O my God, thank You for fun, creative, new friends I meet on my writing/speaking journey. But OMG, yesterday, these Women of Worth went over the top!
O my God, thank You for a great time at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. Four days of glitter, glamour, and fun in Nashville nearly converted this classical music lover. Returning home, I considered dancing through our front door in new cowboy boots, singing, “Achy, Breaky Heart.” OMG, do You think Hubby would have upped my medication?
Some compare a writer’s life to a monk’s: starved, withdrawn from the speaking/smiling world and — like author Annie Dillard — incarcerated in a closet-like room decorated only with a picture she drew of a cow pasture.
I’ve experienced hermit weeks, although starvation doesn’t enter into the equation. Because I can’t draw cows or anything else, I allow myself a window.
I’ve also holed up in libraries, more exciting than most imagine. Take the Notre Dame library, where I did research for a biography of St. Augustine. Entering the skyscraper bearing its gigantic “Christ the Teacher” mural (known to football fans as “Touchdown Jesus”), I dared not speak to anyone, as even janitors appeared to be Fulbright Scholars.
I fought with a computer catalogue, then hunted for an elevator, which I finally rode to the philosophy and religion department on the 14th floor. Encountering a locked door, I rapped on it.
I banged until my fists hurt.
Ditto. I’d spent forty-five minutes for nothing?
A brave aide on the elevator ride down asked if he could help.
“The philosophy and religion department is locked,” I griped.
“The philosophy and religion department is on the 13th floor. Father Hesburgh lives on the 14th.”
Taking a break from libraries, I traveled to story settings. Non-writers assume a publisher arranges free, first-class flights to exotic spots with four-star hotels. Instead, halfway to Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, I stayed at my daughter’s. Having been hugged, mugged and slimed by three sweet grandkids, a dog and a cat, I slept on a sofa. Eat your heart out, Karen Kingsbury.
Afterward, I drove to the enormous cave on the Ohio River where, during the early 1800s, enterprising pirates ran a tavern. They lured flatboat pioneers with “Last chance for a hot meal and mug o’ grog before the Mississip, matey!”
“Guests,” however, ended up at the bottom of the Ohio.
Climbing alone around the cave’s mottled walls, I listened to dead voices while the I-don’t-know-nothin’ river flowed past.
Maybe the Notre Dame library wasn’t scary, after all.
Many of my stories, though, take place in pleasant places:
Currently, I’m staying close to home. But not for long, because we writers are a brave, daring breed.
Maybe I should set my next story in Hawaii.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: If you were (are) a writer, where would you place your story?
Friends and family urged me to celebrate the accomplishment. Those who know me best, however, stayed out of my way because I resembled a bear awakened from a long hibernation — groggy, growly, and ready to snap at anything that moves.
Now, having recovered as much as one can in two days, I join my husband in offering survival tips for those near and dear — including critique partners, writing friends, as well as normal people — in how to tame a post-deadline writing bear.
Let the bear sleep.
In fact, encourage the bear to snooze extra minutes in the morning, to retire early at night, to take naps. Nothing will increase the life expectancy of those in a writing bear’s path like a few additional zzz’s.
Conversely, nothing will guarantee the loss of at least one limb like the question, “Why are you so tired? You don’t work.”
Give the bear some honey.
In the face of bared fangs, this presents a challenge tougher than letting a writing bear sleep. But trust us, it works. When insecurity looms 3.5 seconds after the author hits “send,” pour on reassurance thick as honey: “You’re a good writer. You worked hard on this book.”
Even better: “We prayed about this book. God will use it.”
Accompanied by bear hugs, chocolate and other sweet things, this approach can’t go wrong.
Kick the bear in the butt.
Only use this tactic when the other two have been applied assiduously.
If, after generous amounts of sleep and support, the bear remains un-bear-able and spends valuable writing time playing infinite games of Candy Crush or watching Saved by the Bell reruns or the potholder channel, do what you’ve been aching to do for months. Give the writing bear a good boot in the bootie: “God has gifted you. Is this the way you propose to use His gifts?”
Then offer honey from the Rock in the form of questions such as “What did you learn from writing this book? What would you really like to write? And what has God been saying to you that should shape your next book?”
Any hints on how to handle the writing animal at your house?