deeply, and I cannot shut my brain down at night when I go to bed. I relate to God most in the intellectual, enjoy hanging out with people who stimulate me either intellectually or artistically. My star sign is Pisces which unsurprisingly to me has a water element, and let’s just say that “The Astrology Bible’s” description of my personality type is also pretty accurate. I get passionate about things and want to take action and do something, and am extremely frustrated when my fibromyalgia decides it doesn’t want to let me.
I only have a few close friends although there are so many people I like, for me I use up so much energy in the few relationships that there isn’t a lot left with which to offer to anyone else. So if I don’t claim that you are a friend of mine, please don’t be disappointed, because I probably do like you, my brain just can’t process how to maintain a whole heap of relationships at once. I tend to fall on the liberal side of the pendulum when it comes to Christianity and politics, although I attend a church that tends to fall on the conservative side of both. For many that doesn’t even make sense, but for me, learning to function as the Kingdom of God and the body of Christ requires unity, especially among people I disagree with, and besides all that, my church are my family and God lead me to them and blessed me with them and I’m not going to walk out on family just because we might think differently on some issues. My church is a major theme in my life simply because they are my family.
Sometimes I wonder if any of this stuff is important to my writing, but then I realize that it’s very important because it informs my writing. When my book releases, the style and the content will have come from deep inside of me, and this is part of who I am deep inside. It’s why it has been so important to me to figure it all out.
I used to be somewhat suspicious of people who got involved with home businesses of the type where you purchase a kit and then sell products for the company and they pay you a commission, and there have been some which I have gotten involved in which didn’t work out to well for me. It’s not the kind of thing that I want to make a career out of, but lately I have been looking into some more opportunities, some that would be unique to me and my personality. There are actually a few companies I am looking into taking the plunge with; a big part of it for me is having fun doing something that I enjoy with products that I would use and enjoy. With that in mind I have joined the Jamberry team, because Jamberry fascinates me and I think it is a great idea.
I’ve heard all about not having too many irons in the fire, because I’m also working on my book The Girl With the Grace Tattoo which I am going to keep working on until it is as amazing as I want it to be, but the thing is that there is nothing wrong with having your income coming in from several sources, in fact it could be a darn good idea. I’m not getting involved in lots of different things because I’m unable to commit to one certain thing, I’m trying to make money and enjoy doing it. I enjoy being able to sell products that I enjoy, especially if, in the case of my book, those products happen to be mine.
I’ve been chasing a traditional career for a long time now, and while I would like one of those the reality is that with three out of four of my children having special needs, and one of those three having major special needs, and being a single mom, that really isn’t a realistic goal. So here I am, almost thirty years old, continuing my education so that I can pursue a Ph.D., writing a book when many have told me not to bother because that doesn’t make a living, getting involved with selling products that I like and use, volunteering with skills I went to college for, and doing the mom thing. It’s a fast-paced life but I enjoy that aspect of it. I want to be a professional, but I want to pursue my own interests. So far God hasn’t provided me with a traditional career, maybe that’s not his plan and maybe it is one day, but right now it is not.
My book is my most important project; it’s the one I’m the most personally invested in and the one that means the most to me. Even if I didn’t do any of these other things, I would still keep working on the book. It’s the thing that truly makes me come alive, it’s the talent that God has given to me and I’m not going to go bury it like those dudes in Jesus’ parable. But God has also given me other talents and other interests and I guess it is time to see where they go.
Since the beginning of Lent, I have done some amazing reading and just finished a very powerful, redemptive book titled “Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer” by Micha Boyett. I read it in two days and had tears in my eyes when I was done. I even called a friend to rave about the book almost the minute I put it down. It’s one I’m going to read again almost immediately, at a much slower pace, savoring every moment. It was so ordinary and yet so sacred that I couldn’t even glean great quotes out of it to share on my Facebook status, which is unusual for me when I’m reading a great book.
I can tell that this Lenten season is going to be huge for me, I’ve already learned so much. I keep using the word redemptive, and I truly believe that if I continue to being open to learn, that this will be a redemptive season for me, which totally makes sense when I realize that after Lent comes Easter, when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. The resurrection is what makes all of this possible. The resurrection is why grace exists. The resurrection is a promise of life when there should be death. God has spent the last six months uprooting my entire life, leaving nothing untouched. A lot of dreams and plans for the future have died, in many ways I have died to an old way of life, and yet I have the promise of the resurrection. God will resurrect these things because using the bad and the ugly and the downright horrible things in life and turning them around for good is what God is all about. Which is why the word redemptive fits, and this is a redemptive book.
As I work on my own book, Micha Boyett’s book is something I am glad I read during the writing process. Seeing as I am writing a memoir about faith, I have been reading a lot of memoirs about faith, particularly new releases such as this one, because I’m trying to make my book relevant to the current market, because after all that is how to sell a book. The process of writing requires as much or more time spent reading as it does writing for me, because reading helps to inspire my own work. I am glad to have read such a redemptive memoir because I hope that mine will be powerful and redemptive also. This particular book was a very positive memoir even though it was about an ordinary woman like me, a mom trying to recognize her value in the world and her value to God. Perhaps that was even part of its value. I’m not expecting the next memoir on my list to be as positive in tone as this one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant, and I could be wrong about it. The next book on the list is also a brand new release that I pre-ordered called “Girl and the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future” by Elizabeth Esther. I guess I will see where that book takes me.
