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Posts Tagged ‘Friendship’

Deep breath in. Smell the coffee. Relax those tense muscles. Transform from the businesswoman you’ve been all day to an author. Preferably in the next fifteen seconds. Right. (Sarcasm intended.)

Perhaps the greatest struggle of authoring is that simple switch: from the ordinary and not so ordinary of real life to the fabulous fiction of your other self. And it isn’t always so easy to open up the laptop, turn on the music, and hit the writing-ground running. This blog very often serves as the transition, this corner at Starbucks as the muse I never had, and the well-worn iTunes albums as the horn that pulled the Pevensies into Narnia.

Tomorrow marks the start of Camp NaNoWriMo. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t long to jump into their luscious descriptions of mountains and lakes. I like the camps in April and July far more than their better-known father: National Novel Writing Month. At camp, there is grace and friendship and inspiration aplenty. 50,000 words, phsaw. 10,000 becomes the very doable minimum. And writers are thrown into cabins to bond across the country. Not to mention the writing prompts already filling up my Facebook wall. The very idea of the camp sends my writing self scrambling to pack a virtual bag and head for the hallowed hills of authordom. The camp’s tagline:

“An idyllic writers retreat, smack-dab in the middle of your crazy life.”

Oh, me and my crazy life long to join the retreat! But free-writing just isn’t in the time frame. Editing The Lure of Lemons consumes me. Day and night, my mind is pulled deeper and deeper into the world and the stories. For now, that is exactly where my focus needs to be.

Yet real life still tugs at me–making me feel like I’m stumbling around my day on sleeping pills. The morning was spent getting some kind of test (there have been so many lately, I’ve quite honestly lost track of what one I had today) at the hospital, followed by breakfast with my mom, accounting and meetings, and more business. But now I’m here. At my beloved Starbucks, warmed by sales in the state of Washington, by bright and encouraging family, and a cherished letter from an even more cherished friend reflecting on the awesomeness of our friendship. Life may be trying to use me like the rope in tug-of-war, but I’m loving the journey.

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For the last three days I have wrestled with a question long plaguing me: What kind of person am I?

It was a few days ago–after I booked my cruise from June 30-July 4 for a sister-get-a-way–that I learned I needed to be in Florida for a July 5th wedding. The possibilities of the trip were limitless, while the constraints were just as limiting. I could not leave until after I got back from my cruise; I have a performance at a fundraising picnic scheduled not long after the wedding; oh, and details on the wedding are just about as scant as they can be. Then add my 21-year-old age making it hard to get a rental car, my need to use my energy reserves wisely as I battle Lyme’s Disease, and my artist-life budget to the mix. I found myself in a daze as I tried to pull together a trip to a wedding I simply had to attend. There are times in our lives when even the impossible must be accomplished for the sake of a friend. And so it was… As an organizer and a planner it is deeply instilled in me that I need to know how things will work out before I do them. For a wedding like this, that’s impossible to achieve. So in all my worldliness I panicked.

It took three days of research, budgeting, calling, talking, praying, and planning; but I finally worked out the details. The trip is far from the exciting vacation in Florida as I had originally thought it would be, but it does meet all my obligations at a price that shouldn’t quite deplete my savings. What I learned: If you can’t do it cheaply, at least do it well.

All the penny-pinching in the world could not have made this trip practical. But, in the end, what kind of person am I? One who hoards her resources like miser? One who retreats because the details are unpolished? Or one who extends myself and the gifts God has granted me for ministry, friendship, and love? I think deep inside me I knew that I was not really freaking out about planning a trip to Florida. While I could not express it, I understood that I was wrestling with a question that would define who I become. And I’m so glad that the struggle is over and the answer is determined. This is how I choose to live: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” ~Galatians 5:22-23. I choose to joyfully and peacefully go to Florida to show love, faithfulness, and kindness to a good friend. And with increasing self-control, goodness, and gentleness, I will strive to put panic behind me as I find more trust in following God.

Crisis averted.

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Forgive the long post, but friendship is so important to a story that I am going to spend more time on it:

Friendship is a dull word in this day and age. I have 199 ‘friends’ on facebook. I have ‘friends’ at youth group, who I never talk to. I have ‘friends’ at school. I have ‘old friends’, whom I never see. Even with many of the people I consider my true friends, I do not have the kind of friendship that I will be talking about in this post. In sum, ‘friendship’ has become a distorted word, which really means acquaintance. Yet still, we all know that friends are important–especially the ‘best friend’, the person you confide in, laugh with, cry with, joke with, who will always have your back and would give their life for yours. Such a friend is hard to find. Sometimes we do not even know we have such a friend until our hardest moment. Then we discover that this someone will do anything for us and we realize that this person has been there for us all along.

Some authors do not realize just how important friends are. We get caught up in developing our main character and forget that the supporting cast is often more loved than the hero (explanation for that in another post). No one wants to read about just one person who battles with no hope and no one to stand beside him. And most readers realize that if they were in a book they would be the sidekick, not the hero. Everyone has moments when they are heros, but for the most part, people are the sidekick and they want to read about characters like themselves.

So you may be wondering what the definition of a true friend is. To write about friends do you simply need to put two characters in the same space and have them interact? No! Two good people may hate each and not work together. So what is friendship? There is no better example of (in my mind) than that of David and Jonathan in the Bible.

Jonathan’s father was King  Saul of Israel and he was next in line for the throne. David was just a Shepard boy called by God to be the new king of Israel. But even though David represented a threat to Jonathan, they were closer than brothers. They did not just enjoy spending time together, they sacrificed for each other and were there for each other in hard and easy moments. When King Saul tried to kill David, Jonathan sacrificed his future for his friend and helped him escape, enraging his father and giving up his own kingdom.

Was Jonathan a friend to David because they enjoyed each other’s company? Was Jonathan a friend to David because they were in the same space? Or was Jonathan a friend to David because he sacrificed for him and because he was faithful in David’s hardest moments?

A true friend is willing to do anything for you, even if you do not get along. [My sister’s husband and I are constantly bickering (in a fun way), but if I have the slightest trouble, he is there for me.] A true friend is willing to ‘take up a sword and fight’ or simply say a kind word on a hard night. A hero cannot be a hero without a friend to support him along the way. The friend says the word that keeps him going.  The friend helps set up the tent, find the food and tend the wounds. The friend takes the blow that would have killed the hero. The friend adds honor, courage, sacrifice and loyalty to the story. So even though it is the hero who gets the glory, the friend plays an equally important role. As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Who were my true friends that fought beside me as I wrote, edited and published a book? My sister, Kate, and my mom, Judy, were the biggest help. I owe a lot to my whole family and friends, but Kate and Mom had the biggest impact. They encouraged me, supported me, worked beside me and on occasion gave me tough love. They have done the dirty labor and dealt with a sometimes crazy author. And they get almost no glory. My name is on the book, my name is behind the company, but without them, the book would not have happened.

Who are your true friends? It took me a long time to figure out that mine were living in the same house with me. Your life will be filled with ups and downs, struggles and victories, times when you are the hero and times when you are the sidekick. Do not forget to thank your supporting cast (or to be the supporting cast for someone else)!

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