So, that fancy list I earnestly wrote at the beginning of Lent of just one thing I would do to observe Lent each day…I did it…for two days. After that, life happened and the list fell apart. I haven’t done more than two or three of the things on the list I wrote for the kids, either. Until now, that’s been my pattern; I’ve had big ideas and set out to change the world, and then let life get in the way. I’ve made excuses, used the fact that I have been abused, that yes I did something wrong but so did somebody else, or said that I was just unworthy of what I longed for. And it’s true, I have been abused, somebody else did do something wrong, and I have felt unworthy.
It’s time to get past all of that; the truth is that I haven’t done the things on my lists because I used the time for other things. And the truth is that I haven’t done a lot of things because I used the time for something else, or I made the wrong decision, or I was sulking and figured it was just too hard, or I lacked the confidence that I could do it. The Girl With the Grace Tattoo is a concept I have had for at least two years now, and I’ve worked on it slowly. I’ve been excited about writing my book, but I’ve also sabotaged myself with some terrible marketing, and a huge lack of confidence. I’ve complained that others get opportunities that I don’t, saying that they were just “more special” but I’m beginning to question that attitude.
It is true that some people have had far more advantages and opportunities than I have, but it’s also true that I haven’t taken full advantage of the ones I have been given. I’ve been burying the few talents that I’ve been given just like is described in the parable Jesus told because I compared myself to others and I was afraid. I need to start taking advantage of the opportunities I have been given, which is why I am using The Girl With the Grace Tattoo as my dissertation for my honors work, locking myself into finishing it well and in a timely manner.
While I haven’t been keeping up with the lists that I set out to do at the beginning of Lent, I’ve chosen to let those go because the truth is I think God has decided on a different focus for me for Lent. He wants to redeem the abuse I have suffered, redeem the wrong others have done to me; redeem the mess I have made of my own life. He wants to change the entire way that I think about life, he wants me to change what I do. And because of that, the theme of Easter is all through the Lenten season for me. It’s a death of old thoughts and attitudes and a resurrection to new life, one where I take responsibility for my life and the things I choose to do with it.
When it comes to writing, especially writing my book “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo” I am my own worst enemy. It doesn’t matter how many people tell me that I am good at writing, there is a lot of times that I just don’t believe them. I complain that others blog about the same themes that I blog about, or write books about the same topics I write about who are successful from the get go and it seems like these things were thrown into their lap. I get to wondering why I am unable to enjoy the same measure of success that these other people do, and then I get jealous, which then puts me into a cycle of thinking that is definitely not conducive to writing anything worthwhile.
Two weeks ago, I got tired of feeling this way and wanted to know what it was that made these people successful that I didn’t have, because whatever it was, I wanted it. So I started reading and asking around, asking people to be honest with me even if it hurt my feelings. I sought feedback from a young man my age who used to be in a similar position as I was except without the spouse and kids, he was broke, unemployed, went to school for the same thing I did, and today he is employed and has climbed the change of command where he is working. And here I am still unemployed, getting divorced, and feeling like I suck at life. So I asked him what he was doing that I wasn’t doing, and his answer was helpful.
He told me that I was very qualified and very skilled, but that without confidence in myself and my abilities, I would never get anywhere. He also told me that I tend to use my situation to make excuses for why I haven’t accomplished anything. That hurt a whole lot more because I do try to take responsibility for my actions, but I realized that he was right. So thanks to his honest responses, I have started really reading and studying on how to perform better. I need to realize that I have the power to change myself, and take the responsibility to do so. Instead of making excuses saying I responded badly to a situation because I was having a bad day, I need to admit that I messed up and that I will be more mindful of how I respond to things in the future regardless of how I am feeling at the time.
I’m almost thirty years old, and for the last twenty nine years, the ways I have tried to gain success have not been successful, and so it is time to try something new, to listen to people who have been successful, to research and study so that I can learn how to change my thoughts and my attitudes and to stop sabotaging myself. This will greatly enhance my writing as well as allow me to be more disciplined about the whole book writing process, so that in the end I will not only produce a book, but I will produce one worth reading, one that will touch hearts and change lives.
My six year old son believes that I am a “real author” already. For him, having a mom who “makes books” is really exciting. He told me the other day that he wants to be a real author and make books just like I do when he grows up. While it would be nice to be able to be a real author by how a six year old perceives me, the journey to being a real author is not easy. I haven’t even decided yet whether I am going to pursue traditional publishing or if I am going to self-publish. There are so many things to think about, including the fact that I’m not sure whether I would be considered a “real author” if I produced a self-published book.
Well the truth is that I would love to traditionally publish my book, I feel like it would give me the appropriate author cred, which is very important to me. But then I have to wonder why there are an amazingly large number of terrible books that are traditionally published, particularly in the Christian market. I am not sure that I want my book published by someone who thought that crappy Christian romance books were a good idea. Well, as far as dollars and marketing goes, they probably were a good idea. It is so frustrating that publishing is more about what makes money than what makes good books. I suppose this is how one tells a book lover apart from someone who is just in it for the money. I don’t have a problem with people doing things for money, after all, we all need some to get by, but sometimes it makes people make bad decisions and it makes publishers publish some lousy books (50 Shades of Grey” for example). I also don’t like the reticence to allow new authors to leave their mark because they have other established authors already. How is a new author supposed to get established if they can’t get their work picked up because they aren’t established?
These are some of the things that lead me to want to self-publish. But I have to admit that I want the recognition for my work, and that is easiest to be obtained by traditional publishing. I guess what it comes down to is that neither option is perfect and that there are definite benefits to both. Using the self-publishing option would mean more work for me to do, but it would also mean I get to maintain more creative control over my work. Traditional publishing, however, gives more access to getting my book into bookstores. Then again endorsement is amazing but I am not sure if I want my book to be published in the Christian market because a lot of what is published in the Christian market isn’t that great. And then I’m also not sure my book could be classified as a Christian book although it has Christian themes and is primarily for a Christian audience.
Writing is a creative gift that God has given me to be an expression of who I am, of who he made me to be. I’m so thankful for this gift; I can’t imagine having been given a different creative outlet because God created me to write. It’s an amazing way to communicate and to express myself, whether I am happy or sad. However with this gift comes the responsibility to tell the truth, even when that truth sucks and I’d rather not deal with it. I also process a lot of things by writing about them, and right now I am writing this to try to avoid writing something else.
I’ve been working on a deeply painful part of the book I am writing titled “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo” (and yes, I did totally steal that title idea from Steig Larsson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” not just because the guy is a genius and a master storyteller but because he also came up with a really cool title, and I am using my first tattoo, which is says “grace” on my wrist as the central theme of the book, the thing that everything comes back to). This section has been taking a lot out of me, physically and emotionally. I’ve had a really rough week processing everything and it will probably be only chapter I didn’t write almost entirely in one sitting. It’s taken almost a week to write the introductory section. Something tells me that it may become one of the most important chapters of the whole book.
Like I said, writing this blog post is actually one of my avoidance tactics for working on this chapter, and normally I am really happy about working on book chapters. As I reluctantly sat down to work on this chapter I decided that I really, really needed to take a shower. And once I had taken a shower there were some things I had to look at on Amazon, even though I wasn’t buying them, and then of course I have plenty of books to read.
I have been restless this week, which is always the result of needing to write something but struggling to do so, not because I can’t but because it’s too painful and as much as I pride myself on being real, to be honest there are just some things I don’t want to be real about. That is because being real is scary. People might talk, people might react, people might think differently of me. And yet I cannot be dishonest about my story and so I will persevere in writing it, and I will trust God that it will speak to the audience that it needs to speak to, even if that audience is me.
If you would like to contribute financially to “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo” book, you can send your contribution via PayPal to email@example.com and mark in the memo that it is to contribute to the book. It will be used only for that purpose.
Here is a sneak peak from the chapter talking about worship in “The Girl With the Grace Tattoo”. I hope you like it, and I hope it inspires you to share my work.
As I’ve been thinking about worship, both individual worship and communal, corporate worship, I’ve had several epiphanies (I just like that word).
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.
Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 The Message.
I used to think that these verses meant that I had to dress in socially awkward ways to please God, (you know, long skirts and dresses and those awful culottes only) that I had to have a neat and clean and perfect appearance, only have one set of piercings (ear lobe only, the rest is ungodly ya know), never get a tattoo, and people who had tattoos were supposed to be ashamed of them (because, you know, they can totally just get rid of them), and dress in approved clothing, being careful of styles and appearances. However, I recently began thinking of these verses in relation to individual, personal worship.
The Bible says elsewhere that God basically handcrafted us (well, that’s my paraphrase of Psalm 139:13-16 at any rate). Things that are handcrafted are unique; no two of them are the same. And that’s how it is with us. What this means is that I am the only me that will ever live. God handcrafted me, I’m authentically me and I’m an original. (I hear you all saying “praise God!” Ha). I am supposed to honor God with my body, and worship him with my body. The way I express this worship is going to be different to how other people express worship. I’m moving beyond the definition of worship as simply being participating in a praise and worship service at church on Sunday. It’s great that I participate and worship in those, but worship is so much more than that.
God is a creative God, and he has bestowed upon the human race many creative expressions with which to worship him. Some worship God by dancing, some by singing, some by playing instruments, some by writing songs, some by writing plays, some by writing novels, some by drawing, some by gardening, etc. God has also given us our own unique tastes and our own unique styles. He’s a creative God, and he’s given us a gift in giving us so many ways of expressing ourselves and making sense of him and ourselves through art and creativity.